For anyone who has ever been tight on time, too tired to cook, or not up to par on how to work a real live skillet on a stove, freezer food can be a lifesaver. But if you're choosing the wrong boxes and bags of pre-made frozen meals from that chilly grocery aisle, you could be actually making yourself sick, fat, and even hungrier. Steer clear of these products that the experts at Eat This, Not That! have identified as icky options and keep the improvement going by then discovering these 37 Worst Breakfast Habits for Weight Loss!
Bob Evans Sausage, Egg & Cheese Burrito
1 burrito: 350 calories, 21 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 810 mg sodium, 28 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 13 g protein
Don't let the picture of the barn on the box fool you; these burritos are far from "farm fresh." Not only do they pack 40 percent of the day's saturated fat (much of which comes from hydrogenated palm oil), they bring next to nothing to table in terms of nutrition.
Kellogg's Special K Flatbread Sandwich Sausage Egg & Cheese
1 sandwich: 220 calories, 12 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 700 mg sodium, 19 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 14 g protein
When you think of breakfast, do you think of corn syrup solids, soybean oil, xanthan gum, calcium sulfate, processed cheddar cheese product, and ascorbic acid? No? Well, those are just a few of the tough-to-swallow ingredients you'll get with this meal. Top it off with some sky-high sodium counts and you've got the makings of one of the worst breakfast sandwiches in the freezer section.
Hot Pockets Sausage Egg & Cheese
1 sandwich: 320 calories, 17 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 370 mg sodium, 34 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 10 g protein
As nostalgic as many of us are for hot pockets, your days of noshing on these neatly-packed meals should be dead. Approximately 140 of these calories are from simple carbs (translation: nutrient-stripped), thanks to the croissant crust—which is not how you want to start your day.
Kellogg's Eggo Blueberry Waffles
2 waffles: 180 calories, 6 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 370 mg sodium, 29 g carbs, < 1 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 4 g protein
Despite the title, blueberries don't make an appearance in the recipe until the 12th ingredient—and even then, they're colored with the assistance of Blue 2 and Red 40. (To learn about more potentially harmful ingredients that could be lurking in your food, don't miss our special report The 23 Worst Food Additives in America.) If you're a fan of blueberry waffles, pick up the Kashi option, in which you get way more blueberries, way fewer chemicals, and more fiber, too.
Jimmy Dean Original Pancakes & Sausage on a Stick
1 each: 230 calories, 12 g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 480 mg sodium, 22 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 6 g protein
None of these nutrition stats are too outrageous, but eating this sausage-wrapped-in-a-pancake exposes you to countless harmful ingredients—ranging from caramel color to BHT (which are both possible carcinogens). Plus, there's nothing on this stick that will keep your body full and satisfied, so you'll probably be hungry again as soon as you plunk down at your desk.
El Monterey Signature Egg, Sausage, Cheese & Potato Burrito
1 burrito: 270 calories, 12 g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 550 mg sodium, 30 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 11 g protein
Given how easy it is to make your own version of an egg/sausage/cheese/potato breakfast, we're not sure why anyone would gobble this down; the majority of this burrito is filled with various sources of fat and dough conditioners. Yuck!
WalMart Great Value French Toast Sticks
5 sticks: 320 calories, 15 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 370 mg sodium, 43 g carbs, 43 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 11 g sugar, 5 g protein
Considering other brands pack 50 percent fewer calories into each stick, there's really no reason to snag this store-brand imposter. Speaking of French toast, don't miss our report on the 18 Most Popular French Toast Restaurant Dishes in America—Ranked!
Jamba Strawberries Wild Smoothies
4 oz: 60 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 20 mg sodium, 15 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 11 g sugar, 2 g protein
Anyone who's ever made a smoothie knows that the drinks are sweet enough without adding any sugar or stevia to the mix. But apparently, Jamba Juice didn't get the message. You're better off making a drink from scratch using unsweetened frozen produce like berries, pineapple, and spinach. This way you have total control over what winds up in your cup.
Amy's Breakfast Scramble
1 entrée: 360 calories, 20 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 780 mg sodium, 27 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 18 g protein
Amy's makes far better products than this one, but we had to warn you about it: The amount of salt in this scramble rivals what you'd find at the bottom of the ocean.
Aunt Jemima Scrambled Eggs and Bacon
1 package: 250 calories, 15 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 870 mg sodium, 17 g carbs, 2 g fiber, < 1 g sugar, 11 g protein
This high-salt dish is made with subpar ingredients like "scrambled egg product," "butter flavor," and "smoke flavorings," all of which pretty much make this breakfast the opposite of appetizing.
