While it may seem easy to simply reach for the nearest takeout menu, it can be healthier to ward off the temptation by stocking your freezer with an arsenal of healthy (and tasty) frozen dinners.
"When shopping for frozen meals, go for options that have a combination of lean protein, whole grains and veggies, so it's a balanced meal," says Victoria Seaver, M.S., R.D., Digital Meal Plan Editor for EatingWell. And when considering how healthy they are, make sure you read the nutrition labels. Keep it around—or under— 500 calories, "and with no more than 700 mg of sodium per serving," says Seaver.
We scoured our local Walmart for the best healthy frozen meals and were pretty impressed with the options. Not everything was healthy, but we found more than a few options that boasted plenty of protein, fiber and a hefty serving of veggies. Then we brought them back to our offices and gave them all a try. Here, the six that passed muster:
Photo: Healthy Choice
We were big fans of the new selections Healthy Choice has to offer with their Power Bowls line. This dish is made with a pretty tasty all-natural chicken sausage, roasted sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens and barley. And the creamy roasted garlic sauce pairs well with all of it. At 340 calories, this is a great shortcut meal for weight loss or simply trying to avoid the drive-thru after a long day. Plus, it has eight grams of fiber and 16 grams of protein to keep you full until breakfast.
Photo: Amy's Kitchen
This vegan meal from Amy's Kitchen is the perfect breakfast—or breakfast for dinner. Made with organic tofu, vegetables and crispy hash browns, it's got a hearty taste and is as comforting as it is good for you. The entree clocks in at 340 calories, 22g protein and 4g fiber. Just heat, add a dash of hot sauce and you've got a tasty meal wherever you are.
Yup, that's us! You may have seen our line of nutritious frozen dinners while shopping—and they're actually pretty tasty, if we do say so ourselves! This 310-calorie chicken dish is packed with 22g protein and provides one cup of veggies per serving. This meal offers even more bang for your buck, as it is an excellent source of Vitamin A, calcium, fiber and iron. And who doesn't love a creamy pesto sauce? EatingWell frozen entrées are available at select Walmart locations. Find out where to buy here.
Related: Make-Ahead Freezer Meals
Photo: Lean Cuisine
This frozen meal from Lean Cuisine's new line is much healthier than many takeout curry options out there. The veggie-packed dish packs a whopping 20g fiber in its meager 260 calories and would pair well with a piece of whole wheat naan or pita bread to make a more filling meal. One caveat: It's at the top of our sodium recommendations, so be sure to watch your sodium intake throughout the rest of the day if you dine on this.
Photo: Healthy Choice
Made with brown rice, ancient grains, dark leafy greens, veggies and falafel, this is one pretty nutritious dish! This meal is 360 calories and has 10g fiber and 11g protein. And we found that the falafel was surprisingly tasty, so it's a great dish if you're craving that Mediterranean place down the street.
Related: Best Frozen Meals for Diabetes
Made from pulled-style pork in a vibrant port sauce with lots of real cherry halves, roasted red potatoes, green beans and carrots, this is a dinner that is sure to satisfy. It's only 270 calories, so you might want to pair this dish with a snack or some microwavable brown rice to make sure you stay full. Otherwise, the dish's 16g of protein and 4g fiber will aid in keeping your belly happy til morning.
500 calories is a healthy amount to aim for at lunch and dinner but most frozen meals we found were only in the 300 to 350 range, which may not be filling enough on their own. To bump up the calories and make these meals more filling, add a simple veggie side, a whole-wheat dinner roll or a healthy snack to round out the meal. And for those meals higher in sodium, check out our Low-Sodium Diet Center for tips and recipes to make sure the rest of your day keeps you within the recommended 2,300 mg limit.
Related: Steps to Start a Low-Sodium Diet