Frozen low calorie meals

Wondered if any of you buy those Smart Ones or Lean Cuisine meals? Are they bad for you? Which ones are good, if any?


  • tcunbeliever
    tcunbeliever Posts: 8,219 Member
    I like having the Jimmy Dean english muffins around for a quick, pop in the microwave, kind of meal. The croissant ones are ok, but not as tasty to me.

    The frozen steamable veggies also make a great quick meal.

    I've had some of the Lean Cuisine or Michelina's or Stouffers frozen meals and they were ok. Not something I would aim for eating on the regular, but for quick things to have around when hungry, or portable things you can grab to reheat later, they are definitely healthier than grabbing a bag of chips...and decent food, some flavors more than others...I tend to like the tomato sauce based ones and I'm generally not as satisfied with anything claiming to be alfredo, but much of that is just personal liking.
  • NovusDies
    NovusDies Posts: 8,940 Member
    There is not much that is really bad for you unless you have a specific medical reaction to it like an allergy. Frozen meals tend to be high in sodium which can be a problem for certain types of high blood pressure. If your doctor told you to watch the sodium you should probably consider a different avenue.

    What is good is subjective. I haven't tried any that I thought was fantastic and I could not wait to have it again. I also have an aversion to some reheated protein like chicken because I find it dry no matter how it is prepared.

    The big issue for me is the portion. It is simply not enough food for me so I still need to add more to it. I do not eat 3 meals a day though so my meals tend to be larger and more calories. I have eaten them but usually either with something else or I have to eat 2 at a time. I do find them a convenient resource if the meal I am preparing is delayed or ruined and I need calories from another source.

    With all that said if you think it will be an easy path for you, you should experiment with it. That is really the only way to know if it will work for you personally.
  • shunggie
    shunggie Posts: 1,036 Member
    As NovusDies said, good or bad is subjective. They tend to be low in calories and high in sodium. That being said there are a couple of Lean Cuisine pasta dishes I like. The Butternut Squash Ravioli & Tortellini with Red Pepper Sauce are good examples. I used to use either of them as a side dish with a salad and some type of protein. My roommate at the time loved them too.
  • sabrinacrandall
    sabrinacrandall Posts: 74 Member
    I like the Healthy Choice meals. They have a good mix of veggies and protein and are steamed. They also don't require intermediate stirring while cooking--pop in the microwave and they're ready in 5 ish minutes. Obviously they're going to be higher in sodium than your fresh food equivalent, and potentially sugars with the sauces. But if the meal fits your calorie and/or macro goals then it should be fine when you don't have time to cook.
  • sammidelvecchio
    sammidelvecchio Posts: 791 Member
    Michelinas makes a mac n cheese bowl that is really good. I think it's about 500 cals. Not sure what you consider low calorie :)
  • kimny72
    kimny72 Posts: 16,013 Member
    edited January 2020
    I eat a Lean Cuisine for lunch a few times per week, whenever I don't have enough lunches planned out already or some other plan falls through (which is often because I stink at meal planning :lol: ). I always mix in a serving of frozen veggies to bulk it up, and might bring a protein snack to have later in the day (string cheese, HB egg, yogurt).

    Taste is really subjective, you'll find someone who loves a flavor and someone else who hates it. I tend to get the ones that are all one undivided tray (rather than the types that have a divided tray with something in each) as I find those easier to work with.

    They will probably be higher in sodium than something you cooked yourself, but there are a variety of them now that aren't that bad. And some can actually be a little too low cal, which could leave you hangry later. I suppose if they were all you ate they probably wouldn't be the best choice, but I don't think they are all "bad" for you. Look for ones that have a decent amount of protein, make sure they are calorie appropriate to the rest of your day, and add some produce to it or on the side and I think they are a fine choice. There is only a small selection I genuinely like, so I couldn't live off of them, but they are a part of my weekly plan.
  • eb8566
    eb8566 Posts: 249 Member
    I love the Amy’s meals but they aren’t necessarily low calorie I guess. They are easy and I love the taste so it is something I will have at work when I need a quick grab a handful of times a year.
  • nighthawk584
    nighthawk584 Posts: 2,008 Member
    Marie Callander dinners are pretty good, and many are in 300 calorie range.....I also like Healthy Choice 150 calorie vegetable medley and mix it with chicken breast.
  • hereinmissouri
    hereinmissouri Posts: 11 Member
    I found the sodium content to be too high for me and they just didn't fill me up. So I bought some divided Tupperware containers and freeze leftovers into meals.
  • fuzzylop_
    fuzzylop_ Posts: 100 Member
    edited January 2020
    I usually have an amy's or sweet earth frozen meal for lunch. Sodium is a bit too high, and protein too low for my tastes...but I haven't felt like meal prepping and they'll do.

    If amy's brown rice, black eyed peas, and veggies meal had a little less brown rice and some tofu added, it'd be perfect for me.
  • MikePTY
    MikePTY Posts: 3,814 Member
    Sure, I eat a fair amount. Either frozen meals or lean/hot pockers. For me they are more snacks because they don't really fill me up. But at around 300 calories of my 2300 calorie goal, they work well for something that is not a full meal. They may be more filling for others.

