Sometimes there is just no time to cook and having a frozen dinner is a valid alternative to the fast food drive-thru. This does not mean you are a failure as a mom, wife, or a meal planner! I just stocked up on some Healthy Choice Steamers at Kroger this week. They were on sale as a part of their Mega Sale, so after coupons I paid between $1.25 and a $1.50 apiece. I try not eat packaged frozen meals for lunch or dinner more than a few times a week.
Although certain frozen meals sound healthy – “only 300 calories!” – many have too much sodium and sugar, and not enough protein and fiber. I was surprised the other day when I discovered that the Kashi Sweet & Sour Chicken entrée I had just finished had 25 grams of sugar! In contrast, Kashi’s Chicken Florentine only has 1 gram of sugar. If you didn’t know, a teaspoon of sugar is 4 grams, which means there’s over 6 teaspoons of sugar in the Sweet & Sour entrée! (Yikes! That’s a lot of sugar for something that’s not dessert!)
I always make sure that I check the labels to see that I’m getting no more than 600-700 mgs of sodium (you should get no more than 2,100 mgs per day, and some people with health issues should get less than that.) I also want to make sure that I’m getting 15 grams or more of protein, which ensures that my energy stays high and I’m not hungry an hour later. I try to pick varieties made with whole grain pasta or brown rice.
However, the best frozen meal is the one you make yourself! This is why I am such a big advocate of freezer cooking. This way YOU control how much salt and fat goes into your meals. Just double or triple your favorite recipes and freeze the leftovers in individual serving sizes. I was wiped out after my trip to Kroger on Friday, so I was happy to have a container of turkey chili to heat up when I got home. I made homemade chicken soup on Saturday and have several containers in the freezer for future meals. I’m curious – what’s your favorite (store-bought or homemade) freezer meal?
Here is my Meal Plan for this week:
Monday ~ Meatloaf. I’ve been searching for the perfect meatloaf. This will be the third recipe I’ve tried this month. I’ll serve it with mac and cheese and cauliflower. I might make two meatloaves and freeze one.
Tuesday ~ Black Bean Soup. This is a super-easy soup to make, and the leftovers can be frozen! (See recipe below.)
Wednesday ~ Fend For Yourself Night. I’ll be teaching a class this night, so I’ll either have a Healthy Choice frozen dinner, or maybe one of my freezer cooking meals.
Thursday ~ Coconut Crusted Tilapia
Friday ~ Dinner out with my friend at my favorite Chinese Restaurant, The Oriental Wok!
Saturday ~ Beef stew in the crock pot. If there are any leftovers, they’ll get frozen as well.
Sunday ~ Oven Fried Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and green beans. My sister-in-law, Emily, makes her mashed potatoes with a tablespoon or two of ranch dressing in them. I tried this the other night and it was fantastic! (Add the same amount of milk and butter that you usually do.)
Easy Black Bean Soup
1 can of black beans, drained
1 can of refried black beans
1 can of chicken broth
1 cup of salsa
Shredded cheddar cheese
Crushed tortilla chips
Chopped cilantro, optional
Low Fat Sour Cream to garnish, optional
Heat the salsa in a medium-sized pan over medium. Bring to a gentle boil and let the salsa simmer for 3 – 4 minutes. Add the black beans, chicken broth, and refried black beans. Bring to a gentle boil and reduce heat to low. Allow soup to simmer for 10 minutes. Ladle soup into bowls and top with shredded cheese and crushed tortilla chips. Add chopped cilantro and sour cream if desired.