Frozen dinners, sometimes referred to as “tv dinners”, are pre-made and packaged meals that are frozen and can be heated up and eaten as they are, with very little preparation. With high salt and fat contents, they are not exactly known for being healthy but are rather used for convenience purposes since they are quick and easy to make. For students and people who work full-time, they can be a great cost-effective option if you’re pressed for time and lacking in cooking skills. While I find that most find them tend to be bland and tasteless, I’ve found a great selection out there of tv dinners that are more flavorful and somewhat healthy.
1. Trader Joe’s Vegan Tikka Masala
My all-time personal favorite has to be Trader Joe’s Tikka Masala. As a person of South Asian descent, I can be quite critical of South Asian food and am pretty unforgiving when it comes to the taste and spice levels, but I think this is a great option! While the frozen version can’t quite live up to a freshly prepared dish of tikka masala, Trader Joe’s tikka would definitely be up there on my list. It’s not quite as spicy as I would like it to be, but it’s packed with flavour and the rice has a nice texture to it. It’s also completely vegan so it’s a great alternative for those who don’t eat meat as the actual dish is usually prepared with some kind of meat or cheese.
2. Trader Joe’s Wheat-Free Toaster Waffles
With just 400mg of sodium for two waffles, these Trader Joe’s waffles are a great option for those of you looking for a healthier and more convenient alternative to frozen waffles. They are also wheat and gluten free for those of you who have certain dietary restrictions. Since it’s free of preservatives, it’s much healthier than other frozen foods on the market and packed with salt in order to maintain freshness. Just add some your favorite fruit and syrup to the top for a nice flavorful meal.
3. Trader Joe’s Chicken Burrito Bowl
Alright, so I don’t work for Trader Joe’s (I promise!) but I just find their frozen foods to be one of the tastier and healthier options on the market. Personally, I haven’t tried out this one in particular due to dietary restrictions, but I have heard my friends raving about it- and for what seems like good reason! Filled with ingredients like chicken breast, brown rice, quinoa and beans; the chicken burrito bowl is definitely one of the healthiest options out there and it’s only priced at $3.49 which is a steal in my book! You can top it off with some sriracha or any other hot-sauce for added spice, or just eat it as it is.
4. Amy’s Tofu Scramble
Ahh, the first non-Trader Joe’s option on the list. I first come across Amy’s Tofu Scramble while shopping at Whole Foods, which is known for having fresh, unprocessed ingredients, and I thought to myself that this is probably legit and quickly bought some to try it out. The tofu scramble is decently sized and comes with hash browns and veggies which make for the perfect breakfast meal! It’s also dairy and gluten free, and is also high in protein, making it the perfect meal for guilt-free consumption.
5. Kid Cuisine Chicken Breast Nugget Meal
Okay, I’ll admit that this one is not the healthiest option on the list but it’s definitely a classic. With a set of chicken nuggets, mac-and cheese, pudding and corn, the kid cuisine meal is the perfect comfort food for when you’re looking to reminisce about your childhood days. It’s portion size is not all that big, so don’t feel too bad about eating this every now-and then. It may not be as healthy as the other options on the list, but it definitely doesn’t lose in terms of flavor!
Frozen dinners are widely regarded as unhealthy and improper meals by many, and for good reason since most dinners are packed with salt, are highly processed, and contain a lot of preservatives in order to keep the food intact. However, with increasing awareness about ingredients and rising health concerns, some companies have taken the initiative to enhance their products in terms of nutrients and have cut down on the processing. While frozen foods are mostly eaten out of convenience since they are cheap and take little effort to prepare, its still largely unwise to substitute them for fresh-cooked meals all the time. If you do choose to eat them more often than you should, know that there are healthier options out there that are just as cost-effective and flavorful as the rest. Make sure you do your research on ingredients and salt contents and be sure to be mindful about what is in what you’re eating; your body will thank for you for it in the long run!
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