Frozen Meal Face-Off

There are portions of my life that are rather tragically predictable, such as this one: I work in an office, and therefore I eat lots of frozen meals for lunch. Having consumed so many frozen entrees over the course of countless meals, I consider myself a frozen meal expert of sorts, in fact. (I know — how very fancy.)

With that in mind, I thought I’d embark on a project to list a handful of my favorite frozen meals. After all, if you’re going to eat frozen food, it might as well be pretty tasty, right?

A few quick notes: I know that frozen meals are almost always high in sodium. True, they often aren’t hearty enough to stand alone as a complete meal. Typically, they lack the recommended amount of vegetables and/or fruit. (To help combat the last two points, I recommend packing some fresh fruit or yogurt to accompany the frozen meal.)

Moving on.

First I have to mention Trader Joe’s. I like all of the TJ’s frozen meals I’ve ever tried — particularly the Indian options. Sadly, there’s no TJ’s here in Winston-Salem (although there’s one coming sometime in 2012!), and so very few of my frozen meals these days come from there. How very tragic. (Fun fact: Since 1979, TJ’s has been owned by the family who also owns the discount grocery chain Aldi.)

Next up: Lean Cuisine. I’ve sampled several Lean Cuisine varieties, and have a few go-to favorites that I really enjoy. (Fun fact: The brand name “Lean Cuisine” is considered by the FDA as a nutrient content claim, so all Lean Cuisine items are required to meet the “lean” criteria of less than 10 grams fat, 4.5 grams or less saturated fat, and less than 95 milligrams cholesterol.)

I recommend the following:

Note: I’m not a fan of the Lean Cuisine pizza or panini options, because I feel like the crust or bread never quite gets crispy enough in the microwave.

Moving on to Healthy Choice. (Fun fact about this brand: According to ConAgra’s official corporate history, Healthy Choice was born when then-CEO Charles “Mike” Harper had a heart attack in 1985 and was inspired to create a line of healthier frozen foods.)

Give these meals try:

Note: The Healthy Choice Complete Meals aren’t my favorite.

Kashi frozen meals are so very delicious, but they’re also pricier than Lean Cuisine or Healthy Choice meals, so they don’t make it into the Keller freezer too often. If they’re ever on sale, though (or you feel like a splurge), I recommend giving the Lemongrass Coconut Chicken a try. (Fun fact about Kashi: The strange name comes from a merging of “kashruth,” or “kosher,” and “Kushi,” which is the last name of the Japanese couple who introduced the macrobiotic dietary regimen to the U.S.)

So what’s the verdict on frozen meals? Yay or nay?

Happy microwaving, everyone!

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