Coronavirus Outbreak Survival Tip: How To Choose Healthy Frozen Meals

Frozen pre-cooked meals do help as backup when you are out of fresh produce, canned fruits and vegetables and other foods and ingredients needed to cook healthy meals while on home quarantine as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. However, as in the case of canned goods, it is best to make sure that the frozen meals you are going to eat each day are healthy and contain little to no health harming ingredients. 

Jordan Mazur is the Coordinator of Nutrition and team dietitian for the San Francisco 49ers. Now on his fourth season with the 49ers', he oversees all nutrition linked to players, sports and football operations and works individually with the team's players to ensure that they are refueled and recovered in the face of all the hard work of the season. Writing on the team's official website, he has shared some tips that may need you not be a professional athlete, but will sure help you choose healthy frozen meals to aid in your survival amid the coronavirus outbreak:

Pick Nutrient-Dense Options 

"Here's the great thing about microwavable meals in 2020: Companies have pivoted away from packing mystery meat with sodium to mimic a flavorful, nutrient-dense entrée and created frozen meals in a variety of international cuisines that are actually good for you — including vegetarian and vegan varieties, low-calorie options and organic dishes," Mazur said. "You get the convenience, ease and affordability without taking a health hit. After all, once you've done your 9-to-5, finished a workout, and completed the day's chores, it's nice to sit down to something quick and effortless that doesn't come out of a drive-through window."

Citing a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Mazur said that those opting for a frozen meal at a grocery store consume an average of 253 fewer calories and 2.6 grams of saturated fat daily than those who eat at fast food joints. Those reported eating frozen meals also had higher amounts of key nutrients in their diet, including fiber and vitamins A and C as well as calcium, potassium, magnesium and other minerals.

Check Nutritional Labels

It is good to know that not all frozen meals are healthy. The challenge, Mazur said, is to find a meal to enjoy that also satisfies your hunger without the added fat.

He advised checking on the meal's nutrition label first, starting with portion size. "Many companies try to trick you by labeling the portion as something less than the entire box of food," Mazur said, adding that you should aim for meals containing lots of vegetables, whole grains and a lean source of protein. "You should also look at the ingredient list and nix those that have a bunch of added chemicals or preservatives you can't pronounce. Keep it clean." 

When shopping for a frozen meal, Mazur advised that you should look for those containing more than 5 grams of fiber and more than 10 grams of protein as well as fewer than 600 milligrams of sodium and fewer than 5 grams of saturated fat.

Frozen Food Frozen food is not as unhealthy as you may think. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock