Is there such a thing as a healthy frozen meal?

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    Sep 09, 2012 3:55 AM GMT
    My life is crazy with school and work at the moment, and sometimes I just want something quick to eat at night instead of spending some time (which I know I should do!) cooking myself a healthy meal. The simple fact is that I get lazy sometimes and grab something frozen. I only grab ethnic gourmet meals which have no preservatives in them, but I still can't shake the feeling that I am eating, well, crap. So is there such a thing as healthy frozen meals? If so, what should I be looking for in one, and what brands should I steer clear from?
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    Sep 09, 2012 2:44 PM GMT
    I'm no expert, but I would say, "no?" It is partially the preservatives, but also the sodium, source of produce/meat, preparation method, and many ingredients and "natural flavors." In reality, if you want to stick with quick frozen meals.... just make your own food and freeze it.

    I usually do something like make a pot of edamame, pan of tofu, and some side like squash/Brussels sprouts/etc for a week meal.. Then I refrigerate in individual tubaware. I also make sauces ahead of time also (on busy weeks). Pesto/Alfredo can be refrigerated or frozen.

    Good luck!

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    Sep 09, 2012 2:47 PM GMT
    What about preparing the food yourself when you do have time and storing it in a vacuum-sealed bag?
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    Sep 09, 2012 3:27 PM GMT
    the frozen dinners you find at grocery stores are full of crap ingredients, preservatives and chemicals. you're right. its eating crap.

    the only way you can find good wholesome healthy frozen meals is to go to a specialty butcher or organic grocer. some of them make prepared meals using their good ingredients and freeze them. they will only be good for 2-4 weeks and they are more expensive, but they're good for you.

    in toronto we have a few places like this
    http://www.thehealthybutcher.com/
    http://www.cumbraes.com/
    http://www.rowefarms.ca/

    and you can buy frozen pot-pies, lasagnas, ravioli, roasts, chilis, stews, meat pies, etc.

    or you can take a lesson from them. go to a grocery store, buy good ingredients and learn how to make a few dishes. you can make these on the weekends, and portion out into plastic storage containers and freeze yourself. lasagnas, pastas, stews, pies, etc all work well in this way, and are easily microwaveable.

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    Sep 09, 2012 3:43 PM GMT
    Ideally make and freeze your own or buy them from a local health-food market, but if you can't, then you can rely on ingredients lists and nutrition information on packages. Some brands like Amy's are pretty good across the board, but other's like Kashi have some healthy options and other not-so-healthy options, so you need to be careful with those. Here's an article comparing some:


    http://shine.yahoo.com/healthy-living/10-best-worst-frozen-foods-184000008.html
  • calibro

    Posts: 8888

    Sep 09, 2012 5:03 PM GMT
    frozen peas are pretty healthy
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    Sep 09, 2012 5:13 PM GMT
    Yes, the leftover soup I froze and reheated today.

    This might be a good solution for you, too.

    I will often make a big pot of soup on the weekends - I control the ingredients and know it's really healthy things going into it. I buy those freezable containers and freeze the leftover portions to eat at a later time.


    :-D
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    Sep 09, 2012 5:30 PM GMT
    ConQuest saidYes, the leftover soup I froze and reheated today.

    This might be a good solution for you, too.

    I will often make a big pot of soup on the weekends - I control the ingredients and know it's really healthy things going into it. I buy those freezable containers and freeze the leftover portions to eat at a later time.


    :-D


    I like your idea a bunch actually! I'd rather take the time to freeze my own meals (which are actually pretty healthy) than having to waste time trying to figure out what frozen foods are actually worth the price!
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    Sep 09, 2012 5:42 PM GMT
    Yum, yum, frozen dinners. I lived for years on four-for-five-dollars Banquet TV dinners, frozen chicken pot pies, etc. I've cut them out now but still love El Monterey eight-in-a-pack frozen burritos!
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    Sep 09, 2012 5:51 PM GMT
    I agree with what's been posted above. I would never, ever eat a packaged, preserved, frozen store bought meal. However, I do often make a large pot of stew, chili, veggie lasagna, or gumbo, portion it out in Tupperware and freeze it for a quick meal later. That way, I know it's healthy. I know what I've put in it.
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    Sep 09, 2012 5:54 PM GMT
    Global_Citizen saidI agree with what's been posted above. I would never, ever eat a packaged, preserved, frozen store bought meal. However, I do often make a large pot of stew, chili, veggie lasagna, or gumbo, portion it out in Tupperware and freeze it for a quick meal later. That way, I know it's healthy. I know what I've put in it.


