Even though they are not essential, they can be practical to help out in certain circumstances. Let’s see what criteria to use and some tips to improve the chosen dish.
What is wrong with commercial frozen meals?
Despite their convenience, frozen meals are often criticized for their low nutritional value. Indeed, they are generally :
|Rich in…||Poor in…|
Total fat (lipids) and saturated fat
Lack of fiber and protein makes frozen meals less filling. Additionally, portion sizes are often too small to satisfy the hunger and needs of most people.
How to choose better?
To make an informed choice, check the nutrition facts table on the product packaging or the company’s website.
- Look for meals rich in dietary fiber: prioritize those that contain at least one serving of vegetables and whole grains (whole wheat pasta, brown rice, etc.).
- Avoid fried foods (croquettes, breaded meats) and puff pastry (chicken pie, etc.) as they are high in fat.
- Pay attention to the nutritional value of pasta dishes, often low in protein and high in carbohydrates (e.g., macaroni and cheese, pasta with tomato sauce) and Asian dishes, often very salty.
- Check the amount of carbohydrates considering your meal plan, if you have one.
Tips for enhancing frozen meals
Although it’s not possible to remove the excess salt and fat present in a dish, it’s possible to add simple side dishes to make up for the missing elements and make the meal more satisfying.
To complement a frozen meal that is poor in…
Vegetables: Add a side salad, raw vegetables (cherry tomatoes, miniature carrots, cucumber slices, etc.), or cooked vegetables (e.g., leftover vegetables from the previous night’s dinner or broccoli and cauliflower florets cooked in the microwave with a little water).
Meat or meat substitutes: If the dish contains little protein, you could accompany it with nuts, a low-fat cheese, or Greek yogurt, for example.
Starch: It’s possible that the portion of starch is too small. Complete the dish with crackers, a slice of bread, or another starch choice to ensure a minimum of carbohydrates (sugars).
Finally, you could complete the meal with a fruit and a dairy product, such as a glass of milk or yogurt. Follow your meal plan as closely as possible, if you have one.
In short, there are better options than others among frozen meals, and there are also ways to supplement your meal to make it more balanced. However, these meals should remain an occasional option and should not be preferred over home-cooked meals!