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Cost-effective frozen meals

Would not buy again. Let's address the elephant in the room: The difference between the picture on the box and how the meatloaf looks in real life is comical. Other than that, the only discernible taste it had was aggressively salty along with a tofu-life texture.

The mashed potatoes had decent taste but were almost too thin to eat with a fork. Finally, the corn was perfectly normal. This spaghetti didn't have anything particularly wrong with it — the meatballs were actually pretty good!

I could see herbs in the sauce, but I don't think they were doing anything. This would be ranked much worse if not for the macaroni, which was great. The chicken, on the other hand, was terrible — rubbery, tough, too salty, and with squishy skin. This had no questionable textures, and unlike most frozen pasta, the noodles weren't overly soft.

Unfortunately, it had no taste. Truly, a glass of milk has more flavor. I'd rather eat something bland over something bad, so this is a perfectly safe option — just a boring one. If I were to describe this meal in one syllable, it would be "meh.

The tomato, pepper, and sausage meatballs are all fine, and the pasta is a bit mushy. One thing I will say is that the bag says it contains parmesan cheese, but I detected no cheese, which would have greatly improved the meal.

All in all, underwhelming but not offensive. This meal from Hungry-Man had beef enchiladas, rice, and refried beans, and was by far the best meal from this brand. The refried beans are the weakest of the bunch since they were pretty thin and watery compared to their non-frozen counterpart, but they were fine.

The ground beef inside the enchilada was surprisingly tasty, and the red sauce and rice were not the worst I've ever had. I was pretty apprehensive about this, I cannot lie. But it turned out to be pretty good! It's definitely one of the better meals containing large pieces of meat.

The "ribs" are actually just pork and chicken patties, so if the shape is unsettling to you — as it was to me — just imagine them as a sort of barbecue sausage.

Even though the chicken is clearly not an actual chicken breast , it tastes and feels like one when you bite into it. Along with the mashed potatoes and BBQ sauce both fine , this was a surprisingly decent entrée. Another surprise!

After the other Smart Ones meals I tried, I was not expecting much from this. But the chicken seems to be the same one from the Banquet BBQ meal, so it wasn't bad. The sauce was also pretty good. The downside was that it's a really small portion.

This meal had by far the best mashed potatoes of the ones I tried and was pretty close to the real thing. This meatloaf is also better than the other one I had because it has a blend of flavors besides simply salt. Most importantly, it has ketchup, that ever-crucial meatloaf ingredient.

Everything other than the chicken in this meal was good! It tasted like a broccoli cheddar soup with rice in it. The chicken was watery and chewy, but the pieces were pretty small, so it didn't ruin the whole meal.

If you're picky about your chicken, this might not be for you, but overall, it's okay. The beef in this meal is surprisingly good, and the mix of rice and vegetables is great. The only thing I wasn't crazy about was the teriyaki sauce, which is too sour for my taste. Another win for Healthy Choice!

This was a relatively simple meal, but the beans, corn, and other vegetables gave it a nice mix of textures. The sauce was spicy but not too spicy, which was a nice change of flavor profile compared to the other meals. This rice bowl is the perfect mix of spicy, sweet, sour, and savory.

It's got a great mix of veggies mixed into the rice, and the chicken tastes like regular chicken even if it looks a little questionable. Very yummy. Macaroni and fish filet is not the most obvious combination in my mind, but these individual components were pretty great.

The fish was surprisingly good and normal tasting; the breading even held up well in the microwave! The macaroni in this meal wasn't as good as the Stouffer's mac, but the overall meal was a little better. The "steak" is really more of a meatloaf, but the gravy and mushrooms are an excellent dressing.

Going into this ranking, I expected the Stouffer's lasagna to take the top spot. It's iconic, it's legendary, it's the moment! But it's also very salty, and all of the components noodles, sauce, cheeses mushed together in the microwave. It's still great, though, and the pepperoni and sausage bits are delicious.

First of all, sorry for not getting a picture of the box, but you can see what it looks like here. This chicken was good! The sauce and basil were very nice, and the chicken had by far the best texture of the ones I tried.

The only negative is that it's literally just the chicken, so you'll need to pair it with something to make a full meal. Sometimes, simplicity is best. Keeping a selection of frozen meals in my house has become a near-sacred practice in self love.

For the longest time, I was one of those annoying people who legitimately enjoyed cooking dinner from scratch every single weeknight. With no children to feed, I took pleasure in the task of standing in the kitchen and cooking up a meal with no screens to look at or notifications to respond to.

