Need some ready-made backup meals on busy days? There are several low-calorie frozen meals in your local grocery store that you can keep on hand when you need them. As I tell my clients every day, you don’t have to be perfect and eat everything from scratch to lose weight.
Many frozen dinners are advertised as “healthy” but are far from it. In this article, I’ll share my top 6 favorite brands for low-calorie frozen meals that actually fill you up. I’ll also guide you on what to look for on the package to know if a frozen meal is truly healthy, and why everything doesn’t have to be made from scratch.
Let’s dig in!
Kashi is one of my favorite food brands for both their low-calorie meals and their cereals too. There are several plant-based bowls offered by Kashi such as their Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowl or Vegan Chimichurri Bowl.
All of these bowls are packed with plant-based protein, fiber, and nutrients to give you sustained energy without blowing your calorie budget.
And you don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy this meal. I consider myself a flexitarian and enjoy these as a plant-based option on meatless Mondays. My favorite is the Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowl.
The calorie content ranges from 250-300 calories per meal and protein is 9-15 grams. Depending on your calorie and protein needs, you may want to add a 3-ounce protein like chicken breast or tofu on the side to meet these targets.
This line of Lean Cuisine meals is packed with extra protein to keep you full, but while still keeping the calorie content low to support weight loss. A few examples are the Chicken Club or 4-Cheese Pizza.
If you are someone that needs a lot of protein to stay full, you may want to give these a try.
Calorie content ranges from 250-400 calories per meal with a protein content of 15-20 grams. These low-calorie, high-protein meals may be filling enough that you don’t have to add anything to them.
Always use your own judgment and listen to your body to know when you are getting full or are still hungry.
This is another category of Lean Cuisine Meals – their Balance Bowls. If you want peace of mind you’re getting frozen, easy low calorie meals that are well-balanced, these may be a good choice for you.
These meals are delicious and nutritious and all pack 400 calories or less. Their protein content ranges from 10-25 grams depending on the meal. A few examples are Shrimp Alfredo or Sticky Ginger Chicken (my fav).
Adding in these meals once or twice a week can make your meal planning routine easier and make you more motivated to lose weight.
For more on weight loss motivation, check out my post “How to Stay Motivated To Lose Weight.”
4. Evol Meals
Evol is a well-known health food brand found in most retail grocery stores. What I love about them the most is that they taste pretty homemade compared to some other frozen food brands.
All of their meals are free from antibiotics, artificial colors, and flavors, and they use only cage-free eggs. Their meals range from 250-500 calories and protein content is 10-20 grams. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, they also have a plant-based category.
One of my favorite meals from them is their Portabella and Goat Cheese Ravioli. I love this paired with a side chopped salad with balsamic dressing. A few other options they have are Hawaiian Style Grilled Chicken and Ginger Soy Udon Noodles.
Amy’s is a 100% vegetarian frozen food brand with several healthy meals to choose from. Most of their low calorie vegetarian meals are packed with fiber from veggies and are 500 calories or less and contain at least 9 grams of protein, like their Organic Black Bean Burrito or Veggie and Black Beans Bowl.
While most of their meals are healthy, some of Amy’s meals are pretty high in fat if they contain cheese. Because of this, steer clear of any meals with “cheesy” in the name.
Daily Harvest is a vegan meal delivery service. This brand is different from the others on this list as they are made locally. If you live in an area in Daily Harvest’s delivery route, they deliver ready-made frozen meals to your doorstep.
A few of my favorites are the Quinoa + Chipotle Harvest Bowl and Kale + Lemongrass Harvel Bowl. They are rich in fiber and vitamins to give you energy, but I would recommend adding another protein source to sustain you for longer.
For example, pair it with a side of tofu, hard-boiled eggs, or chicken breast for a protein boost.
For more of my favorite healthy meal delivery services, check out my blog “Best Healthy Meal Delivery Services for Weight Loss.”
Criteria for a Healthy Frozen Meal
As I tell my clients every day, you don’t have to be perfect and eat everything from scratch in order to lose weight. But if you are going to eat frozen meals, you’ll want to make a healthy choice to make sure it doesn’t blow your calorie, salt, or sugar budget and that it sustains you for more than a couple of hours.
Here are 5 criteria to look for on the label when selecting a healthy low calorie frozen meal.
- Aim for > 3 grams of fiber – Fiber keeps you full and satisfied. Also, when a meal has more fiber it likely is because it contains a fruit or vegetable, which is naturally low in calories to support weight loss.
- Look for >10 grams (ideally 15) grams of protein – The closer you can get to 15 grams of protein, the better. This will help keep you full for longer and reduce between-meal cravings.
- Choose those with 500 calories or less – Anything more than this may bring you out of a calorie deficit to promote weight loss, so try to aim for this as a ballpark.
- Sodium should be ideally less than 600 mg – Too much sodium can make your body retain water, hindering weight loss. It can be tough to find frozen meals without a lot of sodium, as salt is often used to preserve the food. Try to go as low as reasonably possible here, and don’t add additional salt to your meal.
- Look for minimal ingredients – When a frozen meal has too many ingredients, it may be more likely to contain artificial ingredients, additives, or sweeteners that can hinder weight loss.
Losing Weight with Frozen Meals
Even though frozen meals should not be eaten every day, they serve as a healthy alternative to takeout or restaurant food. You can enjoy the healthy options in this article 1-2 times a week on busy nights. This will keep you full and won’t sabotage your weight loss progress.
Allowing yourself flexibility in your meals and taking a break from cooking helps you move away from the all-or-nothing mentality. I see a lot of my clients struggle with all-or-nothing thinking, but it can be overcome. For more on how to move away from this mentality, check out my blog post “The All-Or-Nothing Mentality – How To Stop It.”
And if you’re looking for more guidance and accountability in your weight loss journey, contact me to schedule a free discovery call. I would love to chat with you and see if my program is a good fit for what you’re looking for.