Frozen meals have come a long way since the French bread pizzas and bland diet entrées of your youth. Today’s frigid foods can be just as nutritious and flavorful as fresh eats, which is fantastic news if you’re a mere mortal who doesn’t always have time to whip up an Instagram-worthy plate from scratch.
“At some point, we all get too busy to prepare a meal, so having healthy frozen foods on hand is a great way to prevent impulsive takeout decisions,” says Emily Kyle, R.D. And it’s no surprise that Trader Joe’s—the haven for seekers of quality convenience foods—is a smart place to shop for these easy staples. “Trader Joe’s has many frozen options with nutrition-packed ingredients like whole veggies and legumes,” says Kyle. Even better, they’re typically affordable, at $5 or less per serving.
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That said, the frozen section at TJ’s isn’t all kale and pinto beans. “Like all frozen meals, it’s important to keep an eye on the sodium, because most contain high amounts,” says Kyle, who suggests staying around 750 milligrams or less per serving, and pairing your meal with a big glass of water to stay hydrated and avoid bloat. And also aim for fewer than 500 calories, at least three grams of fiber, and as much protein as possible, suggests Jenny Beth Kroplin, R.D., to ensure your meal is hearty, but not heavy.
Don’t feel like doing the math? We asked eight nutritionists to share their top TJ’s frozen food picks: