The Worst Frozen Foods in America
You head to the frozen food section of your local grocery store with your meal prep plan in mind. You plan to grab some frozen kale for a dinner side and frozen berries for your post-workout shake. You emerge 20 minutes later with frozen pizzas and ice cream. Hey, it happens! But not all of these foods are as innocent as they seem at first glance.
So before you take your next trip down the aisle, make sure you're armed with the best information. Here, we rounded up the worst frozen foods available so you know exactly what not to buy. And if you feel a little frustrated by this list, fear not—these best frozen foods in America can be the saviors you're looking for! Along with any of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
Jamba Juice at Home Smoothies, Mango-a-go-go-go
You might think you're making a waistline-friendly decision by picking up pre-made smoothie packs, but you could be sabotaging your weight-loss efforts. "Many prepared smoothie packs use yogurt made with added sugars and colorings," says nutritionist Kayleen St. John, RD, at New York City's Natural Gourmet Institute. "Sometimes the fruit itself is even sweetened with added sugar."
Instead, you can easily whip up something like this yourself. St. John suggests buying unsweetened frozen fruit chunks and blending them into smoothies with plain yogurt, green tea, or almond milk. For added convenience, freeze unsweetened coconut milk in ice cube trays the night before, so you can just toss them into your blender for an icy, refreshing drink.
Bob Evans' Sausage & Potatoes Bowl
This bowl has pork sausage, potatoes, egg, and cheese that together, make for a dish that is way too high in sodium.
Lean Pockets Sausage, Egg & Cheese
If you're looking to stay satiated, starting your morning with one measly gram of fiber isn't the way to go.
Pillsbury Apple Toaster Strudel
This toaster snack doesn't have nearly enough protein and fiber to help you start the day. And all that sugar? Yikes.
Kellogg's Eggo Nutri-Grain Whole Wheat Waffles
There are better fiber-rich waffles to be had.
White Castle Frozen Breakfast Sliders
White Castle for breakfast? Well, slow down for a second. The issue here is that one pack comes with two sliders, and they are so small, so it makes sense to eat both. That puts you at more than 1,000 milligrams of sodium at your first meal of the day! According to an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, the average frozen meal actually contains 935 milligrams of sodium, which is equivalent to 40% of your daily recommended intake. Big yikes.
If you can eat just one of these and perhaps munch on some fresh fruit along with the one slider, you'll be in much better shape.
Kellogg's Eggo Blueberry Waffles
Real blueberries are the 15th ingredient on the list…enough said!
Jimmy Dean Meat Lovers Breakfast Bowl
Start your day with this meat-packed breakfast and you'll more than half a day's worth of belly-bloating sodium.
Great Value Parma Melt Breakfast Sandwich
This is another breakfast sandwich you're going to want to leave in the freezer aisle. It's more than 500 calories and packing more than 1,100 milligrams of sodium. You're much better off making a breakfast sandwich yourself!
Hot Pockets Applewood Bacon, Egg & Cheese
With this sandwich, you're starting your day with (read: nutrient-stripped) carbs in the form of a croissant crust, and with only one gram of fiber, you're going to be hungry not too long after you're done eating this.
Jimmy Dean Southern Style Chicken Biscuit Sandwich
Again, the amount of sodium you're getting in one small sandwich just isn't worth it.
Amy's Mexican Breakfast Bake
This bowl features potatoes, refried black beans, and a tofu scramble. Sounds like a winning combination, but the fat and sodium counts say otherwise.
Great Value Monte Carlo Breakfast Sandwich
This sandwich sounds like something you would get in a restaurant: bacon, cheese, and strawberry jam between cinnamon French toast slices. But the sodium content alone is just excessive.
FROZEN SIDES, SNACKS, AND APPETIZERS
Tyson Batter Dipped Chicken Breast Tenders
You know they're not kale smoothies, just how bad could they be? Pretty bad. Though often presented as "all natural" and "gluten-free," don't be fooled. "Many varieties of this breaded and fried food contain fat," says Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND award-winning nutrition expert and Wall Street Journal best-selling author of The Create-Your-Plate Diabetes Cookbook. "They tend to be high in calories, filled with preservatives and artificial fillers."
Instead, make your own!
"You can make your own baked nuggets using a touch of honey and whole wheat panko breadcrumbs, which keeps those nuggets nice and crunchy," offers Amidor.
Tyson Any'tizers Honey BBQ Boneless Chicken Bites
Why would you want to pregame your meal with seven types of sugars and an absurd amount of preservatives?