Pillsbury Toaster Strudel Strawberry
1 pastry with icing: 180 calories, 7 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 180 mg sodium, 27 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 3 g protein
Not only are these pastries void of any nutrients your body needs to fuel the day, they're spiked with high fructose corn syrup and soybean oil, a fat that's been connected to super-fast weight gain. Not to mention, as a general rule of thumb, you should never buy a breakfast food that proudly advertises that it has "30 percent more icing."
Jimmy Dean Bacon & Veggies Stuffed Hash Browns
1 piece: 240 calories, 11 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 720 mg sodium, 25 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 10 g protein
This product has one of the longest lists of ingredients we've ever seen on a heat-and-eat dish—and only a handful of them don't raise an eyebrow. Steer clear!
Lunches and Dinners
Fast Fixin' Chicken Nuggets
4 pieces: 180 calories, 11 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 510 mg sodium, 13 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 9 g protein
With added fat, three kinds of sugar, and a slew of ingredients we don't love ranging from soy protein concentrate to a caramel coloring additive typically found in soda, this is one nugget you should just never eat.
Tombstone Original Pepperoni
1/4 pizza: 390 calories, 20 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 880 mg sodium, 37 g carbs (4 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 18 g protein
Along with containing two, pesticide-ridden, genetically-modified oils (corn and soybean), this pizza adds nitrates and other dangerous preservatives to their pepperoni: namely BHA and BHT. Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) and Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) are both already banned in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and much of Europe because they are thought to be carcinogenic. Yikes!
Hungry-Man Selects Classic Fried Chicken
1 meal: 940 calories, 56 g fat, 12 g saturated fat, 1,370 mg sodium, 58 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 14 g sugar, 39 g protein
Fried chicken isn't exactly a good start, but try to swallow this fact: This meal has nearly as many calories as five orders of McNuggets! To make matters worse, Hungry-Man manages to squeeze a whopping 57 percent of the day's sodium and 86 percent of the day's fat into one tiny box. Do your arteries a favor and just say no to this blood pressure-raising meal. And for even more foods that will mess with your ticker, be sure to read up on these 30 Worst Foods For Your Heart.
Mrs. Paul's Parmesan and Roasted Garlic Tilapia
1 fillet: 280 calories, 10 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 650 mg sodium, 26 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 20 g protein
Other than the 650 milligrams of sodium for a measly frozen fish fillet, the nutritional info doesn't look so alarming. And we'll admit that parmesan and garlic sound delicious. But we do have an issue with tilapia in general—tilapia is one of the worst fish choices out there, after all—and the ridiculously long ingredient list for this product, which includes everything from soybean oil to guar gum to sugar. If you can't kick your tilapia habit, just throw it in a pan with a little olive oil and minced garlic; sprinkle with parmesan when done, and you'll have a much fresher dish than this one.
Marie Callender's Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
1 meal: 530 calories, 15 g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 1,000 mg sodium, 76 g carbs, 7 g fiber, 12 g sugar, 22 g protein
You might think that you're sitting down to a steaming hot bowl of hearty pasta, but let's be real: The fact is that you're actually enjoying a plastic container overflowing with little more than nutrient-void carbs, salt, and fat. Since spaghetti and garlic bread are easy (and cheap!) to make yourself, this meals' extra baggage isn't worth it.
Chili's Chicken Fajita Bowl
1 bowl: 370 calories, 10 g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 960 mg sodium, 51 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 20 g protein
Made with more rice than chicken, there's nothing fun about this salty fiesta in a bowl. Plus, there are plenty of better options in the freezer aisle if you're craving Mexican. We like Newman's Own Complete Chicken Fajita Skillet Meal for Two (310 calories, 660 mg sodium) and Evol's Chicken Enchiladas (410 calories, 610 mg sodium). Check out our guide to Eat This, Not That! for Mexican Lovers for more way to intelligently indulge your cravings.
Digiorno Small-Sized, Four-Cheese Traditional
1 pizza: 710 calories, 29 g fat (14 g saturated fat), 1,190 mg sodium, 88 g carbs (4 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 25 g protein
If you're going to market a pizza as being "personal sized," you can't fault us for providing nutritional information for the whole pie—even though Digiorno deceptively calls the serving size half a pie. It's one of the reasons they're on our list of 14 Sneaky Types of Food With Bogus Serving Sizes.
Marie Callender's Cheesy Chicken & Bacon Pot Pie
1 pie: 1,040 calories, 62 g fat, 26 g saturated fat, 1,480 mg sodium, 86 g carbs, 8 g fiber,14 g sugar, 34 g protein
Marie claims that her pot pies serve up the "comforting warmth and flavors of homemade goodness," but she fails to mention that they also serve up an entire day's worth of fat and a half day's worth of calories and salt. Sure, she may argue that her pies are meant to be split, but we all know that no one has ever thought of a personal-sized pie as something to share. Pass.
