The Best Packaged Frozen Meals For Dieters

May 1, 2012   58 Comments

Snack Girl has been trying frozen meals for a couple of months to see if she can find a meal that is healthy, delicious, and relatively low in calories.

Best Diet Frozen Meals

The three major brands that you can find nationwide are: Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, and Smart Ones.

Smart Ones are made by Weight Watchers and have the PointsPlus values prominently displayed on the front of the box. A sweet woman I met in the supermarket told me that THESE are the best.

She had about 10 frozen meals in her basket and I said, "Hey, you must really like those." She replied, "I have a coupon and I bring these for lunch."

Which about sums it up - doesn't it? These are cheap and they make a super fast lunch which will stop you from buying fast food or other more expensive lunch items. I don't think anyone wakes up and says, "I can't wait to eat my Lean Cuisine!".

Frozen meals are a good news/bad news situation. Since I am feeling grumpy today, I will start with the bad news. Frozen meals have:

  • A bunch of unrecognizable ingredients.
  • Pasta and rice as cheap fillers (and usually not the whole grain kind).
  • Too much sodium - 30% of your daily value is the average.
  • Lots of packaging that ends up in the trash.

Okay, phew, glad I got that off of my chest. I think my real problem is that frozen meals lack a certain joy. They kind of remind me of what an astronaut would eat because she doesn't have a vegetable garden on the space station.

Now for the good stuff. Frozen meals are:

  • Inexpensive and convenient.
  • A great way to learn portion control.
  • Sometimes delicious.

That is right - I found a Smart Ones "Santa Fe Style Rice & Beans" for $2.50 that was pretty tasty. Here are the nutrition facts:

320 calories, 7 g fat, 54 g carbohydrates, 5 g sugar, 10 g protein, 5 g fiber, 690 mg sodium, 8 PointsPlus

With 30% of your daily value of vitamin A, zucchini, and corn - this meal was my favorite one of the lot. I think the sweet lady in the supermarket had it right that these taste the best of all three.

My suggestion is to eat these in moderation and fit them in when things get crazy. Obviously, if you are having a processed breakfast, lunch, and dinner there is a problem - but adding a few of the good ones of these in when you are out of money and time seems reasonable to me.

Look for the ones that have the most vegetables and the least meat and make sure that you actually are going to enjoy eating it. Life is too short to eat lousy food because you are stressed out.

I am going to work on some "make ahead" recipes that can be frozen to support people who need the convenience of frozen meals but want to control the food that goes into them.

Do you have any favorite frozen meals or DIY frozen meals ideas? Please share.

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First 20 Comments: ( See all 58 )

Would love to hear about frozen breakfast dishes! I have work early in the morning & sometimes no time to prepare breakfast each day! I recently read a blog article recipe for making 30+ breakfast burritos that she made for her whole family & freezing them. Looked yummy! Also, an egg dish with lots of vegetables would be nice. My uncle would make one, but im not sure of the pan he used...

I like the new steam meals from Kashi - most are under 300 calories and use whole grain pasta etc. They are a little pricey, but they are the best I have found!

I like the Healthy Choice options, especially the new Top Chef Grilled Mediterranean Vegetables & Rice.…

I "fill it out" with some extra frozen veggies that I cook at the beginning of the week & keep in a container in the fridge. I eat this at least once a week.

Thanks for the info. I never know which one to pick up. I often pick up Amy's. I also really like the Weight Watchers Sante Fe one! It's very hearty.

Personally, I love Amy's Kitchen! Organic frozen meals, vegan (even though I'm not vegan), and delicious! A bit pricey though.

Thanks for the scoop! I am not a frozen meal type of person. Thats why I try to make meals in batches so I always have leftovers.

Hands down, the best frozen meal I have tried is Kashi Mayan Harvest Bake. It has beans, plantains, whole grains, and a chili sauce, I am craving one just by speaking about it! Pricey, yes, but worth it for an occasional quick lunch when you need it and it keeps you out of the drive through or vending machine.

I am eating fewer and fewer frozen meals. I do, however. still enjoy them on occasion. I NEVER buy SmartOnes. I think they are the worst of the lot. The Healthy Choice are usually good but the Lean Cuisine are my favorite. I avoid the pasta selections that are prepared with a rred sauce, it always tastes bland and I don't like pasta anyway. Avoid selections with seafood as it is always overcooked.

