The Best Packaged Frozen Meals For Dieters

May 1, 2012   57 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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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...

on May 1, 2012

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!

on May 1, 2012

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.

on May 1, 2012

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.

on May 1, 2012

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

on May 1, 2012

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.

on May 1, 2012

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.

on May 1, 2012

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!

on May 1, 2012

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.

on May 1, 2012

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.

on May 1, 2012

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.

on May 1, 2012

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.

on May 1, 2012

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.


on May 1, 2012

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.

on May 1, 2012

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!

on May 1, 2012

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.

on May 1, 2012

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!

on May 1, 2012

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

on May 1, 2012

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!

on May 1, 2012

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.

on May 1, 2012

We don't buy Lean Cuisine for one simple reason... the portions are TINY and there's hardly any protein in some of them (not to mention fiber). Most don't even have any vegetables.

We were buying Healthy Choice up until they partnered with Top Chef. The partnership started and the quality of the food plummeted (you would think it would get better).

We haven't tried Smart Ones recently. We've been looking at other frozen meals, like Marie Callender's, Stouffer's, and Hungry Man... and we were surprised to find that many of them, even the Hungry Man, were actually fairly reasonable as far as calories go. I have one in my freezer that's three enchiladas, rice, beans, and coconut pudding for around 600 calories. Not a bad mark for a full meal with dessert (though I'm sure the sodium is out of control because frozen food companies don't seem to understand you don't need to use so much salt).

on May 1, 2012

Lean Cuisine has a spa entree that is absolutely delicious and at 6 WW points plus and only 270 calories is a perfect lunch. You have to try their Lemongrass Chicken w/ brown rice and veggies- yum!!

on May 1, 2012

I make 4 servings of steel cut oatmeal at a time and keep them in frig. Just follow directions on the box and divide up in 4 bowls when ready. I stir in organic raisins while still hot in bowls.

on May 1, 2012

I like the Smart Ones turkey medallion meal and some of the Kashi meals. The steamer meals are okay. None of them are great, but sometimes, I feel like eating turkey and I'll have one for lunch. I agree that the rice and beans meal is great over lettuce. I cook a lot more than I use frozen foods. I like what I make a lot better.

on May 1, 2012

I usually eat breakfast at my desk at work because I'm in no mood to sit down to breakfast at home. I sometimes stop at Starbucks for one of their low point breakfasts but I don't like spending that much $$. I now make my own breakfast sandwhiches on the weekend and freeze them individually. Recipe: eggwhites, crumbled bacon, light shredded cheese, chopped tomato and/ or spinach and a little water. I mix it all together and put it in a 6 cup muffin tin and bake them. When cool put in individual bagges and freeze. (4 WW Plus pts). I ususlly put one on a bagel thin.

on May 1, 2012

Where do I buy Amy's? I live in Arizona.

on May 1, 2012

I love the taste of Smart Ones but not the long ingredient list. Kashi makes some REALLY good ones with lots of fiber and such (although I usually wait until they go on sale). I haven't tried their steam bag version, but it looks good too.

on May 1, 2012

I enjoy the breakfast entrees (not the quesadillas) from Smart Ones. However, I do not like their other offerings. I love the new chef line for Lean Cuisine! Different flavors, picked by actual chefs! Ones you might recognize. I do not like Healthy Choice and am on the fence with Kashi.

I use these entrees as lunch while at work. Sometimes I have leftovers from the night before, but feeding a family of 5 I don't usually have much left over. I always bulk up my frozen meals with extra veggies and/or a salad.

on May 1, 2012

I usually get those green giant steamers, and I will make some brown rice the night before and bring that as a lunch the next day. I heat up the rice with a wet paper towel and it taste pretty fresh. I usually buy the green giants with no or little sauce and just mix it for a veggie and rice meal. Not the greatest but it works for those nights I have no time. I am a full time student and work 40 hours a week so these come in handy.

on May 1, 2012

on May 1, 2012

The only Lean Cuisine entree I like is sweet and sour chicken. I can't find it anywhere ever.

on May 1, 2012

I rarely bother with frozen meals anymore, except maybe an Amy's frozen pizza on occasion. Other than that, you just get too little bang for your buck, and too much sodium. I just try to get up a little earlier to pack up my WW lunch.

on May 1, 2012

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on May 1, 2012

I too will add a bag of frozen veggies to my prepared frozen meal to bulk up the amount of food without adding calories. There's usually more than enough sauce. However, I'm now trying to get away eating from frozen dinners. I've tried to create my own by cooking up my own chicken 'nuggets' and freezing them. Then I can add them to a bag of the frozen veggies and rice (one's without sauce) and have a better version of a frozen dinner for a quick lunch. There's not nearly as much sodium and I know it's real chicken. I also make my own meatballs and freeze them. I can add them to sauce or make a meatball sub. The nuggets and meatballs can be made in bulk at one time and frozen so it's not a huge time sink.

on May 1, 2012

To Kamaryn who asked about quick breakfasts. I recently started eating steel-cut oats and I've never been a big oatmeal fan (except in cookie form!). I make it with unsweetened vanilla almond milk and a little water. Then when it's done I stir in some coconut, a few slivered almonds and a few mini chocolate chips. I've found it's just as good warmed up in the microwave the next morning and it keeps me full. I'm sure there are ways to make it healthier but I enjoy eating it and the oats are good for me!

on May 1, 2012

I helped start a group at church that does just this! We get together at the church and assemble homemade meals and then take them home and freeze them. You wouldn't believe what you can freeze--so many things!

on May 1, 2012

I love the Butternut Squash one from Lean Cuisine. I have that with a piece of fruit and a 1/2 cup of lowfat cottage cheese or a fat free yogurt, and I am completely satisfied.

