Many of the clients I meet with for private counseling tell me they rely a lot on frozen meals for their dinners or lunches. I can understand this because they are incredibly convenient and often times very filling. Unfortunately, however, they are not very healthy.
Several months ago I won a giveaway on Missy’s blog. The giveaway was for a free package of Macaroni Grill’s frozen entrees. I requested the Grilled Chicken Florentine, and I dare you to click on that link and check out the nutrition facts! There is a whopping 1090 mg sodium (half of a day’s worth) in one half of the package. Considering that the new Dietary Guidelines recommend no more than 1500 mg sodium/day for most of the population (see the executive summary of the new Dietary Guidelines, here), this meal could be disastrous!
Of course, a little (or a lot..) sodium didn’t deter me from finally making this for dinner one night! I followed the directions on the package and added the contents to the pan. Next, I did what I tell my clients to do; “Add more veggies to the meal!”. Yep, I poured an entire bag of frozen collard greens into the frozen dinner.
The collard greens added more volume, causing us to eat less calories, fat and sodium from the actual frozen meal. Nick and I were both pleasantly full from just 1/4th of the large bag, each (which means we each consumed 550 mg sodium). And of course this meal became much more nutrient dense with the addition of the collard greens.
The other half of this meal was a great addition to Nick’s lunch the next two days. Imagine one frozen dinner making it through four meals!
QUESTION: Do you ever add extra veggies to frozen meals?
I also do this with canned soups or chicken broth. With the canned soups I always add extra veggies for better taste, more volume, and more nutrients. If I just buy broth (low sodium) I will throw in whichever vegetables I have prepared and also some protein, such as grilled chicken.