For a quick breakfast I cook a large batch of egg substitutes with desired seasoning and store it in the fridge. I also cook an assortment of roasted veggies and keep them in the fridge as well. Just heat your portion of egg and veggies in the microwave. Wrap in a whole grain (100 calorie) tortilla and zap for 20 seconds. Add some low fat cheese if you like. I can usually keep these under 300 calories.Try it!

Whenever i buy frozen meals, i like to pick up a small bag of frozen veggies like broccoli or whatever complements the meal. The sauce inside the meal is usually more than needed and will easily coat more veggies, so i cook both the meal and the veggies in the microwave at the same time (if it works okay) and toss them together to bulk up the meal without much more calories. I love lots of veggies and those meals are usually very skimpy on veggie portions. It adds lots of flavor and vitamins and helps it not taste so salty, too. Canned veggies work well, also. sometimes. I'm a big fan of diy frozen meals and such, so I'm looking forward to your ideas in that arena! A few good freezer cooking sites that i've stumbled across are and and there are so many more - freezer cooking is a very cool concept all on it's own but, if i can, i love to hear personal experiences on recipes before i try them out.

I travel for business and eating out does not appeal to me. I often purchase Amy's Lite options and supplement with fresh vegetables and a green salad. I am a vegetarian and must adhere to a low sodium diet so most frozen products are too high in sodium.

Amy's vegetarian products are yummo! They now have a low sodium and/or low fat product line as well. Nothing but whole, organic ingredients.

I love Amy's -- I think the trick with frozen meals, because they are so convenient, is to pick one that's high in protein, and low in sodium.

I liked the idea from Debbie about making a large batch of egg substitutes and storing in refrig.. I also make a corn and black bean salsa which is only 2pt+ for a half of cup. I sometimes eat it as a side veggie or just as a snack with a few baked chips.


I LOVE Santa Fe Rice & Beans! Lean Cuisine's version is also really good. I usually buy Smart Ones, because they always have coupons and do go on sale fairly often. Another favorite of mine is Swedish Meatballs. Yum. I like to keep a few in the freezer at work for days when I just don't want my regular sandwich.

I love the Smart Ones cheesy scramble with hash browns. I like to cut up the potatoes and mix it all together. I either have fruit with it or eat the fruit as a mid morning snack. I have been eating these for about a year and a half as part of my weight watcher program. I'm down 65 pounds and am at my goal weight. I know they have alot of sodium, but I dont use much salt on anything else. Plus they have 15 grams of protein. My husband loves the Jimmy Dean Delightful bowls. He likes meat!

Trader Joe's has some great frozen meals that are made of actual ingredients (though higher sodium than probably one should ingest regularly). I like the Reduced Guilt Mac and Cheese (though I HATE the name) bulked up with some broccoli slaw. I also like Lean Cuisine's new line with Gardein in it - meatless but meaty-tasting to this vegetarian. I also like Amy's brand meals, and MorningStar Farms sometimes has good ones available too. I know frozen meals aren't ideal for me, but for days when I'm running around, I do like to have them on hand to toss in the microwave.

It's not frozen, but I make a cold oatmeal the night before and it is ready-to-eat with absolutely no prep in the morning. 1/2 c. old fashioned oats, 3/4 - 1 c. milk, handful of frozen berries, dash of vanilla. Stir it in a bowl, cover and refrigerate. I think it's called Chilled Swiss Oatmeal. If it turns out to be a cold day, I just heat it up. Yum!

Kashi Black Bean Mango, Spicy Black Bean Enchilada & Mayan Harvest Bake.

love the smart one santa fe style beans and rice, i like to put it on a bed of lettuce and a few crunched up totillia chips on top! yummy!

I used frozen meals from BistroMD last year. The meals are packed in a styrofoam cooler and delivered once a week. The quality of the meals far surpassed anything I could find in a store. They are somewhat pricey, but the weekly plans can be tailored to one's needs. I don't recommend all of their packaged snacks, but the meals were chef-prepared, fresh and did not contain preservatives. For quality and convenience, I really enjoyed them. And yes...I did lose weight.

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