Market Pantry Mac & Cheese Bites
If cheese is what you crave, there are far less fatty and starchy ways to get your fix.
Ore-Ida Tater Tots
Hoping these are better than the drive-thru's version? Probably not. "Potatoes are a healthy vegetable, but the way they're processed they end up being high in calories, salt, and fat," says Amidor.
"Many people think since they will cook at home without a fryer, they won't be 'fried.' However, these products are already pre-fried, drenched in oil, then frozen to preserve them," says nutritionist Lisa Hayim, MS, RD. Sounds like a disaster in disguise!
Ore-Ida Sweet Potato Straight Fries
Sweet potato has more fiber than russet potatoes, but once the food industry starts plowing fat into the produce, all bets are off. You can reap the benefits of potatoes by roasting slices in the oven with a touch of olive oil and salt and pepper.
"You can also make your own baked sweet potato fries, which taste darn delicious," says Amidor.
Hebrew National Beef Franks in a Blanket
If you're watching your waistline, you shouldn't consume this much trans fat in an entire day—let alone from a snack.
TGI Fridays Frozen Appetizers Buffalo Style Chicken Wings
The Buffalo-style TGI Fridays wings are yet another high-sodium option. The chain offers up plenty of other frozen options, so maybe go with the spinach artichoke dip instead?
Trader Joe's Mac and Cheese Bites
It's always a better option to just eat mac and cheese minus the breadcrumbs!
Totino's Pepperoni & Bacon Pizza Rolls
Eating bacon and pepperoni together is already a recipe for disaster but the problem with Totino's is that they're so small. It's very easy to eat a lot of these quickly, and with the high sodium count, that's not something you want to do.
Market Pantry Cream Cheese Stuffed Jalapeño Poppers
"Crispy breading" is a phrase you'll want to keep an eye on, as, yes, it just means that these jalapeños—that are stuffed with cream cheese, no less—are fried. No thanks!
SeaPak Budweiser Beer Battered Crab Poppers
Crab, cheese, and jalapeño peppers are fried in a crunchy beer batter to create these little bites. The problem with these is that it's always easy to eat quite a few bite-sized treats like this, and soon enough, you'll be consuming more than half of your daily sodium.
Ore-Ida Onion Ringers
Fries are almost always the better choice.
Celeste Pizza for One, Vegetable
Don't let the veggie-packed topping fool you—this pie is packed with artificial colors and fattening palm oil.
Michelina's Pizza Snack Rolls
Nitrites and soybean oil, but not much good stuff.
Stouffer's Sausage & Pepperoni French Bread Pizza
One pizza contains more saturated fat than 6 Burger King Chicken Strips.
DiGiorno Traditional Crust Four Cheese
Opt for the whole pie and you'll consume about a half day's worth of sodium and added sugars.
Red Baron Thin & Crispy Pepperoni Pizza
Even the Baron's thin crust pies are swamped with salt and sugar.
Tombstone Original Supreme Pizza
Indulge in an extra slice and you'll be ingesting nearly 600 calories and a scary 24 grams of fat coming from sodium-stuffed processed meats. Yikes!
DiGiorno Bacon Me Crazy Bizza
The fat and sodium in this pie are way too high! Even if you are splitting this pizza, one serving alone is nearly 1,000 milligrams of the salty stuff.
Red Baron Classic Crust Four Cheese Pizza
Don't be fooled and think that because this pizza isn't topped with pepperoni or bacon that it's any better of an option. Again, the calories and sodium are excessive.
California Pizza Kitchen BBQ Chicken Pizza
The upside here is that the chicken is grilled, but there are quite a few different sugars listed on the ingredients, not something you ideally are looking for when you think of a pizza pie.
Screamin Sicilian Mother of Meat Pizza
And here we have yet another meat-rich pizza that is just super high in calories, fat, and sodium. Stay away!
Red Baron Deep Dish Mini Pepperoni Pizzas
You might think choosing the mini-sized option from Red Baron isn't as bad, but that's just not the cast. One serving is four pizzas, so it's very easy to just eat all eight in one sitting, which will cost you 2,200 milligrams of sodium.
FROZEN PASTA ENTREES
Bertolli Shrimp Scampi & Linguine
Bertolli takes a heavy-handed approach with sauce, as demonstrated by the exorbitant glut of saturated fat in this dish.
