The 6 Worst Frozen Dinners To Stay Away From Right Now
Isn't it great to pop a frozen dinner in the microwave or oven for a few minutes and not have anything to clean up? Is your frozen dinner on this list of the worst ones?
We consulted two registered dietitians to help find the absolute worst frozen dinners you should stay away from right now. The experts are Amy Shapiro, Registered dietitian and founder of Real Nutrition, a nutrition company in NYC, and Molly Hembree, registered dietitian and Kroger dietitian. Both are members of the Eat This, Not That! Medical Expert Board.
While some frozen dinners may be nutritious, many are still processed meals with little to no nutrition or are so loaded with some not-so-good ingredients that it's just not worth it. Here they are and why these RDs made their choices.
Banquet Mega Bowls Chicken Fried Beef Steak Frozen Dinner
PER MEAL: 540 calories, 33 g fat (11 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 1510 mg sodium, 45 g carbs (4 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 16 g protein
The sodium is what caught Hembree's attention with this frozen dinner. "This comes in at an astonishing 1510mg sodium, which actually exceeds most dietitians' daily sodium recommendations if you have kidney or heart health issues," she says.
The ideal daily limit of sodium is 1500 milligrams or less, according to the American Heart Association. One Banquet Mega Bowl Chicken Fried Steak frozen dinner puts you over that limit. Reducing your sodium intake can improve heart and blood pressure health.
Shapiro also chose this meal as one of the worst.
"Just like the other meals this one contains multiple preservatives which have been shown to be carcinogenic in the body, excess sodium, inflammatory oils, and processed ingredients," she notes.
"It is also high in saturated fat coming in at 55% of our daily value. But this has .5 g of trans fats which have been shown to increase bad cholesterol and decrease good cholesterol," she adds. "Trans fats have been mostly banned in the US so having it in this meal is truly an unhealthy marker."
Banquet Mega Bowls Frozen Dynamite Penne & Meatballs
PER MEAL: 590 calories, 27 g fat (9 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 1150 mg sodium, 61 g carbs (5 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 24 g protein
The second one on our list of frozen dinners to skip is another from Banquet. "This meal not only contains more sodium than you need in a day. It also has limited fiber, processed ingredients, and and mechanically separated chicken which means you are getting not just chicken but tendons, veins, bones, and other things you don't realize you are eating," Shapiro says.
She adds there are "inflammatory oils, processed soy, preservatives and multiple gums making this an unhealthy choice for anyone to select."
Fiber is an essential part of your daily diet. According to the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, the daily amount of fiber is 22 to 34 grams a day, depending on your age and sex.
Hungry-Man Boneless Fried Chicken Frozen Meal
PER MEAL: 820 calories, 39 g fat (12 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 1130 mg sodium, 86 g carbs (5 g fiber, 22 g sugar), 32 g protein
The high calories are a red flag in this Hungry-Man frozen dinner. Shapiro points out that she recommends frozen meals under 600 calories.
"It also contains almost an entire day's worth of sodium in one serving. Finally, there are multiple preservatives including BHT and MSG which can affect your overall health as well as gums, processed forms of soy, mechanically separated chicken, and excess fat per serving in this meal," she says.
Devour Frozen Chicken Cordon Bleu Mac & Cheese
PER MEAL: 480 calories, 23 g fat (10 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 1120 mg sodium, 34 g carbs (2 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 36 g protein
It may not be a surprise that a chicken cordon bleu meal with mac and cheese isn't a good option, but what is it that makes it unhealthy?
"With 10 grams of saturated fat in just one meal, this product, if eaten regularly, could increase risk for many chronic diseases," Hembree states.
The American Heart Association recommends a limit of about 13 grams of saturated fat each day, depending on your total daily calorie need. This meal brings you extremely close to that limit, not leaving much room for other meals and snacks with even a little saturated fat.
Sukhi's Frozen Chicken Tikka Masala Naanwich
PER one container: 300 calories, 8 g fat (2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 610 mg sodium, 43 g carbs (1 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 17 g protein
This is another frozen dinner that is not one experts recommend.
"This product has a measly 1 gram fiber per package. A product like this I would expect to have at least 3 grams of fiber and would have liked to see at least a full vegetable serving in the sandwich filling," Hembree says.
Michelina's Fettuccine Alfredo Frozen Meal
PER MEAL: 250 calories, 8 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 690 mg sodium, 37 g carbs (2 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 8 g protein
How many times have you eaten something that you thought was good for you, only to learn later that it wasn't? This cheap frozen dinner might look deceiving.
"I am selecting this one because it seems innocent at about 250 calories and it is vegetarian friendly however it is full of chemicals, artificial flavors, preservatives including BHT and BHA (banned in other countries) and it is white flour without much fiber which means it will not hold you over for very long and soon enough you'll be finding yourself eating again," says Shapiro.
No one wants to be hungry too soon after a meal.