Even during the height of the pandemic, cooking dinner was how I created separation between my workday and the relaxation portion of my evening. But as the pandemic shifted and I found myself out of the house more frequently, cooking dinner from scratch suddenly started to feel like a chore.

My days felt longer and I returned to the gym, which meant that oftentimes, I wouldn't start cooking dinner until PM, leaving me with barely any time to simply chill. It wasn't working. On a recent night, I was sitting on the couch, recovering from my workout, and I simply couldn't do it.

My feet hurt and I didn't want to stand in front of the stove for even 15 minutes, let alone an hour. I boiled a bag of frozen dumplings, heated up some edamame on the side, and called it dinner. Oddly, I felt like I was getting away with something…. I know the idea that it is, in fact, totally fine to rely on convenience foods for dinner is not exactly radical.

I had avoided such shortcuts for a long time — in part because I liked cooking dinner, in part because I didn't think they were economical enough, and in part because I felt like I should be cooking "real" food.

I am a food writer after all, I told myself. And sure, sometimes I still cook a completely homemade dinner and fully savor the process. I do love to cook. But I'm now actively building in at least two nights per week where I heat something premade up in a single pan or in the oven, and it feels like a true gift to myself.

I'm easing up on myself this year, and I hope you will, too. In that spirit, here are my favorite quick dinners from the freezer aisle.

Everyone I know is obsessed with the Mandarin Chicken from Trader Joe's, but I've found that I actually prefer their frozen beef and broccoli above all else.

I love that there's a green vegetable, and the sauce is perfect: a little sweet, a little spicy, and totally delicious. This satisfies my takeout craving for less money and less time than my local Chinese spot.

I love these dumplings. I always, always, always keep a few bags of frozen dumplings in my freezer, and when I tried Fly By Jing's new offering, I knew that I would be ordering them time and time again.

Yes, you have to buy them online, but the flavor and quality is SO much better than any of the supermarket brands I've tried that I find it to be totally worth the extra effort.

The company offers a couple of dumpling varieties, but the pork, shrimp, and mushroom is my favorite. While you're ordering your frozen dumplings, make sure you also get a jar of their Zhong Sauce to round out the meal — it's my favorite dumpling sauce of all time. Try It: Fly By Jing Dumplings Variety Pack.

I've found that I really like it when I can change my typical weeknight dinner routine up a little bit with the help of a frozen meal. For example, I'm probably not going to make homemade fajitas on a Wednesday night.

25 Cheap Frozen Foods That Are Actually Good for You · 1. Edamame · 2. Lean Cuisine Marketplace Chicken Cashew Stir Fry · 3. Brussels Sprouts I would NOT recommend the cheapest frozen dinners. I will, however, heartily endorse 'Lean Cuisine' frozen dinners/entrees Frozen Meals in Frozen Foods(+) Too busy to cook? Try one of these easy picks. Members get free shipping with no order minimum! Healthy Choice Caf

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Frozen Food Dinners That Are Definitely Worth Your Money Mardi Gras Cocktails Frozfn Chicken Dinners Valentine's Day Cost-effective frozen meals Cajun Recipes Cost-effective frozen meals Velvet Recipes. Meeals is a Limited time sample promotion deals name, with Cost-fefective options that include lasagna, pizza, bowls, and other entrees. Take Our Poll: What's the First Thing You Would Do If You Won a Big Lottery Jackpot? Are potential creatine side effects like weight gain, cramps, and kidney damage supported by science? Best Online Banks.

Cost-effective frozen meals - 25 Cheap Frozen Foods That Are Actually Good for You · 1. Edamame. Cost: $ (Trader Joe's)[x] · 2. Lean Cuisine Marketplace Chicken Cashew Stir Fry. Cost 25 Cheap Frozen Foods That Are Actually Good for You · 1. Edamame · 2. Lean Cuisine Marketplace Chicken Cashew Stir Fry · 3. Brussels Sprouts I would NOT recommend the cheapest frozen dinners. I will, however, heartily endorse 'Lean Cuisine' frozen dinners/entrees Frozen Meals in Frozen Foods(+) Too busy to cook? Try one of these easy picks. Members get free shipping with no order minimum! Healthy Choice Caf

Frozen vegetables and fruits are common go-tos for stocking the freezer — and for good reason. In fact, in some cases, freezing may even improve nutritional quality 1 , 2 , 3 , 4.

Try blending a handful of frozen berries into a smoothie for an antioxidant-rich snack or stir-frying some mixed vegetables for a nutritious lunch or dinner. Frozen fruits and vegetables are a healthy and affordable way to increase your daily vitamin, mineral, and fiber intake.

Falafel is a Middle Eastern dish popular among vegans and vegetarians. Just a 2-ounce gram serving of about three small falafel patties can add 12 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber to your meal.

