How do you guys feel about low calorie frozen meals?



  • seltzermint555
    seltzermint555 Posts: 10,742 Member
    edited August 2019
    Pretty much echoing others' responses...I think they're fine but wouldn't want to eat them regularly and definitely not daily. Lots of other food I prefer that is quick/easy to prepare. I do like them occasionally though and usually find I need to round them out with more vegetables, piece of fruit, or something else. I bought one this week to bring to work because I usually come home & eat a cooked lunch but one day I won't be able to do that. Normally I bring a packed lunch but I'm sick of all my usual options for that... I think they're great for similar situations.

    I tend to go for the "regular" ones with 300-450 calories instead of the lighter versions because 180-200 cal (for example) is definitely NOT enough for a meal, for me. This time I got a Swedish meatballs entree because that's not something we would ever cook at home. I'll bring raisins and/or an apple to go with it.

    Years ago, I ate a Lean Cuisine chicken enchilada suiza for lunch every weekday for an entire summer. I lost a few pounds (had many to lose at the time) and because of that I felt like they were magical. I was completely ignorant about calorie counting at the time and now I know that I could have just planned out a similar calorie lunch each day & enjoyed a lot more variety.
  • kshama2001
    kshama2001 Posts: 27,134 Member
    edited August 2019
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    kshama2001 wrote: »
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    I don't really understand the contention by some that frozen meals are all "processed" in an evil, negative way. Many brands these days are recognizable food items, cooked in recognizable ways, then frozen. (Sure, some have some non-home-kitchen ingredients, but mostly not scary, and some brands don't have anything but regular home-kitchen food in them.) Putting them in a box and freezing them ruins nothing, vs. home-prepped same ingredients.

    For my needs (as a vegetarian), I find most types long on low-nutrient-density carbs, and short on protein and veggies. But the calories are low enough that one could supplement with added veggies (also frozen) and maybe some cottage cheese or something, and be just fine, nutritionally. And I think the meaty ones are often better on the protein side, so maybe only veggie (or dessert fruit) supplementing would be fine (and that's with my "eat way big amounts of veggies/fruit" prejudices).

    I like cooking from scratch, and find home-cooked foods tastier, but I'm retired and have the time so rarely eat the frozen meals these days (I did when working). I don't see why a good-quality frozen meal is "lesser", if in a context where one's full nutritional and caloric needs are met overall.

    While it wasn't me who previously mentioned processed foods, I'll respond. Some brands are super high sodium to fix taste quality problems. When I freeze meals I don't have to add 18 types of salt and sodium in order for them to be palatable when reheated.

    From the Salt chapter of Michael Moss's "Salt, Sugar, Fat":

    "In the world of processed foods, salt is the great fixer. It corrects myriad problems that arise as a matter of course in the factory.

    ..Among all the miracles that salt performs for the processed food industry, perhaps the most essential involves a plague that the industry calls "warmed over flavor,"

    ...One of the most effective cures for WOF is an infusion of fresh spices...But fresh herbs are costly. So manufacturers more typically make sure they have lots of salt in their formulas. The cardboard or dog-hair taste is still there, but overpowered by the salt.

    ...The same Hungry Man turkey dinner that listed salt nine times among its various components also had nine other references to various sodium compounds.

    Y'know, since I no longer have BP problems (weight loss happily fixed that, for me), I don't worry much about salt: I love fermented foods like sauerkraut, kim chi, miso, etc., and many are super salty. I'm over MFP's default goal frequently.

    "Processed" and "too much salt" and "frozen dinners" would have a Venn diagram with some overlap, but not total.

    All frozen dinners (I think) are "processed", but if salt/sodium is a problem for someone, there are some fairly reasonable choices out there, especially in context of an overall decent diet that isn't all frozen dinners, all the time.

    Overgeneralization is a bit of a conceptual trap, IMO.

    Oh, I'm not objecting to high sodium levels per se - when I make Thai food the sodium is off the chart.

    My point was to illustrate that sodium can be used to mask taste quality issues (and other issues). The manufacturer cited was too cheap to use more expensive ingredients like herbs and spices that would have made the meal better, so they dump in salt instead.

    I don't have this issue with foods that I cook and freeze myself. I have a plethora of herbs and spices.