Marie Callender's Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
This is as good as the pasta you'd find at a Marie Callender's restaurant. Unfortunately, it's also as caloric.
Stouffer's Three Cheese Ravioli with Meat Sauce
If you're craving cheese-stuffed pasta, save 885 milligrams of sodium and 7 grams of fat with 365 Everyday Value's Organic Four Cheese Ravioli.
Michelina's Tuscan-Inspired Garlic Chicken
The nutrition panel doesn't look too bad, but this Italian chicken dish's ridiculously long ingredient list may scare you away.
Smart Ones Three Cheese Ziti Marinara
Marinara is typically the safest of the pasta sauces, but that rule fails to hold as soon as Smart Ones buries the plate under a rubbery quilt of cheese.
Stouffer's Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo
Alfredo sauce contains any of the following: oil, butter, cream, and four types of cheeses. In other words, it's a full-fat assault.
Stouffer's Classics Macaroni & Cheese
"Macaroni and cheese can potentially be healthy, but the frozen varieties tend to be laden with calories and fat," says Amidor. "If you're craving macaroni and cheese, make a fresh batch using real cheese, and you can even mix in some fresh cauliflower or butternut squash."
Trader Joe's Cheese Filled Fiocchetti with Pink Sauce
This dish will go ahead and knock out an entire day's worth of saturated fat if you don't stick to the (small) recommended serving size!
Stouffer's Four Cheese Mac and Bacon
Although this dish doesn't seem all that bad at first glance, it's packing quite a lot of sodium and carbs for one small dish that is supposed to fill you up, which this surely won't.
Lean Cuisine Sesame Chicken
A pasta dish swimming in sugar? Not ideal.
Stouffer's Bowl Fulls Cheesy Chicken Parmesan
Chicken parm is one of those dishes to always be cautious of and this version isn't any different!
Trader Joe's Hatch Chile Mac & Cheese
Spicy mac and cheese join forces in this frozen pasta dish for a meal that is high in fat and sodium. It's a no from us!
FROZEN FISH ENTREES
Gorton's Parmesan Crusted Fish Fillets
Sorry, but it's best to just throw these back. "Buying fish frozen is a great way to always have a good source of protein in the house. They last long, and can be flavored the way you want them," says Hayim. But avoid anything breaded, or with labels like "battered" and "crunchy," which pack on extra calories, fat, and sodium.
"Opt for either the fresh fish section or grilled filets," suggests Hayim.
Frozen fish without any additives is also a good bet. And speaking of seafood, check out every popular fish—ranked for nutritional benefits!
Mrs. Paul's Fried Clams
Spoiling clams with partially hydrogenated oils and kidney-damaging phosphates is an abomination.
P.F. Chang's Home Menu Shrimp Lo Mein
Chang's sauce is polluted with four kinds of oils.
SeaPak Maryland Style Crab Cakes
These crab cakes almost deliver more starchy filler than actual shellfish. Somewhere, a Marylander is shaking his head.
SeaPak Shrimp Scampi
Shrimp are essentially pure protein, so it's puzzling to find that protein accounts for just 13 percent of this entrée's calories.
SeaPak Jumbo Butterfly Shrimp
Each shrimp delivers more than 50 calories, and nearly half of that comes from unnecessary fats. If you want to try cooking up a fish dish yourself, here are 43 Healthy Seafood Recipes That Are Surprisingly Easy to Make.
Gorton's Roasted Garlic & Italian Herb
It's always better to eat fish fillets that don't have breadcrumbs…
SeaPak Beer Battered Cod
The beer batter strikes again, serving up tons of sodium and fat. Not the best way to eat fish, that's for sure!
Stouffer's Classics Tuna Noodle Casserole
Tuna is always a great source of protein you can cook up many ways, but this casserole dish brings on tons of fat, sodium, and carbs. Instead, just have some canned tuna with veggies such as celery and peas as a side, without the creamy sauce weighing it down.
Gorton's Beer Batter Shrimp
Each Gorton's shrimp is serving up 50 calories as well and with all that sodium, your best bet is to skip purchasing these crispy beer battered critters.
FROZEN CHICKEN ENTREES
Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken
While a fan favorite, this TJ's staple is one better left in the freezer section. Thanks to the sauce, you're treated to 16 grams of fat, which is not ideal if you're trying to watch your weight. Instead, check out these healthy, quick, and easy dinner recipes using Trader Joe's products.
P.F. Chang's Orange Chicken
This bag has nearly a half-day's sodium and more sugar than three Krispy Kreme donuts packed in.