These nutrients help with appetite control and blood sugar management 6 , 7. You can enjoy falafel by itself with a side of tzatziki or hummus or add it to a number of dishes. I mostly add it to salads and bowls. Research has linked soy isoflavones with beneficial effects on many aspects of health, including 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 :.

As with falafel, you may enjoy edamame as a side dish or as part of a salad or bowl. Edamame is another plant-based food rich in protein and fiber that makes for a quick, nutritious snack or side dish. Like chicken, turkey has a high quality protein content, meaning that it contains all the essential amino acids.

Instead, you can just place them straight into the oven, the microwave, the air fryer, or a pan on the stovetop and cook them as directed. Finally, keep in mind that meatballs are not just meant to be eaten with spaghetti.

Try having them with a side of rice and veggies for a balanced meal. Frozen turkey meatballs are another poultry meat you can prepare in no time without breaking the bank. Like turkey meatballs, chicken or fish patties are convenient and easy-to-make alternatives to red meat.

They also tend to cost less than red meat products. Both chicken and fish are excellent sources of high quality protein. Chicken is also a good source of B vitamins, iron, and selenium For instance, salmon and tuna burgers are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and are usually not breaded, which is often the case with cod.

Also, salmon and tuna patties tend to be cheaper than fillets of those fish Chicken and fish patties are an easy way to add protein to your meals. Salmon and tuna patties also tend to be more affordable than fillets. Adding high fiber foods to your diet may improve your gut health and help lower your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cancer 15 , 16 , You can use it to make fried rice or stuffed vegetables or add it to smoothies and burritos.

The possibilities are truly endless. Cauliflower rice is a frozen product with great nutritional value and versatility. You can use it in many of the same dishes as regular rice, but it has fewer carbs and may increase the fiber, vitamin, and mineral content of your meal. Frozen brown rice saves you the time-consuming process of cooking rice but still provides plenty of nutrients.

In addition to packing more fiber than white rice, brown rice contains phenolic compounds. These beneficial plant compounds act as antioxidants to fight free radicals and prevent damage in your cells 18 , As with cauliflower rice, you can work brown rice into countless dishes, including salads, bowls, stir-fries, and porridge, or you can simply serve it as a side for your meal.

You can work it into just about any dish. Regular frozen pizza is a highly processed food that research has linked to a higher risk of heart disease. In contrast, frozen veggie pizza crusts may actually help you increase your daily veggie intake 20 , Our panelists blind-tasted the meals, comparing each with others in their category.

The Nutrition Picture. The Calorie Count. How to Read a Frozen Meal Label. Best and Worst Frozen Meals. Chicken Enchiladas Enchiladas were a mixed bag. Two were good combos of taste and nutrition, with tasty corn tortillas and beans, but the others, not so much.

Evol Chicken Enchilada Bake. Calories Saturated fat g 6 Carbohydrates g 43 Fiber g 6 Added sugars g 0 Protein g 20 Sodium mg Saffron Road Chicken Enchiladas Poblano. Calories Saturated fat g 4 Carbohydrates g 56 Fiber g 4 Added sugars g 0 Protein g 18 Sodium mg El Monterey Chicken Enchiladas 1.

Calories Saturated fat g 12 Carbohydrates g 51 Fiber g 2 Added sugars g 0 Protein g 21 Sodium mg Smart Ones Chicken Enchiladas Suiza 1. Calories Saturated fat g 2.

Real Good Foods Grande Chicken Enchiladas. Calories Saturated fat g 8 Carbohydrates g 5 Fiber g 2 Added sugars g 0 Protein g 38 Sodium mg 1, Indian-Inspired Meals Indian-inspired meals—rich in ginger, turmeric, and other spices—were winners for taste and nutrition.

All those flavors helped keep sodium levels lower, and all the meals had ample amounts of vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.

Healthy Choice Power Bowls Cauliflower Curry 2. Calories Saturated fat g 0. Calories Saturated fat g 3. Saffron Road Vegetable Biryani.

Calories Saturated fat g 2 Carbohydrates g 67 Fiber g 6 Added sugars g 0 Protein g 10 Sodium mg Sweet Earth Curry Tiger 2. Calories Saturated fat g 7 Carbohydrates g 40 Fiber g 8 Added sugars g 5 Protein g 19 Sodium mg Calories Saturated fat g 6 Carbohydrates g 39 Fiber g 6 Added sugars g 1 Protein g 15 Sodium mg Lasagnas Lasagnas were nutritional duds, devoid of whole grains and veggies other than tomato sauce , and some were high in sodium.