    ETA: Please note I did say "some brands" in my original post. This was meant to illustrate why some brands are high sodium, and was not meant to be a blanket indictment of all frozen meals.
  • debrag12
    debrag12 Posts: 1,070 Member
    I eat them a lot. When I've come home after the pub (not all the time), when my OH is on a late shift and I don't fancy cooking after 10 pm, many reasons really.
  • ejbronte
    ejbronte Posts: 867 Member
    WinoGelato wrote: »
    poisonesse wrote: »
    One word says it all when it comes to frozen meals, low calorie or not. SODIUM! It's off the scale, most meals come in at close to your entire day's sodium goal. Which means they're not healthy. In the short term? If you have to eat them, do so. In the long term, they're just not good for you.

    OH, and while eating those low, 900-1200 calories per day might seem like a great way to lose weight... again, that one word, SODIUM! Which means water retention, which means you don't see the results you might hope to see. ;)

    I just checked the handful of frozen meals in my freezer and they all have b/w 600-700 mg of sodium in them. I don’t have a medical condition causing me to limit sodium so I don’t particularly track it but I believe the standard recommendation is<2,500 mg per day so I’m struggling to see how these meals are “off the scale”.

    Yep, and agreed, for them's as has no need to watch for sodium. For someone like me, who actually tries to stay below 1,000 per day (though I often fail on weekends....), 600 mg is a lot.
  • mitch16
    mitch16 Posts: 2,113 Member
    ythannah wrote: »
    Frozen dinners aren't all Hungry Man nutrition disasters, they've become significantly healthier in recent years as manufacturers realised that consumers want decent food and not just convenience. My father manages to stay below 1500 mg sodium per day, and that includes a frozen meal and an Ensure (not particularly low either!)

    Hungry Man meals aren't necessarily nutrition disasters, depending on your goal! I have a 19 year old college athlete who needs to take consume 4000 calories per day and doesn't always have time to prepare a home cooked meal (and my cooking habits are on the lighter side). He goes to the grocery store and looks for the highest-calorie prepared meals he can find just to maintain weight!

  • BuffyBourbon
    BuffyBourbon Posts: 126 Member
    I definitely include them in my meals, i frequently don't get time to go for lunch when i'm at work at remote locations, so i keep a couple in the freezer at work. I also keep several in the freezer at home. I don't cook much so if i'm on my own for dinner, a frozen meal is delicious. Remember though, that they frequently do change recipes on these things, so if you have any food allergies read the box every time you buy them. I've forgotten the brand but i recently bought a cheese enchilada meal that i've had before, but they've since changed the recipe to include "mushroom essence". I'm allergic to mushrooms, and am glad i glanced at the box as i was waiting for it to cook, who would imagine mushroom essence in a cheese enchilada?
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 41,644 Member
    NewTnme wrote: »
    I wonder has anyone ever really looked into how much sodium they add to their home cooked meals🤔

    I add very little...I rarely cook with it and if I do, it's usually a small pinch in what is an otherwise large recipe. I figure people can salt it on their own if they are so inclined. I cook with a lot of herbs and spices and don't need to dump salt into my cooking to give it flavor.

    I'm hypertensive, so I have to watch my sodium. I high day here and there isn't a big deal, but I eat a largely lower sodium diet. After 7 years, my taste buds are definitely sensitive to can make eating out difficult sometimes because I want to taste the food...not the sodium bomb they through in there. People forget what the actual food tastes like.
  • laconrad2013
    laconrad2013 Posts: 41 Member
    Amy's are the best. As for prepping your own frozen that's awesome. I bet it's way cheaper too. What do you store your meals in? Thanks!
  • shunggie
    shunggie Posts: 1,036 Member
    Like most here I do frozen dinners/lunches occasionally. I love Costco's Yakisoba noodles, Lean Cuisine Butternut Squash Ravioli, Trader Joes Won Ton Soup, etc. You do need to be mindful of sodium but there is no reason (I can see) to avoid them completely.
  • kshama2001
    kshama2001 Posts: 27,134 Member
    NewTnme wrote: »
    I wonder has anyone ever really looked into how much sodium they add to their home cooked meals🤔

    Yes, I was trying to replicate Near East's Original Rice Pilaf and wasn't able to come close to the amount of sodium they add, even with adding different forms of salt.