How Do I Choose the Best Frozen Entree?

Eugene P.

Choosing the best frozen entree can be a matter of taste or a nutritional decision. In either case, one of the things to look for in a good frozen entree is the type of food that is included, because some foods — no matter how well prepared — do not always translate well as a frozen entree. It also is important to consider the state of the packaging for the entree, because the taste and texture of the food can change if it is frozen for too long before being consumed. Nutritionally, it might be important to look for frozen foods that are made using ingredients that have not been overly processed or that are prepared in a particular way, such as without salt or gluten, although this may reduce the shelf life of the meal. It also can be beneficial to look at the nutritional information printed on the package to determine the dietary values of the meal.

Lasagna is always a good crowd pleaser.
Lasagna is always a good crowd pleaser.

One thing to pay attention to when choosing the best frozen entree is what foods are included in the dish. Occasionally, some frozen dinners will include items that do not freeze and reheat well. This can be the case with some pasta entrees and entrees that rely on a delicate balance of moisture in the food. These meals sometimes are processed in such a way that the food maintains a particular texture when reheated, while other times the food simply will heat into a mushy mess.

The best frozen entrees are typically those that have been processed the least.
The best frozen entrees are typically those that have been processed the least.

The appearance of the packaging that holds the frozen entree might reveal some information about the state of the food inside. Packages that are beaten up or soft could indicate that the food temporarily was allowed to thaw or that it has been on the shelf for a long time. In these cases, the frozen entree should be avoided, because the flavor and, possibly, the safety of the frozen food could be compromised.

From a nutritional standpoint, a good frozen entree will have a balanced amount of vegetables, proteins and carbohydrates. Some foods may be a healthier choice if they have undergone less processing. This can be true of dishes such as sirloin steak, which can be full of high-carbohydrate fillers, as opposed to a dish made from an actual piece of meat. Looking for meals that are made from ingredients such as whole grains and have a fair amount of vegetables to accompany the main protein in the meal tends to make for a more balanced entree.

Nutritional information provided on the packaging can help to make it easier to choose the best frozen entree. High levels of sodium and fat might make a dish taste better, but they also could throw a diet off balance. One important thing to note is the size of a single serving as defined by the nutritional information; in some cases, a single frozen dinner could be measured as two or three servings, skewing the nutritional data.

Some frozen dinners will include items that don't re-heat well.
Some frozen dinners will include items that don't re-heat well.

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