Frozen Food Cheyenne WY
By Sarah Schmidt
Say the words “TV dinner,” and the image that pops into most people’s minds is bleak—a sad little patty of mystery meat sitting in a puddle of gelatinous gravy, along with a bland lump of mashed potatoes and a tiny serving of peas and carrots. It’s hardly something one associates with a healthy lifestyle. But the humble frozen meal has come a long way since it was introduced in 1953. Many of today’s offerings sound like something from a trendy restaurant, with options running the ethnic gamut. Even the traditional meat-and-potatoes meals are tasting pretty darned good these days.
Almost everyone agrees they’re convenient. And the more adventuresome selections are offering much more in the way of taste. But are these prepackaged meals as healthy as homemade? That depends on what they’re promising—the Hungry Man’s special, after all, is only offering to fill you up. Fortunately, many of those that promise to give you healthy choices really do.
The marketplace is filled with frozen-food options that are, for example, low in saturated fat and offer vegetables. In addition, vegetarian and vegan dinners are becoming more widely available each year. “There are many good natural, healthful options out there these days, and a lot of them taste great,” says Abby Aronowitz, a psychologist, nutritionist and author of Your Final Diet (Single Star Press, 2003). Many brands also are Department of Agriculture certified organic or use mostly organic ingredients.
However, keep in mind that even some of the natural options tend to use a lot of salt, so take a good look at the sodium content on the label before you buy.
And keep a close eye on portion sizes. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows anything larger than 5 ounces to be considered one portion. As a result, a lot of packages that appear to be a single portion are really considered two portions on the label. This means you’ll have to double sodium and fat levels listed on the package when calculating your intake. One good way to combat the problem—and also help make some of the smaller dinners more substantial—is to add some fresh or frozen vegetables to increase the bulk of your meal without adding empty calories or salt.
“Most of the dinners, like pasta and Asian noodles, already come with plenty of sauce and lots of flavor, so adding veggies makes sense anyway,” Aronowitz says. And of course having a green salad or carrot sticks on the side won’t hurt either.
Something else to watch for in frozen dinners: preservatives and artificial colors. In fact, the word “natural” in the product’s name has no official FDA designation, so you’ll want to take a close look at the ingredients list. (If you run across an ingredient you’d like to check out, the Center for Science in the Public Interest posts a glossary of food ingredients with safety ratings at www.cspinet.org .)
For many people, the main caveat to relying heavily on frozen entrees is cost. Each can run $3 to $5, w...
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