Frozen Dinners: Are They A Fast Food Alternative or Just as Bad?

We all lead busy lives and sometimes, it's tough to find the time to make dinner.

Frozen food is a good option if you need something quick and convenient, but you have to be careful, if you're worried about making good choices.

Fast food alternative?
We all do it. With little time to go out for lunch, we opt for frozen meals. They're better for you than fast food, right?

UT Southwestern Medical Center Dietitian Lona Standon says, "You've gotta watch that nutrition label. Flip that box over, check that nutrition label, because some of those frozen foods are going to be just as bad in calories and fat as what you might buy at a fast food restaurant."

So, how can you tell the difference? It's easy, according to Sandon. She says when you're buying frozen meals, pay close attention to calories, fat and sodium.

To keep it in the healthy range, a meal's total calories should between 400 and 600 calories, or less. Also, take a look at total fat; your meal should be less than 20 percent of the daily value for fat. When it comes to saturated fat, look for three grams or less.

Watch out for sodium intake as well when it comes to frozen food dinners. Look for less than 600 milligrams of sodium and if you are watching your sodium intake for health reasons, like high blood pressure, aim for less than 400 grams.

Frozen meals can be a good choice. Standon says, "One of the benefits of doing some of these frozen dinners is that it's portion controlled, so they do help people eat a little bit less and stick within a calorie level."

Another tip: just because the box has healthy in the title, doesn't guarantee that it really is a healthy food. You should still check out that nutrition label.

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