    Whoa, veggie lasagna sounds like a super good recipe! Do you mind if I ask what the recipe is?
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    Sep 09, 2012 6:57 PM GMT
    censorthis1 said
    Global_Citizen saidI agree with what's been posted above. I would never, ever eat a packaged, preserved, frozen store bought meal. However, I do often make a large pot of stew, chili, veggie lasagna, or gumbo, portion it out in Tupperware and freeze it for a quick meal later. That way, I know it's healthy. I know what I've put in it.


    Whoa, veggie lasagna sounds like a super good recipe! Do you mind if I ask what the recipe is?

    I don't really have "a" recipe. I kind of wing it depending on what flavors I'm in the mood for.

    One thing I've learned as I've moved away from a meat based diet is that you have to choose food with big, robust flavors. So I typically use a home made pesto sauce that includes about a cup of fresh chopped basil, about four cloves of garlic, salt, olive oil, and parmasean cheese. I also make a tomato sauce myself with tomatoes, oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper, garlic, and onions (store bought is OK too, but I like my own sauce).

    Then I layer whole wheat lasagna noodles with pesto and tomato sauce in between layers. I always use chopped spinach, garlic, and carmelized onions. And depending on what I'm in the mood for, I'll use some combination of roasted red peppers, asparagus, artichokes, chopped broccoli, fennel, mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, olives, or hot peppers. And cheese is a must. I usually use a combination of mozzarella, parmasean, and gruyere.
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    Sep 09, 2012 7:11 PM GMT
    Global_Citizen that sounds amazing. I'm definitely making that today, but I'll switch out the past (just cuz I'm cutting out wheat products) and go with egg plant or zucchini as a substitute. I'll be able to eat well for days. Thanks for the help icon_biggrin.gif

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    Sep 09, 2012 7:22 PM GMT
    censorthis1 saidGlobal_Citizen that sounds amazing. I'm definitely making that today, but I'll switch out the past (just cuz I'm cutting out wheat products) and go with egg plant or zucchini as a substitute. I'll be able to eat well for days. Thanks for the help icon_biggrin.gif


    I think you could definitely substitute zucchini or eggplant. Maybe also fried plantain. Now I'm making myself hungry!
  • FRE0

    Posts: 4865

    Sep 10, 2012 12:20 AM GMT
    No, there is no such thing as healthy frozen meat. Only something that is living can be healthy. Who ever heard of a dead person or animal that is healthy? Food can, however, be healthful.
  • Fritter

    Posts: 1696

    Sep 10, 2012 12:26 AM GMT
    I once made the mistake of reading the Nutritional panel on a Hungary Man frozen dinner. I was shocked to see that this one meal had over 120% of my RDI of sodium!!!! Why do they need to be such salt licks?
  • Twenty_Someth...

    Posts: 1388

    Sep 10, 2012 12:29 AM GMT
    MileHighYo saidWhat about preparing the food yourself when you do have time and storing it in a vacuum-sealed bag?


    Exactly!!!! You don't need preservatives in a freezer when no air is present.
  • FRE0

    Posts: 4865

    Sep 10, 2012 12:32 AM GMT
    Fritter saidI once made the mistake of reading the Nutritional panel on a Hungary Man frozen dinner. I was shocked to see that this one meal had over 120% of my RDI of sodium!!!! Why do they need to be such salt licks?


    Na is a problem. Standard Campbell's tomato juice contains 28% of the RDA of Na. Look at labels for bread, cereal, etc. It's hard not to get more than 100% of the RDA of Na. Packaged meats can also have greatly excessive Na.
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    Sep 10, 2012 1:28 AM GMT
    Is there such a thing as a healthy frozen meal?

    Yes, it's called ice cream. icon_biggrin.gif

    Well, maybe not healthy, but it tastes so good, and hardly any preparation.