Calories Saturated fat g 10 Carbohydrates g 36 Fiber g 3 Added sugars g 0 Protein g 27 Sodium mg Calories Saturated fat g 7 Carbohydrates g 26 Fiber g 2 Added sugars g Protein g 21 Sodium mg Calories Saturated fat g 6 Carbohydrates g 42 Fiber g 3 Added sugars g 1 Protein g 22 Sodium mg Calories Saturated fat g 11 Carbohydrates g 27 Fiber g 2 Added sugars g 1 Protein g 16 Sodium mg Calories Saturated fat g 6 Carbohydrates g 51 Fiber g 3 Added sugars g 5 Protein g 26 Sodium mg 1, Riced Cauliflower Meals Riced cauliflower meals fared pretty well.

All had a cup or more of vegetables, and had less than a third of the daily sodium limit. Most also tasted good, especially those with meat, like Healthy Choice Power Bowls Greek-Style Chicken—surprising, because meat in frozen meals can be tough.

Tattooed Chef Buddha Bowl 2. Calories Saturated fat g 1 Carbohydrates g 15 Fiber g 10 Added sugars g 0 Protein g 7 Sodium mg Healthy Choice Power Bowls Greek-Style Chicken 2.

Calories Saturated fat g 2 Carbohydrates g 10 Fiber g 3 Added sugars g 1 Protein g 20 Sodium mg Life Cuisine Riced Cauliflower Beef with Broccoli Bowl 2.

Calories Saturated fat g 2 Carbohydrates g 20 Fiber g 5 Added sugars g 5 Protein g 13 Sodium mg Asian-Inspired Chicken Stir-Fries Stir-fries might seem healthy, but not most of the ones we tested.

Many had added sugars. Calories Saturated fat g 1 Carbohydrates g 16 Fiber g 4 Added sugars g 6 Protein g 23 Sodium mg Calories Saturated fat g 1 Carbohydrates g 47 Fiber g 1 Added sugars g 2 Protein g 9 Sodium mg Impossible Teriyaki Chicken Made From Plants 1.

This meal contains more processed ingredients than others in our test. This meal contains more than 1 cup of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, or beans combined. This is a multiserving meal. The nutrition information is for the amount noted on the package as one serving.

Althea Chang-Cook Althea Chang-Cook is the associate director of content at Consumer Reports, covering food and kitchen gear, as well as stories for diverse audiences. Sharing is Nice. Yes, send me a copy of this email. Oops, we messed up. Try again later.

Recently Tested Frozen Foods. Saffron Road Chicken Pad Thai with Rice Noodles. Frontera Chicken Fajita Bowl.

Performance Kitchen Orange Mango Chicken. Performance Kitchen Great Karma Coconut Curry. But going to Walmart for your favorite frozen food may just save you some cash. A beloved brand of the freezer aisle, Amy's frozen meals are a hearty and healthier solution for the days when you don't have time to prepare a full meal.

At Walmart, many of the Amy's brand meals are listed for cheaper than most competing grocery sellers. Take Our Poll: Do You Think Bankruptcy Is an Acceptable Way To Escape Student Loan Debt? And at Walmart, you can make that craving cost less.

Grape lovers, that goes for the grape jelly-filled variety as well. After a week of cooking, stir-fry dishes are great for utilizing a lot of the leftover produce in your fridge. You can supplement that bag of baby carrots and onion slices with affordable frozen stir-fry ingredients from Walmart.

Great Value, the Walmart-owned brand that boasts high-quality grocery and household items comparable to the national-brand equivalents, has two products you can easily add to your stir-fry skillet.

The Great Value Organic Steamable Riced Cauliflower earns its place in the brand, the ounce bag costing less than 20 cents per ounce. With just two ingredients on the label, organic cauliflower and salt, this product is a reliable and healthy stir-fry base.

The Great Value Deluxe Stir-Fry Vegetables come in a frozen ounce bag for an almost shockingly affordable price. The label says there are about seven servings per container, which can stretch these veggies out across a few meals and alleviate the pressure of buying and using fresh produce every single week.

Those who swear by their morning smoothies may want to add some Walmart frozen fruits to their grocery lists. The ounce bags of Great Value Frozen Sliced Peaches and Frozen Sliced Mangos cost considerably less than their Target-brand counterparts.

What's more, there are no added sugars or additional ingredients in the bags. The money saved on perishable fruit alone could leave enough room in your grocery budget to spring for a pricier protein powder that will blend nicely with that morning smoothie.

Read: What Is the Highest Income Level for Food Stamps in ?

10 Healthy and Affordable Frozen Foods

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