Many of us are cooking more these days, but even the best home chef needs a break now and then. If takeout isn't your thing or you're in a hurry and need something fast, Consumer Reports says look no further than your freezer for revamped tasty and nutritious frozen meals.
When it comes to frozen meals, consumers want healthy, less processed ingredients, and manufacturers are delivering bolder flavors plus different cuisines.
Consumer Reports checked out 30 frozen meals that you would find in your supermarket. What’s in them, and how much of the nutritional good stuff are you actually getting?
CR testers first picked apart the meals, weighing healthful ingredients such as vegetables, whole grains and beans.
Although portion sizes could be small, most had 1 to 1/2 cups of these ingredients.
The high-scoring frozen meals were not only tasty but also had mostly whole-food ingredients and they were lower in sodium.
Testers found that manufacturers offer plenty of spices and interesting vegetarian options. But many of the dishes with chicken received lower scores because the chicken was dry or chewy.
Here are some meals that CR says are both nutritious and tasty.
If you like your frozen meal hot—as in spicy—the Unwrapped Burrito Bowl from Healthy Choice Simply Steamers is a flavorful rice and bean dish in a tangy tomatillo sauce with roasted corn and peppers. It costs around $3.50, has 270 calories, and 12 grams of fiber.
Birds Eye Steamfresh Superfood Blends Chickpeas and Spinach can be a whole meal or a side dish. It’s a simple brown rice and barley dish with veggies dressed in fresh citrus flavors. It cost around $4, has 320 calories, and 10 grams of fiber.
Amy’s Bowls Harvest Casserole is a tangy mix of red beans, quinoa and sweet potato, with some kale and broccoli. It costs around $5.50, has 360 calories, and 9 grams of fiber.
If your favorite frozen meal is too small to fill you, CR says to beef it up by serving it with a side salad or mixing in some steamed edamame or roasted cauliflower to boost the nutrition.