Banquet Chicken Breast Patties
Banquet's breading adds excess calories and zero value. It also gets demerits for using inflammatory soybean oil.
Michelina's Teriyaki Chicken
Just because they're touted as portion-controlled and low-calorie, doesn't mean you should stock up on these. "Many frozen prepared entrees pack a surprising amount of sugar," says St. John. "Be especially cautious of the meals with sweet sauces—think teriyaki and sweet-and-sour."
Instead of opting for pre-made, purchase frozen meal ingredients separately.
"Buy frozen plain quinoa, frozen edamame, and frozen broccoli, and add you own sauces and flavorings so you know all the ingredients going into your dish," suggests St. John. Try one of these quinoa recipes for weight loss!
Chili's Chicken Fajita Rice Bowl
Made with more rice than chicken, there's nothing fun about this party in a bowl.
Healthy Choice Pineapple Chicken
This bowl contains more sugar than protein—it has nearly as much of the sweet stuff as a half-cup serving of Breyers Chocolate Ice Cream.
Healthy Choice Café Steamers Sweet Sesame Chicken
This poultry bowl stuffs in almost a half day's worth of added sugars.
Banquet Chicken Fried Chicken Meal
Never settle for a frozen dinner with about a half-day's worth of blood-pressure-spiking salt.
Banquet Mega Meats Sweet & Spicy Asian Style Boneless Strips
Banquet's Sweet & Spicy Asian Style boneless chicken strips are covered in a sauce that brings a little heat and a little sweet. Together, it makes for a mega-salty meal that has as much sugar as you would get from one Original Glazed Krispy Kreme Donut.
Healthy Choice Sweet & Sour Chicken
With ingredients such as kidney-harming phosphates and potentially trans fatty modified food starch, we're wondering how this meal was labeled "healthy choice."
Marie Callender's Cheesy Chicken & Bacon Pot Pie
This cheesy and meaty meal serves up plenty of scary ingredients such as nitrites, caramel color, and interesterified soybean oil. Pass up this pot pie.
Hungry-Man Selects Golden Battered Chicken with Cheese Fries
Golden battered chicken served up alongside fries that are swimming in a cheese sauce makes for one highly caloric dish.
Stouffer's Classics Honey-Chipotle Chicken
Here, chicken is cooked in a barbeque sauce, served up next to cheesy potatoes that are baked with bacon. These are all savory aspects of a meal but that sugar count says otherwise, thanks to the sauce.
Stouffer's Bowl-Fulls Fried Chicken Mashed Potatoes
This fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, and gravy bowl is essentially the frozen version of the KFC's Famous Bowl. Sorry to break it to you, but you should stay away from both of these meals!
Hungry-Man Double Chicken Bowl Boneless Fried Chicken
In this meal, you're getting two pieces of fried chicken that is served with mac and cheese for a meal that is just drowning in sodium and carbs.
Chili's Chicken Bacon Ranch
While adding bacon to meals makes anything taste better, it's proving to be an addition that is actually a salt bomb. Instead, you can easily whip up a grilled chicken and veggie rice bowl yourself!
FROZEN BEEF ENTREES
Johnsonville Grillers Steakhouse Onion Seasoned Patties
Thinking you'll nestle a lean frozen burger patty in a lettuce wrap and top it with spinach and a scoop of guacamole? Sounds healthy in theory, but in practice, "One hamburger patty can enable you to ingest more than half of the daily recommended maximum for saturated fat and cholesterol as well as chronic-disease-enhancing steroids and carcinogens created upon cooking," says Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT, a plant-based dietitian and author of The Vegiterranean Diet and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition.
"There are myriad options in the freezer section for all sorts of nutritious veggie burgers, some made with beans, grains, nuts, soy foods, and/or vegetables," she says. Just make sure that your veggie burger alternatives aren't loaded with sodium, fillers, and unfamiliar ingredients.
Banquet Beef Pot Pie
A pot pie crust is essentially an oversized pastry, which is to say lots of carbs glued together with saturated and trans fats.
"Instead, try a non-dairy, vegetable-filled pie from companies like Amy's. They also have a Shepherd's Pie and Tamale Pie," says Hever.
P.F. Chang's Home Menu Beef with Broccoli
Chang's bagged meals suffer from the same sodium saturation that plagues its restaurant fare.