    I also think that they are generally not as high in sodium as one thinks. It really depends on the meal. Sure, there can be meals that are 1000mg plus. But there are plenty that are below 600 mg or even 500mg. That's a quarter or less of your daily goal, so even if you are watching sodium I think they can be worked in.

    They are not the most nutrient dense things in the world, so I wouldn't necessarily use them for the majority of your meals. But they can absolutely be successfully used in rotation with other foods, and they are great for when you don't have a meal prepared but want something quick that will fit well within your calories.
  • RelCanonical
    RelCanonical Posts: 3,882 Member
    I'm not a big fan of Lean Cuisine or other brands that market themselves as "low calorie" but I do like frozen meals. My favorites are Marie Callendar's and Boston Market (this one might be regional). I just check the nutrition facts to make sure they're not too high in calories for my budget. My favorites are the turkey dinner ones. My store also carries LingLing Ramen Bowls which are uh-mazing and usually under 400 calories for a nice-sized bowl.
  • earlnabby
    earlnabby Posts: 8,171 Member
    creyes814 wrote: »
    Wondered if any of you buy those Smart Ones or Lean Cuisine meals? Are they bad for you? Which ones are good, if any?

    They are not bad but I prefer to have them on hand for the occasional meal rather than make them a regular part of my weekly meals. I prefer the Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers for flavor and variety. My freezer typically has some prepared meals and some leftovers from meals I make myself and I can usually go a week without cooking if circumstances make that necessary, then I stock up again next time they go on sale.

    They were a lifesaver when I moved and most of my kitchen was packed up. I had a couple in both the new and old place so I wouldn't be left without suppers.
  • cannedgoo
    cannedgoo Posts: 72 Member
    I love the HealthyChoice Power Bowls. (The steamers are also fine, but there’s a lot of packaging.) they’re reasonably low calorie and filling enough for me - but admittedly I’m sedentary and also tend to have fruit for snack at relatively regular intervals.

    The Power Bowls have all been pretty good with the exception of the mango edamame one. Calories are like 200-350ish, and fairly low sodium in the frozen dinner gang. They’re also like $3.50-$4 a piece where I live, so on the higher end of mid-priced. (Cheaper than Amy’s, more than Marie Callendar). I like them when I don’t have leftovers for lunch at work the next day - instead I just pop this into the microwave and it’s better than going to one of the fast food places by my office.
  • fdlewenstein
    fdlewenstein Posts: 231 Member
    I think in general if you can making your meals from fresh ingredients this is a positive. You can't control the ingredients when you buy prepared/frozen meals. Rather, make your own frozen meals. For example, when I make a recipe for dinner I might make a double batch. I then portion out in containers for future meal, being sure to label clearly. It really doesn't take that much effort to plan for a week of quick meals. Even if you have a busy schedule eating fresh food is possible.
  • corinasue1143
    corinasue1143 Posts: 7,467 Member
    edited January 2020
    I agree with @NovusDies about the portion size. That’s why I like to get the kind with only meat and potato or pasta, then microwave as many vegetables as you’re hungry for with the meal. Sometimes I add a whole bag of veggies to the Swedish meatballs and noodles or the veal Parmesan and spaghetti.
    I also agree with @RelCanonical that you should check out the ones not labeled as “low calorie”. Some of these will fit in your day easily and are good.
    I was eating lean pockets ham and cheese a while back, until I saw hot pockets ham and cheese had about 20 more calories and 2 grams more protein. The hot pockets were a better fit for me. (Now they’ve both changed.)
  • panda4153
    panda4153 Posts: 417 Member
    I like Lean Cuisines a lot. I have eaten them regularly for years. I add an Apple or salad on the side or sometimes a Greek yogurt but 400 calories total for lunch fits my diet nicely and fills me up.
  • lilithsrose
    lilithsrose Posts: 752 Member
    edited January 2020
    Frozen meals tend to have high sodium, but I don't think they're all that bad for you. The portions can be pretty small though. I'm kinda picky and I don't like anything with red sauce, so that removes a lot of options for me. I like these ones though:

    Lean Cuisine Four Cheese Tortellini with Pesto Sauce
    Lean Cuisine Garlic Chicken Spring Rolls
    Lean Cuisine Chicken Pecan
    Lean Cuisine Chicken Club Panini
    Indulgence Chicken Cordon Bleu Orzo
    Evol Butternut Squash Ravioli
    Evol Chicken Enchilada Bake
    Trader Joe's Butter Chicken
    Trader Joe's Vegetable Biryani
  • H_Ock12
    H_Ock12 Posts: 1,152 Member
    I love lean cuisines as an afternoon snack. 200-300 calories that are much more filling than fruit, chips, crackers, nuts, etc ...

    My favs are the spaghetti and the ravioli.
  • wilson10102018
    wilson10102018 Posts: 1,306 Member
    I just couldn't do it. I tried but they were just too awful. I decided that a couple of single ingredients like a baked potato and a salmon filet were far more satisfying.