My latest 7-Day Menu Plan for 1200 to 1500 calories is almost finished! This plan is based around the ease of heating up a frozen entree for supper each evening. With all the possible frozen entrees available in today’s supermarkets how do you know what makes a healthy choice? Today I’ll share some guidelines for you along with a few suggestions for specific products.
When planning low calorie nutritious meals to help you look good, feel good, and be healthy as the pounds come off, you need lean protein, whole grains, and colorful veggies. The frozen entrees that I’m familiar with are not sufficiently well balanced to provide you with all you need. However, the right selections can give you a starting point to which you can add complementary and low calorie nutritious food.
If you are on a low calorie diet of 1200 to 1300 calories choose frozen meals with no more than 350 calories. For 1400 to 1500 calorie diets your best bet are frozen meals with no more than 400 calories.
Beyond calories, limit the fat grams to less than 15 with no more than 4 grams of saturated fat and no trans fats. Excess sodium from salt and other sources is a big problem with processed foods! Aim for fewer than 700 mg.
Pick meals with 10 grams or more of protein. Lean protein plays an important role in keeping you healthy and satisfied on a low calorie diet! Also look for at least 4 grams of dietary fiber. Like protein, dietary fiber will go a long way to keep you filled up and satisfied from one meal or snack to the next.
Last but not least check out how much vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron is available. The more the better unless you are postmenopausal, in which case the iron content will not be as important. All too often these nutrients are not well represented and that means you will need to supplement your meal with other food to balance it out.
O.K. so what are some of the better choices for frozen entrees in grocery stores today? I’ve chosen 6 that meet or come close to meeting the guidelines I provided above for nutrition. In addition, I spent some time determining whether or not you might like the taste. How did I do that? I looked at the ratings provided on two food review sites. Zeer.com and HeatEatReview.com are two websites you might want to bookmark for future reference!
[For quick and easy access to food review sites, 1200 calorie diet plans, menu plans,calorie and nutrient databases, and so much more whether you are following a 1200, 1300, 1400, or 1500 calorie diet you might want to download my no cost toolbar to your web browser. Just go to my 1200 calorie diet page.]
The frozen meals included here are not ranked or listed in any particular order by nutrition or taste:
Amy’s Kitchen Stuffed Pasta Shells
You gotta love Amy’s Kitchen products. This particular dish is made with organic pasta and vegetables. There are no GMO’s or bio-engineered ingredients. All the dairy ingredients are made with pasteurized hormone-free milk and do not contain animal enzymes or rennet.
Nutrition: 310 calories, 19 g protein, 5 grams dietary fiber, 13 grams fat, plus 40% of vitamins A & D, and 40% calcium. It doesn’t meet my guidelines for sodium at 740 mg (Just keep your salt intake under control for the rest of the day).
Reviews: No reviews on Zeer and 5 out of 5 stars on HeatEatReview.
Kashi Sweet and Sour Chicken
This meal includes sliced roasted chicken, green beans, yellow pepper, red pepper, crimini mushrooms, onions, and edamame beans. It has only high quality all natural ingredients with no preservatives or artificial anything!
Nutrition: 320 calories, 18 grams protein, 6 grams dietary fiber, 3.5 grams fat, and 380 mg sodium.
Reviews: 4 stars out of 5 on Zeer and 5 out of 5 on HeatEatReview.
Amy’s Garden Vegetable Lasagna (Note: Trader Joe’s Garden Vegetable Lasagna rates equally well.)
This seemingly tasty dish is made with organic rice, pasta, and vegetables. It has 0 trans fat and no preservatives or bio-engineered ingredients.
Nutrition: 290 calories, 13 grams protein, 5 grams of dietary fiber, 9 grams of fat, and 720 mg of sodium. As with the Stuffed Pasta Shells this Amy’s kitchen product has quite a bit of sodium, just over my recommendation but otherwise it rates well.
Reviews: No reviews on Zeer. 4.5 out of 5 stars on HeatEatReview.
Kashi Mayan Harvest Bake
This dish is actually a vegan meal but don’t let that scare you away. It serves up a combination of plantains (a type of banana), black beans, sweet potato, and kale. I’ve tried it and have found it to be very tasty and nutritious although a little low in protein.
Nutrition: 340 calories, 9 grams of protein, 8 grams of dietary fiber, 9 grams of fat, and 380 mg of sodium.
Reviews: Unfortunately there are no reviews on either Zeer or HeatEatReview. So go ahead and give it a try and then leave a review to let other people know how good it really is!
Amy’s Whole Wheat Cheese and Pesto Pizza
This meal has all natural organic ingredients. It’s made with whole-wheat flour, pesto, tomatoes, and cheese. It’s so simple, from what I understand it appeals to even the pickiest of eaters – children.
Nutrition: A serving of 1/3 of the pizza is 320 calories with 18 grams of protein, 6 grams dietary fiber, 3.5 grams fat, and 380 mg sodium.
Reviews: No reviews on Zeer. 5 out of 5 stars on HeatEatReview.
Lean Cuisine Three Cheese Stuffed Rigatoni
Lean Cuisine says the dish is made with “zucchini, carrots, and red peppers in a fire roasted tomato sauce topped with mozzarella cheese.” I’d say that this product is a rare example in which the nutritional value comes close to matching the perceived value but don’t let that fool you. It is very low in calories so you will still need to supplement your meal with additional food to satisfy your caloric and nutritional needs.
Nutrition: 230 calories, 13 grams protein, 4 grams dietary fiber, 6 grams fat, and 370 mg sodium. In addition, it has 60% of the dietary value for Vitamin A, 15% for Vitamin C, and 20% for calcium.
Reviews: No reviews on Zeer. 5 stars out of 5 on HeatEatReview.
If you’d like more suggestions, check back to see the 7 selections I share with my latest 7-Day Menu coming soon! Also, you might want to take a look at the top frozen meals rated by Consumer Reports Magazine as shared on HeatEatReview. Hope my suggestions for selecting the best frozen entrees make it a little easier for you when you need a nutritious meal in a hurry.
Till next time, watch those calories and eat healthy food!