When you’re looking for a quick meal to nuke after a long day at the office, the freezer aisle can be your savior. However, it can be difficult to navigate your way past the fat- and sugar-laden meals—or what we dub the worst frozen foods as you age. While it’s never a safe bet to load your daily diet with non-nutritive meals, these 40 eats are especially poor choices for folks over 40 because of their harmful additives, low protein content, high sugar content and exorbitant amount of salt.
As we age, our bodies become more prone to developing a slew of diseases, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease. To help combat Mother Nature’s effects, you should nourish your body with plenty of lean proteins, complex carbs that are low in sugar and digestion-aiding fiber while avoiding excess sodium. Take extra measures as you age by avoiding the meals below and stocking up on these 40 Best Superfoods for People Over 40 instead.
Devour Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese
This loaded frozen meal features crispy chicken and creamy pasta shells smothered in buffalo cheddar sauce and blue cheese — a combo that packs in about a half day’s worth of sodium! Just because you’re watching your waistline, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy mac and cheese. Just cook a pot at home with whole-grain or legume-based noodles and quality cheese.
Smart Ones Ham and Cheese Scramble
As you age, constipation becomes more of an issue, which means you’ll have to up your daily fiber intake. And starting your day with just two grams of the digestion-aiding stuff isn’t a solid move to get things … er … moving along.
Klondike Ice Cream, Vanilla No Sugar Added
While we’re all for a low-sugar snack, we wouldn’t do much for this artificial-sweetener-spiked Klondike bar. Many studies show that aspartame, sucralose and ace-k — three sweeteners found in this frozen dessert — can actually lead to weight gain, diabetes and other health conditions.
Stouffer’s Pepperoni French Bread Pizza
Stouffer’s tops a hearty French baguette with tomato sauce, herbs, mozzarella and pepperoni. The problem? This pizza packs in loads of heart-harming sodium, inflammatory soybean oil, sodium nitrite and margarine.
Stouffer’s Kentucky Bourbon Glazed Chicken
Sweet potatoes and white meat chicken are the first two ingredients in this southern-style meal, but the fact that the meat is spiked with sugar and a honeyed sauce jam-packed with the sweet stuff is a no-no. This mix lends the meal 19 grams of sugar. That’s about the equivalent of a Snickers bar!
Kahiki General Tso’s Chicken Stirfresh Meal
We love that this Asian-inspired dish contains zero artificial colors and ingredients, but the jarring sodium and sugar counts turn us off. And get this: the nutritionals are only for a half package, so if you down the whole bag, you’ll consume over a day’s worth of sodium and sugar. Yikes!
Udi’s Gluten-Free Lemon Streusel Muffins
It’s no surprise that munching on muffins regularly can contribute to a muffin top. But this gluten-free, fiber-void option is definitely bad for your waistline. The first ingredient, dried cane syrup, contributes to the exorbitant amount of sugar in this dessert, while the brown rice flour base offers zero satiating fiber.
Lean Pockets Sausage, Egg and Cheese
It’s not the calorie count that scares us away from this Lean Pocket — it’s the disastrous false marketing. Starting your day with one gram of fiber definitely won’t keep you lean, as you’ll likely be snacking past lunchtime.
Jimmy Dean Meat Lovers Breakfast Bowl
If you’re concerned about your heart health, steer clear of this meal. This meaty breakfast bowl serves up nearly seven small packs of McDonald’s fries worth of sodium.
Hebrew National Beef Franks in a Blanket
Hebrew National managed to pack in a half gram of trans fat and 10 grams of saturated fat in a measly little snack! If you’re craving a midday nosh, reach for one of our best snacks for weight loss instead.
Celeste Vegetable Pizza for One
Topped with veggies? Check. Microwaves in minutes? Yep. So what’s not to love? This pie packs in artificial colors and tummy-widening palm oil, as well as not nearly enough fiber to justify the high carb content.
DiGiorno Traditional Crust Four Cheese
While the nutritionals for a half pie aren’t too scary, opting for a whole pizza will cost you a half-day’s worth of blood-pressure-spiking sodium.
Bertolli Shrimp Scampi and Linguine
Anything with cream sauce isn’t safe for your waistline, and this dinner-for-two is no exception. Bertolli pours on the heavy cream, lending this pasta dish a hefty dose of saturated fat, and it takes a heavy-handed approach with the salt shaker.
Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Butter Cup
We get it — everyone deserves to succumb to their sweet tooth once in a while, but this Ben and Jerry’s flavor is just way too indulgent. Spoon into a mere half cup, and you’ll ingest an entire day’s worth of added sugars!
Stouffer’s Three Cheese Ravioli with Meat Sauce
Fork into Stouffer’s Three Cheese Ravioli, and you’ll down almost three salted pretzels’ worth of salt. That spells out some bad news for belly bloat!
Blue Bunny Blu’s Birthday Party
Sure, this birthday cake scoop has about half the calories as Ben and Jerry’s Peanut Butter Cup, but it’s not any better. This sprinkle-spiked ice cream packs in titanium dioxide, an ingredient found in sunblock, as well as a slew of artificial dyes. Party’s over.
Rice Dream Organic Cocoa Marble Fudge
Here’s another scoop we’re not screaming for. Rice Dream sounds like a healthy option because it scribbles health halos such as “dairy-free” on its label, but it’s anything but. The tub contains vegetable oils to achieve its creamy consistency, yet it severely lacks in flavor.