Hungry-Man Home-Style Meatloaf
Word of advice to the calorie-conscious: Purge Hungry-Man from your freezer for good. This is consistently the worst brand in the frozen-foods aisle.
Smart Ones Smart Anytime Mini Cheeseburgers
There's a lot of bun around these mini burgers, and if you bite into more than just one, you're looking at a meal that will potentially cost you over 18 grams of fat.
Healthy Choice Café Steamers Barbecue Seasoned Steak with Red Potatoes
With over a handful of different sugars, this meal will probably cost your waistline more than a dessert would.
Trader Joe's Gyro Slices
Heat up too many of these beef slices and you'll consume as much fat as nearly three medium bags of McDonald's fries.
El Monterey XXL Spicy Red Hot Chimichanga
The double XL Mexican burrito is fried in vegetable oil and packs in a whole day's worth of heart-disease-causing trans fats.
Hungry-Man Double Meat Bowls Angus Meatloaf
Hungry-Man meals really are nothing but trouble. This meatloaf and grits dish is not only high in fat, but the sodium is sky-high for just one dish.
Trader Joe's Cheeseburger Burrito
The sodium in these burritos are off the chain. Yikes!
Lean Cuisine Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes
Here, you're treated to a classic combo of meatloaf with gravy and a side of mashed potatoes. This dish is rather low in calories, a big plus, but the sodium is something you need to be careful of here. Sneaks up on you!
Banquet Salisbury Steak Meal
This meal is made up of steak that is smothered in gravy and served alongside creamy mashed potatoes, sweet corn, and a cinnamon apple dessert. That is just far too much sodium and carbs to justify this one!
Stouffer's Bowl-Fulls Slow-Roasted Steak & Potatoes
The focus of this meal is slow-roasted steak and vegetables, a winning pair! But it happens to be served over mashed potatoes and is slathered in gravy, which leaves you with 15 grams of fat and more than half of your daily sodium allotment.
Hungry-Man Bourbon Beef Strips
Yes, that is 33 grams of sugar in your beef, veggies, and potatoes meal. That is more sugar than you'll find in one Hershey's Chocolate Bar!
Cool Haus Chocolate Molten Cake Ice Cream
Rich milk chocolate ice cream is loaded up with chewy chocolate cake bites and a fudgey swirl. Sounds delicious but it's a true sugar bomb.
Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey
One bite of this ice cream and you're treated to banana ice cream packed with fudge chunks and walnuts but for all that fat, saturated fat, and sugar you get, it's just not worth it.
Magnum's Double Cookie Crumble Ice Cream Tub
Open this pint and you'll see a hard chocolate coating with decadent sweet ice cream and more bits of chocolate and chocolate cookie sauce waiting underneath. It's as decadent as it sounds, so it comes as no surprise that this pint clocks in more than 1,000 calories in a single pint.
Blue Bunny Blu's Birthday Party
Titanium dioxide (an ingredient found in sunblock) and eight other artificial dyes are just some of the scary ingredients in this tub.
Talenti Belgian Chocolate
Even this Belgium-imported cocoa isn't worth the belly fat.
Graeter's Cookie Dough Chocolate Chip
One serving of this stuff has as much sugar as you'd find in seven sugared donuts from Dunkin Donuts. And that's just one serving, not even factoring in the entire pint, which is very easy to eat.
Magnum's Milk Chocolate Almond Ice Cream Tub
The amount of sugar in this pint is equal to that of three standard bags of milk chocolate M&M's. Yikes!
Tillamook's White Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream
Don't let the raspberry fool you. You read that right—there are more than 200 grams of sugar in this tub of ice cream.
Häagen-Dazs' Peanut Butter Salted Fudge Ice Cream
You can eat just as many calories in two McDonald's Quarter Pounder with cheese as you get in one pint of this ice cream. And with the burgers, you would be consuming less fat as well. Just something to keep in mind…
Talenti Peanut Butter Vanilla Fudge
"Layers" is one of those words that is a red flag when it comes to desserts. Here, peanut butter gelato is loaded up with fudge sauce, vanilla gelato, and peanut butter cookie pieces.
Ben & Jerry's Chubby Hubby
The Chubby Hubby ice cream flavor is one of the most popular and while it might taste amazing, it's important to keep in mind that this mix of fudge, peanut butter, and pretzels is high in saturated fat, carbs, and sugar.
Ben & Jerry's Peanut Butter Cup
Eat two scoops of this and you'll take in more calories than you would with a McDonald's burger with a small side of french fries. So sad!