Photo: Kashi Black Bean Mango. It was tasty and had some heat kick to it.
Living as a bootstrapping entrepreneur who sometimes has no time to cook, I have started buying more frozen meals because come lunch time or dinner, the frozen meals are fast, the food can keep in the fridge for a long time, and you can always find a sale.
But just because something is cheap and easy doesn't mean that it's good for you. Two of the big drawbacks to frozen meals is too much sodium and/or too many additives, preservatives, and artificial ingredients. The good news though is that there is a growing number of companies offering frozen organic and all natural meals which makes this camper very happy.
And even though frozen foods are getting better as a whole, it's also good to remember to eat as much freshly made meals as possible and use the frozen meals sparingly because the frozen meals are still processed foods. Feed your body as much fresh greens, fruits, and grains.
Here's what I look for when I buy frozen meals:
- My three favorite frozen meal brands are Amy's Kitchen, Ian's and Kashi. These brands have a wide variety of choices like organic, all natural, gluten free, vegan, non GMO, corn free, kosher, soy free, and so on. These brands can also be found in almost every major retail grocery store. Ian's has these mini cheeseburgers that are totally awesome, and let me have some burger enjoyment without any guilt. Other organic or all natural brands I enjoy include Whole Foods Whole Kitchen, Blake's All Natural, Sunshine Veggie Burgers, and Rising Moon.
- I'm an ingredients list stickler and read all the labels. The ingredients list doesn't have to be all natural but if I see more than 2 ingredients that have a mono-, -icide, syrup, or -trate in it, I pass. Also, there should be more ingredients you recognize than ones you don't. I stick to ingredients that are made by mother nature, and contrary to the corn syrup industry, I don't consider HFCS natural just because it came from corn. Please.
- Frozen pizza is something most of us buy. Normally I buy single serving which is actually good to cut in half and share with another person and pair it with a salad. You can get a pizza taste without overdoing the calories and fat because pizza can dent the caloric bank account pretty fast. The nice thing about frozen pizzas is that you can take the regular size ones, cut them in half, and eat one side, and keep the other for another time. There are also several brands who make pizza hors devourers sizes which again is great for bites of pizza instead of whole slices. My favorite are the 365 brand cheese minis at Whole Foods.
- Organic frozen meals are ideal but they can get pricey too. The Whole Foods 365 brand frozen meals are pretty cheap at their normal price usually under $5 I have found at my local store. For other brands, you can always find a sale somewhere. It takes just a little research but you can find sales on organic frozen meals. Also, try the websites of the food maker because many of them are now offering coupons you can print out or go to the customer service desk at your grocery store and ask if they have any coupons.
- Be a stickler about the sodium. The American Heart Association recommends 2,400mg of sodium daily for adults. Ideally something that is low sodium like in the 400mg and under range is good. There are many frozen foods that can have 700mg or more per serving, so in essence you're taking in about 1/3 of your daily sodium intake in just one meal. Spread your sodium intake around to other meals.
What are some things you consider or look for when buying frozen meals?