I also like the Santa Fe style rice and beans. I sometimes have that when I have made tacos at home for the family. I have mine with some cilantro, salsa, and fat free sour cream in whole wheat tortilla. YUMMO!

on May 1, 2012

I have tried Lean Cuisine but I think the sodium intake was too high for me so I stopped. I just bought two bags of Kashi frozen meals, I like Kashi products. Will see how they turn out.

on May 1, 2012

I've got to agree on the Sante Fe-style Rice & Beans because I found it pretty good too. I've also found some of the Asian-type ones to be pretty good too, although the rice can tend to harden if you microwave it for too long.

I review a lot of these from Lean Cuisine and Weight Watchers on my site at so if you or your readers are interested in checking out some reviews on additional flavors, check out the site.

on May 1, 2012

I like Kashi best - Black Bean Mango, Pesto Pasta Primavera, and Spicy Black Bean Enchilada. I also like the new Lean Cuisine Fajita Egg Rolls.

on May 1, 2012

I've had and liked the Santa fe style rice and beans. I really enjoyed reading all of these comments and ideas every one has shared. Thanks for all of the great meal suggestions.

on May 1, 2012

Amy's, IMO, is the best, and I can feel less guilty about eating a boxed meal, so for me, it's worth the extra $$s

on May 1, 2012

my husband and i LOVE healthy choice barbecue steak with red potatoes!! in fact, i copy-catted the recipe and make it in bulk! lol.. that way i can control how many veggies to put in it, and i can choose the meat. I use steamer bags and stack them in my freezer.

on May 2, 2012

I LOVE Amy's frozen meals. Every time I eat one, it always surprises me on how good and real it tastes.

on May 3, 2012

I love the Santa Fe Rice & Beans. While I know that they aren't good enough for us to eat everyday, they are great to grab in a pinch when you don't have something made for lunch.

You have to hunt and peck through trial and error to find the ones you like, though. Then, remember them so you don't get the ones you don't like again! I find the Mexican ones in any brand are generally the best tasting. However, I am not a fan of Healthy Choice. I find them flavorless. But I haven't bought them in years because of that.

I love the Lean Cuisine Spa Cuisines, specifically the Salmon with Basil. that one really surprised me! It's a great way to get fish in my diet since we don't eat a lot at home. (My husband is allergic to poultry and fish.)

on May 3, 2012

I, too enjoy Santa Fe Rice and Beans, from WW, but also lean cuisine. I also love lean cuisine's cheese ravioli, it only has 220 calories! ww makes a good ravioli as well. healthy choice has lots of great steamable entrees that come out great. i just add lots of veggies and they keep me full- and thin :)

on May 4, 2012

Sorry Smart Ones is too processed for me. Amy's Organic all the way!!

on May 16, 2012

I have the Smart One breakfasts in the morning from time to time and the ones I get are good. I get the Breakfast Quesdilla, the turkey saugage English Muffin and the egg roll up ones. I eat that with a fruit. I don't usually like the frozen meals for lunch or dinner as they do not satisfy me (and I am a lifetime member at Weight Watchers) and they do have lots of sodium. However, if I need to have that for lunch, I usually always make a salad!

on May 22, 2012

I agree with the above about the Kashi steam meals. They are heaven!

on June 5, 2012

Have you tried the Get Healthy America Meals??? go to

the blintzes are amazing!

on June 5, 2012

I would like to go on a Smart ones frozen diet. I have not officially joined weight watchers, so I had to find info on how to calculate my points. If I did it correctly I can eat 29 points per day. Anyone have any info. or easy to follow frozen smart ones diet plan?

on February 24, 2013

I really love Kashi the food tastes real, with lots if protein and whole grain. Amy's are my second choice. These were recommended by a nutritionist I had seen when I asked what she would recommend for me with my crazy schedule. I watch when they're on sale and stock up.

on May 7, 2013

It's just so ironic that you mentioned the Smart Ones "Santa Fe Rice and Beans". Please compare this to the Lean Cuisine version, also called "Santa Fe Rice and Beans". Now, it might be b/c of the salt or something, but I do believe the Lean Cuisine is much tastier than the Smart Ones version by the same name!! Try it and tell me what your comparison is. Just tastes better in Lean Cuisine version, IMHO.

on May 9, 2013

I like to get the Smart Ones pizza and top it with chopped veggies. They cook while it is cooking.

on September 19, 2013

Yes, I agree that frozen meals have alot of sodium, so I don't eat them alot but...sometimes they are helpful. I love the Smart Ones Angel Hair Marinara. It has zucchini and squash in it. I buy a couple of fresh squash, steam them in the microwave and add them to the meal. It makes it heartier (more food) and much more filling!

on September 23, 2013

Smart Ones meatloaf and potato is not very good, meat was ok but the potato looked like grey soup, they can never get it right after all these years.Someone out there must be able to do potatoes!A man went to the moon in the 70s.... Peg

on June 10, 2019

I have looked at MANY brands trying to get the lowest sodium. Lean Cuisine meals definitely beat out the rest. They are tasty and I can get quite a variety with 550 or less mg of salt. Many other brands have over 1000 per meal. I go Lean Cuisine all the way.

on September 25, 2019

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