A growing trend
According to Astute Analystica, a global analytics and advisory company, the global frozen food market anticipates growth from its current market of $254 billion to over $500 billion by 2030.
Why? According to its research, that’s partly because the “… busy lifestyles of individuals have led to a growing demand for ready to eat food products as they are instant, convenient, affordable and equally healthy alternatives to fresh food products.”
In other words, people are busy, but they want healthy and affordable food to eat. Enter: ready-made frozen meals. And let’s face it, whatever post-pandemic world we may be entering, we could all use some food prep relief in the kitchen, especially during the work week.
The convenience of frozen meals
The food industry is cranking out healthy frozen meals that you can pop in the oven, microwave or quickly sauté on the cooktop. Another bonus: These meals can help reduce food waste, as you don’t have to buy a slew of ingredients to satisfy a recipe, while having to throw the unused portions of the ingredients in the trash.
If all of this isn’t motivation enough to start shopping down the frozen food aisle at the supermarket, here’s another incentive: Frozen meals can allow you to expand your taste palates with globally-inspired, culinary cuisines. These fully prepared meals allow you to awaken your taste buds to flavors from around the world without having to purchase a plane ticket. These African, Latin American, Asian and Indian heritage cuisines, which are all full of fruit, veggies, whole grains, along with lean protein foods and vegetables oils, are also receiving the seal of approval from in-the-know registered dietitian nutritionists and cardiologists for their health benefits.
If you’re ready to expand your culinary palate but are short on time, I’ve composed, with the help of my registered dietitian nutritionist colleagues, eight healthy frozen meals, with unique flavor profiles, for your cooking ease.
Nutrisystem’s Cajun Style Chicken and Shrimp Sauté
This is my favorite for multiple reasons. This spicy dish delivers a boatload of protein, (24 grams), which is 48% of the daily value (DV) and includes a full serving of fire-roasted vegetables that helps deliver 5 grams of fiber (18% DV) in each serving. (DV is the recommended amount of a nutrient to consume daily. The % DV is how much of that nutrient is found in a single serving of food.)
The shrimp also provides some heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Here’s the best part: I order these babies from Nutrisystem online or over the phone so they’re delivered to my doorstep. That’s what I call one-stop healthy shopping.
(Full disclosure: I’m a consultant with Nutrisystem, but I’d order these anyway.)
Healthy Choice Greek Style Chicken Power Bowl
Kathleen Zelman, a Georgia-based nutritionist who’s founder of No Nonsense Nutrition and co-host of the podcast True Health Revealed, is a fan of this bowl as it’s full of vegetables, including cauliflower rice, simmered in a delicious vinaigrette.
Saffron Road Thai Red Curry Chicken
Even RDNs who write cookbooks often need a meal prep break. That’s why Toby Amidor, a U.S. News contributor, award-winning nutrition expert and Wall Street Journal best-selling author of “The Family Immunity Cookbook,” stocks her freezer with this spicy frozen meal.
According to Amidor, this meal is a blend of curries from India in a stir-fry form commonly found in Chinese meals. This world infused cuisine meal provides 13% DV of iron, a mineral many Americans fall short of in their diet.
Chef Bombay Beef Vindaloo
According to Nicole Rodriguez, a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer who resides in the metro New York area, the flavor of this frozen meal rivals that of the vindaloo at her favorite local restaurant but can be had in less time and at significant savings to her wallet.
She loves the beefy, ginger and cilantro infused flavor. Here’s the best part: It serves up only 15% DV of heart-unhealthy, saturated fat so there’s room to spare at other meals. Plus it offers 19% of your DV of iron. She rounds out this savory meal with leftover veggies.
Sweet Earth’s Curry Tiger Bowl
This East Asian bowl, featuring curried lentils, sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots and brown rice, seasoned with cinnamon, cardamon and turmeric, is an easy vegetarian lunch for Vandana Sheth, a registered dietitian nutritionist based in the Los Angeles area and expert reviewer for U.S. News.
The lentils help provide legumes in your diet. While the recommendation is for adults to consume two cups of legumes weekly, most of us don’t even come close to this amount. This meal can help.
Amy’s Pad Thai
Amy Gorin, a plant-based dietitian and owner of Master the Media, follows a gluten-free diet so this meal is prepared without wheat-containing soy sauce. Bonus points: It’s also dairy free, lactose free, vegan and kosher.
She adds a tossed salad with a ginger dressing for a Thai-themed dinner.
Deep Indian Kitchen Chickpea Masala
When a chef recommends a flavorful frozen meal, I know she’s on to something. Chef and registered dietitian nutritionist Abbie Gellman enjoys this vegan frozen delight.
Chickpeas are the primary source of not only the protein, but also provides most of the 50% DV of fiber, a ridiculously high amount for one meal. According to Gellman, she loves this brand of frozen meals because they always use whole ingredients, spices and herbs.
Tortilla Crusted Fish by Lean Cuisine
While the latest recommendation is that adults consume at least 8 ounces of seafood weekly, on average, we’re consuming only about half of the amount.
That’s why Lauren Harris-Pincus, founder of NutritionStarringYOU.com and author of “The Everything Easy Pre-Diabetes Cookbook,” enjoys this tasty, Mexican-inspired fish dish that is made with a mix of corn, poblano peppers and rice. This savvy RDN serves it on top of a cup of steamed frozen veggies, such as broccoli, cauliflower or green beans, to soak up the extra sauce and add another serving of Mother Nature’s finest.
Healthiest Frozen Meals:
— Nutrisystem’s Cajun Style Chicken and Shrimp Sauté.
— Healthy Choice Greek Style Chicken Power Bowl.
— Saffron Road Thai Red Curry Chicken.
— Chef Bombay Beef Vindaloo.
— Sweet Earth’s Curry Tiger Bowl.
— Amy’s Pad Thai.
— Deep Indian Kitchen Chickpea Masala.
— Tortilla Crusted Fish by Lean Cuisine.
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