    Actually I do think many frozen vegetables are good, I find consistent quality with major US brands like BirdsEye. And they microwave quick and easy, some in their own single-serving steamer pouches, though that's a more expensive cost per ounce than buying a large bag and resealing in plastic containers.

    As for the main course I'm a big fan of supermarket rotisserie whole chickens. They're already cooked and hot when you bring them home, just heat up your veggies in the microwave while you carve. Good source of protein and no greasy frying.

    The leftovers in the fridge can provide a single guy several more meals, either cold in sandwiches, salads, or warmed in the micro. I cover it to reduce drying out when reheating. And in many stores those chickens are between $6 and $7, you get about 3 or 4 meals and they did the original cooking for you. I think a great choice for keeping your kitchen time to a minimum, relatively low cost and healthy, so long as you like chicken.

    If baked potatoes are on your diet you can mic them, too, for a quick meal that's leaves you with almost no clean-up, especially if the veggies are in steamer pouches. The potatoes take the longest, about 7 minutes for 1 medium size, so I start them first, the veggies next.

    Clean the potato in its skin, and perforate with a fork in a few places. Wrap it in a plain white paper towel, safe for microwaving (some print designs get too hot). Place right on the turntable and cook 7 minutes, turning it once halfway through. You'll need to experiment based on potato size and oven power.

    Next you place the potato on a sheet of aluminum foil and remove the paper towel, then wrap the potato tightly. Now you can cook your vegetable, most single-serving pouch varieties needing about 2-3 minutes. I really like that method, BTW, the steaming inside the sealed pouch helps preserve a fresher taste, and there's no pot or container to clean, the veggies go right onto your plate.

    The potato will sit in the foil for 5-10 minutes while you complete everything else, the last item to go on the plate.

    For other kinds of meats when we're lazy or pressed for time we'll resort to our Foreman countertop grill, which does an adequate if not outstanding job on steaks, pork chops, chicken breasts, etc. The results are fairly quick and consistent once you've done it a few times. Our model has removable non-stick cooking surfaces that go right into the dishwasher, because otherwise cleanup can be a chore with those grills.

    Hope you're getting some info in this thread you can use, and bon appetite!
  • tuffguyndc

    Posts: 4437

    Sep 10, 2012 1:35 AM GMT
    VibramRunner saidI'm no expert, but I would say, "no?" It is partially the preservatives, but also the sodium, source of produce/meat, preparation method, and many ingredients and "natural flavors." In reality, if you want to stick with quick frozen meals.... just make your own food and freeze it.

    I usually do something like make a pot of edamame, pan of tofu, and some side like squash/Brussels sprouts/etc for a week meal.. Then I refrigerate in individual tubaware. I also make sauces ahead of time also (on busy weeks). Pesto/Alfredo can be refrigerated or frozen.

    Good luck!

    icon_redface.gificon_redface.gificon_redface.gificon_redface.gificon_redface.gificon_redface.gif
    i agree with what he said
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    Sep 10, 2012 1:44 AM GMT
    Art_Deco saidIs there such a thing as a healthy frozen meal?

    Yes, it's called ice cream. icon_biggrin.gif

    Well, maybe not healthy, but it tastes so good, and hardly any preparation.

    Actually I do think many frozen vegetables are good, I find consistent quality with major US brands like BirdsEye. And they microwave quick and easy, some in their own single-serving steamer pouches, though that's a more expensive cost per ounce than buying a large bag and resealing in plastic containers.

    As for the main course I'm a big fan of supermarket rotisserie chickens. They're already cooked and hot when you bring them home, just heat up your veggies in the microwave while you carve. Good source of protein and no greasy frying.

    The leftovers in the fridge can provide a single guy several more meals, either cold in sandwiches, salads, or warmed in the micro. I cover it to reduce drying out when reheating. And in many stores those chickens are between $6 and $7, you get about 3 or 4 meals and they did the original cooking for you. I think a great choice for keeping your kitchen time to a minimum, relatively low cost and healthy, so long as you like chicken.

    If baked potatoes are on your diet you can mic them, too, for a quick meal that's leaves you with almost no clean-up, especially if the veggies are in steamer pouches. The potatoes take the longest, about 7 minutes for 1 medium size, so I start them first, the veggies next.

