Most of us have a frozen dinner or two stashed in the freezer for those nights we don’t feel like cooking.
Most of them get purchased according to how appetizing the photo on the box makes the contents appear, and how hungry we are when we go shopping.
Unfortunately, too many of us neglect to turn the box over and read the nutritional info on these meals.
The ugly truth is that many frozen meals are high in fat, sodium and sugar as well as preservatives. Some dinners for one contain a whole day’s worth of calories. Here are some of the worst offenders on the frozen food aisle.If you’re tempted by one of these, forget how tasty the box looks—put it back in the freezer and move on to a healthier alternative.
Stouffer’s White Meat Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken pot pie sounds like the perfect comfort food for a cold night, but reading what’s in this pie will make you feel very uncomfortable. At 1,160 calories, 1,780 mg sodium and 66 grams of fat (26 of them saturated), this chicken pot pie is a dietary disaster. If those stats aren’t bad enough, they’re for one serving when this dish claims to serve two. C’mon, you know that once you’ve popped this into the microwave, you’re going to eat the whole thing by yourself.
Marie Callender’s Creamy Parmesan Chicken Pot Pie
There seems to be something about chicken pot pies that brings out the worst in food companies. Practically every one in the freezer case is a fat-laden, sodium drenched mess. This one from Marie Callender’s has 1,060 calories, 1,440 mg of sodium and 64 grams of fat, 24 saturated. Worst of all, that’s for half of the package. The only good thing you can say about this pie is that it’s not quite as bad as the one from Stouffer’s.
Boston Market Chicken Pot Pie
Is there such a thing as a frozen pot pie that’s not full of fat and salt? Apparently not, but this one from Boston Market may be the lesser of the three evils. This pot pie packs 800 calories, 49 grams of fat, 18 saturated and 910 mg sodium. Just because it’s not as unhealthy as the pies from Stouffer’s and Marie Callender’s doesn’t mean it’s good for you.
Jimmy Dean Pancake and Sausage Breakfast Bowl
We’ve all been hearing since we were kids that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that may be true if you stick to healthy items like oatmeal, juice and lean dairy products, but too many of us wake up ravenous and dig into something like this bloated breakfast bowl. With 710 calories, 890 mg sodium, 34 g sugar and 31 grams of fat (11 G saturated) this is a big bowl of trouble. Eat this and you start the day with too much of everything that’s bad for you, like refined carbs, saturated fat and sugar.
DiGiorno for One Supreme Pizza with Garlic Bread Crust
Pizza for one sounds like a good idea in theory, since there won’t be an entire ginormous pizza there to tempt you after you’ve had one serving. However, in this case, you might be better off with a larger pizza that’s heavy on the veggies but lighter on the meats. This carb-heavy crust covered in greasy toppings packs 840 calories, 44 grams of fat (16 g saturated) and 1,450 mg sodium. This “one serving” serves up 80% of your daily dose of saturated fat and 60% of your quota of sodium.
Stouffer’s Salisbury Steak Dinner
Another not-so-comfortable “comfort food,” this gravy-covered entrée contains 710 calories, 1,674 grams of sodium, 16 grams of saturated fat and 48 grams of carbohydrates. Most frozen dinners at least pretend to be balanced by tossing in a handful of limp broccoli, but this one is just a fatty beef patty covered in gravy with a side of mac and cheese. Not only is it bad for you, it’s not very filling.
Healthy Choice Complete Selections Sweet & Sour Chicken
The only thing “healthy” about this dish is that it’s not quite as deadly as some of the others mentioned here. While the calorie count is OK at 430, the rest of the stats are not so healthy, like 9 grams of fat, 600 mg sodium and 29 grams of sugar. That’s about the amount of sugar you’d get in two scoops of premium ice cream.
Bertolli Grilled Chicken Alfredo & Fettuccine Complete Skillet Meal for Two
OK, this Bertolli stir-fry sounds yummy good and creamy, but when you read the stats, you just might lose your appetite. Half of the package contains 710 calories, 1,370 mg sodium and 42 grams of fat, 22 of them saturated. That’s almost half of your daily allotment of calories plus twice a day’s worth of saturated fat and way more sodium than you need.
Boston Market Buffalo-Style Chicken Strips with Macaroni and Cheese
Showing yet again that the makers of frozen food keep finding ways to make chicken more fattening and less nutritious, this salty entrée weighs in at 680 calories, 31 grams of fat and 1,500 mg of sodium. Note that there’s nary a green vegetable to be found in this mega-dinner.
Swanson’s Hungry Man line of dinners deserves its own place of dishonor in this list of the least healthy frozen dinners. Here are four of the worst offenders.
Keep reading to see just how unhealthy these frozen meals are.
The whole premise of the Hungry Man brand is a big pile of food for your money, and this one delivers. While the 410 calories are acceptable, the killer here is the whopping 1,720 mg of sodium—more than you should be ingesting in an entire day. There are also 15 grams of fat, 8.2 of them saturated.
Hungry-Man Boneless Fried Chicken With Mashed Potatoes
Another man-sized entrée, this frozen dinner offers up a pair of fried chicken patties with mashed potatoes, corn and a brownie. Not surprisingly, this one weighs in at an unhealthy 860 calories (352 from fat), 39 grams of fat and 1,350 grams of sodium. That’s way too much fat and sodium for one meal—or one whole day.
Hungry Man Classic Fried Chicken
The makers of Hungry Man dinners seem to presume that their buyers aren’t just hungry, they haven’t eaten in days. Fried chicken is never really healthy, and this entrée also includes sides of mashed potatoes and corn, plus a brownie. You may not have room for dessert after putting away 960 calories, 45 grams of fat and a staggering 2,869 mg of sodium.
Hungry Man Sports Grill Popcorn Fish and Chips
Why do the makers of frozen foods take healthy proteins like fish and drown them in batter and grease? To make this entrée even less healthy, the fried fish is topped with cheese sauce. The resulting stats are 880 calories, 48 grams of fat and 2,640 mg of sodium.
The lesson to learn from the bitter truth lurking inside the pretty boxes of frozen dinners is to always turn the box over and read the nutritional information before tossing it into your cart. There are healthier alternatives in the freezer if you look for them.
|Written on 9/10/2013 by Linda Cauthen.|