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    17 Frozen Dinners That Aren't Terrible For You

    Not all frozen dinners are created equal.

    Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

    The frozen food aisle tends to get a bad rep.

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

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

    Or there shouldn't be, anyway. Because while it's true that nothing beats fresh, from-scratch meals β€” made with whole foods and quality ingredients β€” 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.

    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 β€” and fewer excess calories, sodium, and ingredients you can't pronounce.

    Our picks below were based on these guidelines:

    β€’ No more than 500 calories.

    β€’ At least 10 grams of protein. Fiber = also good.

    β€’ The fewer ingredients listed, the better β€” with an emphasis on whole foods.

    β€’ 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 β€” maybe it's fewer carbs, maybe it's a meatless version β€” will differ from person to person. Below, we've listed a range of options.

    1. Chicken & Spinach Alfredo from Healthy Choice

    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 β€” 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

    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.

    3. Chicken Penne Pomodoro from Evol

    Calories: 300

    Fat: 8 g (Saturated: 1 g)

    Sodium: 510 mg

    Carbohydrates: 42 g

    Sugar: 6 g

    Fiber: 7 g

    Protein: 19 g

    4. Santa Fe Enchilada Bowl from Amy's

    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 β€” 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 β€” 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

    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 β€” but this one has ~none~. To bump up the fiber, pair this with greens or a grab 'n' go salad.

    7. Italian Sausage Pasta Bake from Healthy Choice

    Calories: 270

    Fat: 6 g (Saturated: 2.5 g)

    Sodium: 580 mg

    Carbohydrates: 39 g

    Sugar: 6 g

    Fiber: 6 g

    Protein: 16 g

    8. Brown Rice & Vegetable Bowl from Amy's

    Calories: 260

    Fat: 9 g (Saturated: 1 g)

    Sodium: 550 g

    Carbohydrates: 36 g

    Sugars: 7 g

    Fiber: 5 g

    Protein: 9 g

    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 β€” chopped tomato, jalapeΓ±o, and lime β€” for vitamin C.

    10. Pepperoni Pizza from SmartOnes

    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 β€” 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

    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 β€” their veggie Pad Thai has 18 g; their beef bulgogi has 16 g β€” 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.

    12. Wild Salmon with Pesto, Vegetables, and Brown Rice from Artisan Bistro

    Calories: 310

    Fat: 18 g (2.5 g)

    Sodium: 370 g

    Carbohydrates: 21 g

    Sugar: 3 g

    Fiber: 3 g

    Protein: 16 g

    13. Mexican Casserole Bowl from Amy's

    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 β€” and also includes several vegan and gluten-free options.

    14. Pesto Pasta Primavera from Kashi

    Calories: 290

    Fat: 11 g (Sat: 2 g)

    Sodium: 750 g

    Carbohydrates: 37 g

    Sugar: 4 g

    Fiber: 7 g

    Protein: 11 g

    15. Fire Grilled Steak Bowl from Evol

    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 β€” 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.

    16. Savory Turkey with Vegetables and Brown Rice from Artisan Bistro

    Calories: 330

    Fat: 10 g (Sat: 1 g)

    Sodium: 450 mg

    Carbohydrates: 35 g

    Sugar: 5 g

    Fiber: 8 g

    Protein: 24 g

    17. Chicken Tandoori with Spinach from Tandoor Chef

    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 β€” to mirror the creamy spiced spinach. (Not watching carbs? Serve with rice, fiber-rich lentils, or naan.)


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