    Clean the potato in its skin, and perforate with a fork in a few places. Wrap it in a plain white paper towel, safe for microwaving (some print designs get too hot). Place right on the turntable and cook 7 minutes, turning it once halfway through. You'll need to experiment based on potato size and oven power.

    Next you place the potato on a sheet of aluminum foil and remove the paper towel, then wrap the potato tightly. Now you can cook your vegetable, most single-serving pouch varieties needing about 2-3 minutes. I really like that method, BTW, the steaming inside the sealed pouch helps preserve a fresher taste, and there's no pot or container to clean, the veggies go right onto your plate.

    The potato will sit in the foil for 5-10 minutes while you complete everything else, the last item to go on the plate.

    For other kinds of meats when we're lazy or pressed for time we'll resort to our Foreman countertop grill, which does an adequate if not outstanding job on steaks, pork chops, chicken breasts, etc. The results are fairly quick and consistent once you've done it a few times. Our model has removable non-stick cooking surfaces that go right into the dishwasher, because otherwise cleanup can be a chore with those grills.

    Hope you're getting some info in this thread you can use, and bon appetite!


    You are correct....frozen vegetables are fine and just as healthy as fresh unless you get ones that are made into some sort of concoction. Just get plain. Of course always check the nutritional information. You can find healthy frozen chicken that is not loaded with preservatives and salt but gotta check the labels again. In general, yes many frozen meals are full of crap and 200 ingredients but there are exceptions out there.
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    Sep 10, 2012 2:19 AM GMT
    princeofnash saidYou are correct....frozen vegetables are fine and just as healthy as fresh unless you get ones that are made into some sort of concoction. Just get plain. Of course always check the nutritional information. You can find healthy frozen chicken that is not loaded with preservatives and salt but gotta check the labels again. In general, yes many frozen meals are full of crap and 200 ingredients but there are exceptions out there.

    Well we love vegetables, and again we like those steamer pouches, even though pricier than bulk. They cook better in the microwave in our opinion, there's no cleanup, and we can even each have a different vegetable if the mood strikes us, because the pouches are single serving.

    Our favorites include Brussels sprouts (nice texture, not soggy), green peas, corn, broccoli, green beans, baby carrots and sliced, and cauliflower. There are some medley combinations but we generally prefer a single veggie. And we avoid most fancy preparations, going plain as you said. We can do that ourselves at home if we want, and for much less than the company will charge for it.
  • FRE0

    Posts: 4865

    Sep 10, 2012 2:45 AM GMT
    Art_Deco said
    princeofnash saidYou are correct....frozen vegetables are fine and just as healthy as fresh unless you get ones that are made into some sort of concoction. Just get plain. Of course always check the nutritional information. You can find healthy frozen chicken that is not loaded with preservatives and salt but gotta check the labels again. In general, yes many frozen meals are full of crap and 200 ingredients but there are exceptions out there.

    Well we love vegetables, and again we like those steamer pouches, even though pricier than bulk. They cook better in the microwave in our opinion, there's no cleanup, and we can even each have a different vegetable if the mood strikes us, because the pouches are single serving.

    Our favorites include Brussels sprouts (nice texture, not soggy), green peas, corn, broccoli, green beans, baby carrots and sliced, and cauliflower. There are some medley combinations but we generally prefer a single veggie. And we avoid most fancy preparations, going plain as you said. We can do that ourselves at home if we want, and for much less than the company will charge for it.


    One way to cook frozen vegetables and avoid the cleanup is to cook them in the dishes from which you will be eating. You can get small glass dishes which have tightly fitting covers. They are just the right size for serving and you can easily put two or three of them into a medium size microwave oven.

    A problem with microwave cooking is that it is often uneven; one would suppose that the manufacturers could find an adequate solution for that problem. When cooking vegetables, the solution is to defrost first, then shake the dishes in a way that remixes the contents, then cook for about half the time, shake again, then finish the cooking.
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    Sep 10, 2012 2:46 AM GMT
    Frozen fruits and vegetables. icon_wink.gif
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    Sep 10, 2012 2:54 AM GMT
    We have this Down Under. I would be surprised if North America doesn't have something similar given the larger consumer market.

    9523-HealthyChoice_HoneyMustardChicken.p