Banquet Meatloaf Meal
1 meal: 330 calories, 11 g fat, 1,350 mg sodium, 43 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 11 g sugar, 13 g protein
When your mom made meatloaf, do you think she added caramel color, high fructose corn syrup, BHT, or monosodium glutamate? She didn't. So, we're not sure why Banquet feels the needs to toss these questionable ingredients and chemicals into their dish. What we do know, however, is that anything with an ingredient list as long as this product is better left out of your shopping cart—and out of your tummy. Check out these other 17 Surprising Foods That Contain Chemicals & Food Dyes for more must-know info.
Healthy Choice Sweet & Sour Chicken
1 meal: 350 calories, 3.5 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 590 mg sodium, 68 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 22 g sugar, 12 g protein
It may be marketed as a "healthy choice," but this Chinese-inspired meal has more sugar than a pack of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups! And if you're going to spend an entire day's worth of sugar, wouldn't you rather indulge in something that's actually sweet? We know we would.
California Pizza Kitchen Crispy Thin Crust BBQ Chicken
1/3 pizza: 300 calories, 11 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 640 mg sodium, 35 g carbs (1 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 16 g protein
CPK has actually compiled the longest ingredient list of all the frozen pizzas on the market. Among the 50+ items is caramel color, an ingredient known to be contaminated by carcinogens.
Stouffer's Monterey Chicken
1 meal: 530 calories, 21 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 1,300 mg sodium, 54 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 19 g sugar, 31 g protein
It may be a solid source of protein, but don't let that fool you. This microwave meal is a giant fat and salt mine waiting to ruin your flat belly progress. Not to mention, it carries nearly an entire day's worth of sugar.
Red Baron Classic Crust 4 Cheese
1/4 pizza: 390 calories, 17 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 750 mg sodium, 42 g carbs (2 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 16 g protein
If we were to ask you to guess the ingredients in pizza, you'd probably say cheese, tomatoes, and a wheat-yeast crust. We'd bet you wouldn't guess "L-Cysteine hydrochloride" (a salt used to treat overdoses) and "ammonium sulfate" (a commonly-used lawn fertilizer), which are two ingredients found in this franken-pizza. Oh, and did we mention the calorie, fat, and sodium contents are some of the highest on the market, too?
Hungry-Man Home-Style Meatloaf
1 meal: 660 calories, 32 g fat, 10 g saturated fat, 1,440 mg sodium, 64 g carbohydrates, 6g fiber, 22 g protein
Word of advice: Purge Hungry-Man from your freezer for good. This is consistently the worst brand in the frozen-foods aisle. This meal, in particular, has 60 percent of the day's salt (which is more than what you'd find in three bags of pretzels) and a mile-long list of ingredients. With all the wholesome options in the freezer aisle these days, there's no point in bringing this box home.
Glutino GF Duo Cheese
*1 pizza: 410 calories, 19 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 660 mg sodium, 48 g carbs (3 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 12 g protein
Don't let the "gluten-free" health halo fool you; Glutino's pies are consistently high in calories and fat. For more on which gluten-free products to buy, don't miss our exclusive report on the 40 Best and Worst Gluten-Free Food Products!
P.F. Chang's Home Menu Orange Chicken
*1/2 bag: 430 calories, 18 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 930 mg sodium, 23 g protein
Ch-Chang! Half this bag—which is the recommended portion size—has a whopping 930 milligrams of sodium, which is nearly a half a day's worth. Whenever something comes with a glaze or sticky sauce, you should hear a little warning bell because it's often a sign you're about to get loads more sugar and salt than you think.
Weaver Chicken Breast Dinosaur Fun Nuggets
4 pieces: 210 calories, 12 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 560 mg sodium, 14 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 11 g protein
Your kiddos may love the dinosaur shapes, but these fun nuggets are full of fat and sodium that won't do your offspring any favors. They are also made with an ingredient that contains MSG, but goes by a different name to cover it up: textured soy protein.
Stouffer's Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo
1 meal: 570 calories, 27 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 850 mg sodium, 55 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 26 g protein
Traditionally, alfredo sauce contains any of the following: oil, butter, cheese, cream, and egg yolk. But Stouffer's take on the Italian classic relies on cheap soybean oils, cheese, milk, and all sorts of other hard-to-pronounce ingredients. No matter how you make it, though, it's still a heart attack in a dish. With 42 percent of the day's fat and 34 percent of the daily recommended intake of saturated fat, this frozen feast is a definite Not That! For even more bad choices to avoid, check out these 40 Habits That Make You Sick and Fat.