Marie Callender’s Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
If you cook a batch of spaghetti and meatballs at home, you could be eating a satiating meal. With whole-grain noodles and lean meat (think turkey meatballs instead of beef), you could be eating your way to a slimmer waist in no time. However, this frozen meal’s frightening fat and sodium levels will give you the opposite results.
El Monterey XXL Spicy Red Hot Chimichanga
The size “Double XL” denotes a pretty monstrous meal, which is exactly what this deep-fried chimichanga is. Skip the fat-laden meal and roll up your own burrito at home with an additive-free, whole-grain tortilla, lean turkey, a sprinkle of cheese and hearty black beans.
Hungry-Man Home-Style Meatloaf
With over a thousand milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of sugar and more fat than a Big Mac, you should definitely toss this meal out of your freezer.
Walmart Great Value French Toast Sticks
These French toast sticks pack in 11 grams of sugar even before you douse ’em with maple syrup. Plus, it’s no surprise that the two measly grams of fiber won’t hold you over until lunchtime. Skip this sweet treat as an a.m. meal, and your waistline will thank you.
Jamba Strawberries Wild Smoothies
Opt for blending this frozen smoothie and you won’t get much more than empty carbs and two mini Milky Ways’ worth of sugar. That’s definitely not a smart way to snack or start your day!
Healthy Choice Café Steamers Barbecue Seasoned Steak with Red Potatoes
More like an unhealthy choice. This meat and potatoes meal will lend your belly 18 grams of sugar from multiple sources, which is why we deemed it one of the worst frozen foods as you age. If you wouldn’t eat a Snickers bar for dinner, why microwave this?
Banquet Beef Pot Pie
Banquet heavily relies on fats coming from inflammatory oils to bind the crust together and lend the beef a creamier texture. We’ll pass on that.
Johnsonville Grillers Steakhouse Onion Seasoned Patties
Sure, a patty boasts 17 grams of muscle-building protein, but is it worth the high sodium and saturated fat? We think not. If you’re buying frozen burgers, opt for grass-fed to get max nutrition in the form of slimming CLA.
Marie Callender’s Chicken & Bacon Pot Pie
Cancer-causing nitrites, caramel color and interesterified soybean oil are just some of the sketchy ingredients found in this pot pie’s ingredient list.
Lean Cuisine Sesame Chicken
This sugar-laden meal definitely won’t lean out your belly. Lean Cuisine boasts that it excludes artificial ingredients and antibiotic-treated chicken in its recipe, but it should also focus on reducing the amount of sugar in this dish.
Banquet Chicken Fried Chicken Meal
This dinner features about seven small packages of McDonald’s fries’ worth of sodium! Not only is that bad news for heart health, but the exorbitant amount of sodium can also make you look super puffy around your belly.
Healthy Choice Pineapple Chicken
Here’s another meal with not-so-bad nutritionals until you reach the sugar count. This bowl contains more sweet stuff than three Werther’s Original hard caramels! Yikes.
Chili’s Chicken Fajita Rice Bowl
If you wouldn’t step into Chili’s for a healthy meal, then why pick up this frozen fajita bowl from your local supermarket? The “bold fajita sauce” likely accounts for the majority of belly-bloating sodium in this pick.
Michelina’s Teriyaki Chicken
Anything marked “teriyaki” should be avoided if you’re worried about added sugars. Not only that, but this dish contains one tiny gram of fiber and a whopping 61 grams of carbs! Generally, you should look for a meal that boasts one gram of fiber for every 10 grams of carbs. This pick definitely doesn’t fit the bill.
Banquet Chicken Breast Patties
Chicken breast is one of our best proteins for weight loss, but this patty is one of the worst frozen foods as you age. It nixes all the nutritional benefits you’d get if you form patties from raw meat yourself. Banquet blends inflammatory oils and sodium into its protein — two ingredients you can do without.
SeaPak Maryland Style Crab Cakes
Instead of filling up on protein-packed lean crab, this appetizer will fill you out with 10 grams of fat and too much sodium. In other words, a super bad combo if you’re looking to lose weight after 40.
P.F. Chang’s Home Menu Shrimp Lo Mein
You already know what’s wrong with this dish — and if you’re unsure, just take a glance at the sodium count! To put things into perspective, that’s almost the same amount of salt as in Nissin’s Chicken Cup Noodles.
Pillsbury Toaster Strudel Strawberry
Whether you’re snacking on a toaster strudel when midday cravings strike or waking up to the sweet treat, you won’t get any satiating nutrition. The iced pastry is basically void of any filling protein and fiber.
Mrs. Paul’s Fried Clams
These fried clams are filled with kidney-harming phosphates and partially hydrogenated oils for a truly scary snack.
Van De Kamp’s Crunchy Fish Fillets
Fish fillets are essentially all protein, but adding the coveted crunch also lends it boatloads of fat, carbs and sodium. This breading packs in a slew of waist-widening ingredients, so you’re better off buying fresh fish fillets and seasoning them yourself.
Stouffer’s Classics Macaroni & Cheese
Although the first and most abundant ingredient in this meal is skim milk, there’s nothing lean about a bowl of Stouffer’s classic mac and cheese. Because it’s lacking major fiber, we suggest adding a cup of roasted or steamed veggies to the mix if you’re really craving the cheesy stuff.
Kellogg’s Eggo Blueberry Waffles
These blueberry waffles may bring you back to the good ol’ days, but they’re not gonna help you get back to your college weight.
Market Pantry Mac & Cheese Bites
Why pregame your dinner and plump your guests with these battered and fried bites? Kill your mac and cheese cravings by building a better bowl with good-for-you pasta and fiber-filled veggies.