When you’re hunting for healthy foods at the grocery store, the freezer section isn’t exactly the first place you’ll think to hit. Busy people have been counting on frozen foods as a convenient way to conjure up a meal for decades and while Hot Pockets, Pizza Rolls and Toaster Strudels are still guaranteed home runs, there are lots of companies making frozen meals today that will please both your dietitian and your tastebuds.
Here’s a look at some of the healthiest frozen meals on the market, based on nutritional information and customer reviews. And because no one wants to eat bland TV dinners, these frozen meals are tasty, too.
1. Jafflz Enchilada Toasted Pocket
Nutrition information per serving: 320 calories, 9 g fat (4 g saturated, 0 g trans fats), 50 mg cholesterol, 550 mg sodium, 38 g carbohydrates, 23 g protein
If you love the ease of a handheld meal like Hot Pockets, but can’t get over the fact that you’re eating more than 1,000 milligrams of sodium and a whopping 12 grams of saturated fat, you should try Jafflz Toasted Pockets. The Utah-based brand boasts that it uses no artificial ingredients and antibiotic-free chicken in crafting its pocket sandwiches. The Enchilada Toasted Pocket has about half the calories, half the sodium and a third of the saturated fat of a Hot Pocket, while packing more protein.
2. Stouffer’s Fit Kitchen Cali Chicken
Nutrition information per serving: 340 calories, 11 g fat (2 g saturated, 0 g trans fats), 35 mg cholesterol, 570 mg sodium, 37 g carbohydrates, 24 g protein
Stouffer’s is known for comforting frozen classics like its lasagna, French bread pizza and macaroni and cheese, but you get a healthier meal from the brand with this pick. The Fit Kitchen Cali Chicken bills itself as a protein bowl and that makes sense when you consider it’s got 24 grams of protein per serving, which is the most of any meal featured on this list. Its sodium content is a bit higher than others on the list, but is still only 25% of your recommended daily intake, which means it has far less than most entrees you’ll find in the freezer section.
3. Performance Kitchen Creamy Cauliflower Mac & Cheese
Nutrition information per serving: 350 calories, 10 g fat (4 g saturated, 0 g trans fats), 15 mg cholesterol, 400 mg sodium, 56 g carbohydrates, 11 g protein
You wouldn’t necessarily think of macaroni and cheese as a healthy meal, especially out of the freezer, but this offering from Performance Kitchen pulls it off. Each serving of this entree, which is made with brown rice macaroni in a Monterey Jack, cheddar and butternut squash sauce, has far less fat, cholesterol and less than half the sodium of Stouffer’s frozen Macaroni & Cheese. The carb content is a bit higher than many of the options on this list, but it’s tough to keep that low with any noodle-based entree.
4. Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers Pineapple Chicken
Nutrition information per serving: 290 calories, 4.5 g fat (1 g saturated, 0 g trans fats), 35 mg cholesterol, 470 mg sodium, 45 g carbohydrates, 16 g protein
Healthy Choice is one of the most readily available brands on our list and its Cafe Steamers line has a couple of healthy options you can probably find at your local store. The single-serving Pineapple Chicken entree is one of the best, as it packs less than 300 calories but a solid 16 grams of protein. That’s the kind of easy-to-make lunch that can energize you for the rest of the workday without making you feel sluggish and bloated.
5. Bell & Evans Gourmet Chicken Burgers
Nutrition information per serving: 160 calories, 8 g fat (2.5 g saturated, 0 g trans fats), 90 mg cholesterol, 95 mg sodium, 0 g carbohydrates, 22 g protein
We’ve got a few healthy alternatives to hamburgers on our list, and this is a great choice for people who just aren’t into plant-based patties. Bell & Evans uses 100% natural chicken meat for its patties, which are low in calories, carbs, cholesterol, fat and sodium. The 22 grams of protein you’ll get from a single patty is also outstanding and makes these burgers a great choice to slice up and put on top of a lunch salad. More than 700 customers at Amazon have given them an average grade of 4.5 stars out of five, showing that they apparently don’t sacrifice anything in flavor, either.
6. Applegate Well Carved Organic Asian Style Pork Meatballs
Nutrition information per serving (three meatballs): 220 calories, 16 g fat (5 g saturated, 0 g trans fats), 40 mg cholesterol, 470 mg sodium, 7 g carbohydrates, 10 g protein
Applegate is known for its deli meats, but it also offers a line of frozen entrees under the Well Carved banner. The Asian Style Pork Meatballs are a great choice for a healthy weeknight dinner if you are short on prep time. Each box has a little more than three servings of three meatballs, which eat up just 220 calories from your daily total, leaving plenty of room for a side. While they are billed as pork meatballs, these actually contain 1/4 cup of vegetables in each serving, as well as some brown rice mixed in.
7. Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers Cajun-Style Chicken and Shrimp
Nutrition information per serving: 220 calories, 2.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated, 0 g trans fats), 40 mg cholesterol, 600 mg sodium, 35 g carbohydrates, 15 g protein
Another option from the Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers line is this take on Cajun chicken and shrimp that’s served on a bed of rice. The nutrition facts between this and the Pineapple Chicken option are very similar, with this being the slightly lower-calorie one, so you can feel good popping either one into the microwave. This one also packs more protein and boasts 3 grams of fiber, if that’s something on your radar.
8. Lean Cuisine Marketplace Chicken With Almonds
Nutrition information per serving: 290 calories, 5 g fat (0.5 g saturated, 0 g trans fats), 25 mg cholesterol, 490 mg sodium, 44 g carbohydrates, 16 g protein
Lean Cuisine is another brand that’s synonymous with the freezer section, but not all of its entrees live up to its name. Lean Cuisine Marketplace Chicken with Almonds, however, is very lean indeed. In addition to having less than 300 calories, one of these meals has less than 1 gram of saturated fat and packs 16 grams of protein. Containing less than 500 milligrams of sodium also makes it far better in that department than many ready-made meals or soups you’ll find at the store.
9. Green Giant California Style Harvest Protein Bowl
Nutrition information per serving: 280 calories, 8 g fat (1.5 g saturated, 0 g trans fats), 5 mg cholesterol, 530 mg sodium, 40 g carbohydrates, 14 g protein
When Real Simple asked a dietitian to name the five healthiest frozen foods on the market, this entree from Green Giant was on the list. While it’s not the healthiest option on the list of frozen meals we researched, the California Style Harvest Protein Bowl is a great choice. Quinoa, lentils, kale, edamame and other superfoods make up this meat-free bowl, which still manages to hold 14 grams of protein.
10. Kashi Black Bean Mango Bowl
Nutrition information per serving: 310 calories, 8 g fat (1 g saturated, 0 g trans fats), 0 mg cholesterol, 250 mg sodium, 55 g carbohydrates, 9 g protein
If you’re looking to cut meat out of your life, this is one of the better frozen meals you’ll be able to find. Kashi’s Black Bean Mango Bowl is ideal for lunchtime, as it packs just 250 milligrams of sodium, which is remarkably low for a frozen entree. That means it won’t make you feel bloated and, with 9 grams of protein, it should help energize you for the last half of your workday.