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17 Frozen Dinners That Aren't Terrible For You

Not all frozen dinners are created equal.

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The frozen food aisle tends to get a bad rep.

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But we all end up there at some point — whether it's because we're short on time, money, kitchen motivation, and/or sheer life options.*

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(*Shoutout to the late-night frozen burrito runs that got me through college.)

But you know what? There's no shame in the freezer game.

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Or there shouldn't be, anyway. Because while it's true that nothing beats fresh, from-scratch meals — made with whole foods and quality ingredients — it's also true that that's not always an option. For those times, there ARE ways to eat well, even if you're in the frozen aisle.

Frozen meals can be fine in moderation, as long as you know what to look for.

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And if you down the pre-made stuff frequently, it's worth thinking about choosing options that are better for you: ones with more protein and fiber — and fewer excess calories, sodium, and ingredients you can't pronounce.

Our picks below were based on these guidelines:

• No more than 500 calories.

• At least 10 grams of protein. Fiber = also good.

• The fewer ingredients listed, the better — with an emphasis on whole foods.

• Little-to-no added sugar, and less than 800 mg of sodium.

*Also: There's no such thing as a perfect meal. What you're looking for most — maybe it's fewer carbs, maybe it's a meatless version — will differ from person to person. Below, we've listed a range of options.

1. Chicken & Spinach Alfredo from Healthy Choice

healthychoice.com

Calories: 220

Fat: 4.5 g (Saturated: 2 g)

Sodium: 560 mg

Carbohydrates: 28 g

Sugar: 2g

Fiber: 4 g

Protein: 17 g

Worth noting: The trick with frozen pastas are finding ones that aren't loaded with sodium and sugar — and this one is in a decent range. It's also loaded with iron. For extra fiber, pair this with a salad of fresh greens.

2. Chickpeas & Spinach (Chana Saag) with Cumin Rice from Saffron Road

saffronroadfood.com

Calories: 360

Fat: 12 g (Saturated: 1.5 g)

Sodium: 650 mg

Carbohydrates: 54 g

Fiber: 6 g

Sugar: 4 g

Protein: 10 g

Worth noting: Chana saag often gets its velvety texture thanks to a spiced marinade that includes cream or yogurt. To play on that (and to quickly add more protein), top this with an extra dollop of Greek yogurt.

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4. Santa Fe Enchilada Bowl from Amy's

amys.com

Calories: 350

Fat: 11 g (Saturated: 2 g)

Sodium: 780 mg

Carbohydrates: 47 g

Sugar: 5 g

Fiber: 9 g

Protein: 16 g

Worth noting: This is one of the higher sodium options on this list, with a range common for similar enchilada or burrito bowl-style frozen meals. But depending on your age and risk factors, the recommended daily sodium intake is between 1,500 - 2,300 mg — so you're not completely out of luck. (And: This one has a solid amount of protein, fiber, and vitamin C to make up for it.)

5. Mediterranean Thin Crust Pizza from Kashi

Calories: 290

Fat: 9 g (Saturated: 4 g)

Sodium: 640 mg

Carbohydrates: 37 g

Sugar: 3 g

Fiber: 5 g

Protein: 15 g

Worth noting: The thing to watch here is portion size — which in this case is about 2 slices. Craving a meat version? Kashi's BBQ Chicken Pizza has more protein (22.5 g) and fiber (7.5 g), but also more sodium (885 mg).

6. Slow-Roasted Turkey Breast from SmartOnes

eatyourbest.com

Calories: 210

Fat: 3.5 g (Sat: 1.5 g)

Sodium: 690 mg

Carbohydrates: 22 g

Fiber: 2 g

Sugar: 0 g

Protein: 22 g

Worth noting: Whether it's gravy, pesto, or glaze, frozen dinner sauces can be pretty sugar-laden — but this one has ~none~. To bump up the fiber, pair this with greens or a grab 'n' go salad.

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9. Braised Chicken, Sweet Potato & Quinoa Burrito from Red's

Calories: 280

Total Fat: 8 g (Saturated: 2 g)

Sodium: 660 mg

Carbohydrates: 34 g

Sugars: 1 g

Fiber: 7 g

Protein: 12 g

Worth noting: An easy way to amp the protein, fiber, and healthy fat? Serve this with fresh avocado and a side of black beans. Or add a quick homemade salsa fresca — chopped tomato, jalapeño, and lime — for vitamin C.

10. Pepperoni Pizza from SmartOnes

eatyourbest.com

Calories: 430

Total Fat: 13 g (Sat: 5 g)

Sodium: 780 mg

Carbohydrates: 57g

Fiber: 5 g

Sugar: 7g

Protein: 21 g

Worth noting: This one's on the higher end for sodium and carbs — but keep in mind that the serving size is an entire pizza; you could always divide and conquer.

11. Thai Basil Chili Tofu with Basmati Rice from Saffron Road

saffronroadfood.com

Calories: 340

Fat: 12 g (Sat: 3 g)

Sodium: 320 mg

Carbohydrates: 50 g

Fiber: 2 g

Sugar: 5 g

Protein: 10 g

Worth noting: A few of Saffron Road's other sauce-coated dishes are heavier on the sugar — their veggie Pad Thai has 18 g; their beef bulgogi has 16 g — but this one keeps it reasonable at 5. To amp up the fiber (and the nod to stir fry), mix in some edamame or carrots.

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13. Mexican Casserole Bowl from Amy's

amys.com

Calories: 380

Fat: 16 g (Saturated: 5 g)

Sodium: 780 mg

Carbohydrates: 48g

Sugar: 4g

Fiber: 8g

Protein: 12g

Worth noting: The entire Amy's line is vegetarian — and also includes several vegan and gluten-free options.

15. Fire Grilled Steak Bowl from Evol

evolfoods.com

Calories: 400

Fat: 20 g (Sat: 3.5)

Sodium: 520 mg

Carbohydrates: 38 g

Sugar: 1 g

Fiber: 9 g

Protein: 20 g

Worth noting: This is one of the higher fat options on the list — but that's not necessarily a bad thing. To balance that, you're also getting a full 20 grams of protein, and a decent amount of fiber.

17. Chicken Tandoori with Spinach from Tandoor Chef

amazon.com

Calories: 200

Fat: 13 g (Sat: 2.5 g)

Sodium: 590mg

Carbohydrates: 6 g

Sugar: 3 g

Fiber: 3 g

Protein: 15 g

Worth noting: This is the lowest carb option on this list, but a serving size is half the container. For even more protein, top off with Greek yogurt — to mirror the creamy spiced spinach. (Not watching carbs? Serve with rice, fiber-rich lentils, or naan.)

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