School has just started this week and while I am happy to be exercising my mind again, I am concerned about getting proper nutrition. I am taking a full load, doing extra curricular activities and working a minimum of 24 hours a week (while working out five days a week).
My days are crazy and I find myself picking up frozen dinners out of convenience. I stay away from Hungry Man and Lean Cuisine and opt for Ethnic Gourmet, which seems to be made out of whole ingredients.
But my question has to do just with that. Is there such a thing as a healthy frozen dinner, breakfast or lunch? Which ones are they, and how can I tell if I am truly getting something of quality?
I feel your pain man. Looking at the frozen section of the supermarket is quite confusing – it’s just row after row of boxed food. So can it be healthy?
The truth is if you look hard enough you can probably find something that’s decent. My main issue is that I recommend a whole food diet like the Paleo plan, and I don’t think you’ll find anything ready to eat in the frozen section that fits within the guidelines. As a rule though, you should look for products that have at least 10 grams of protein per serving, 3 grams of fiber, are low in sugar, sodium and saturated fats and have mostly complex carbohydrates. Another key thing to look at is the ingredient list – for one, how long is it? And does it contain a load of chemicals? If so stay away, move on and keep looking for a box that has just a few items listed.
But I have to ask why you opt for frozen food? Usually the only foods I eat that come from the freezer are vegetables because they’re cheap and easy to prepare and store. Grant, it’s so easy to prepare meals with whole foods that are ‘ready to eat’. For instance, most markets carry no salt added tuna, salmon, sardines, chicken and turkey. All you have to do is pop the top and eat! It doesn’t get much easier. Plus since you’re in school you can carry them around with a bag of nuts and have a go to snack whenever you need it. Then of course you could always hard boil eggs ahead of time and have an instant meal anytime. And I don’t just shop for veggies in the frozen section – they’re also found canned without salt added as well.
So I may get a can of chicken, throw in some canned spinach and green beans, add a little olive oil and spices and Voila! I’ve got an instant meal that’s super cheap. Don’t forget – those frozen foods are pricey and usually leave you hungry. I’ve oftentimes made egg omelets with mixed peppers, a little tuna, some broccoli and crushed tomatoes. It’s really delicious and very satisfying. The great thing about canned food is that it’s basically a blank slate and you can create whatever style meal you like. With use of different oils, sides, veggies and spices you can make a terrific variety of foods. It’s how I eat a lot of the time and I’m never bored.
And what’s also great is that despite what most people think, eating this way is actually cost effective. For the same $7 you’ll spend on one frozen dinner, you can make almost 3 full meals filled with protein, fiber and lots of great nutrients. While some may argue that it takes time to prepare meals I say BS. If you’ve got 5 minutes you can whip up something really fast that tastes great.
If you insist on frozen foods than try to use my guidelines. But I really urge you to try the frozen veggie and canned/ready to eat lean meats method that I suggest. I know you’ll be more than satisfied. Let me know how it goes.
And if you have a question – please just click here. I’d love to help you!
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