Friday, February 17, 2012

Foodtrainers' Five Favorite Healthy Frozen Meals

I know there are people who freeze and defrost effortlessly but I am not an adept freezer. My freezer is like a black hole. When I fear something is not going to be used, I will label and pop it in the freezer. There it will stay until ice crystals form and then it is disposed of. The items that successfully escape freezer life, for the most part, do not require cooking. There’s organic frozen fruit and greens for smoothies, Crop organic cucumber vodka (you’ll recall from a recent blog that vodka lasts forever) and E3 Live. There are also a few select fallback meals that do the trick when time is short or I’m the only one home for dinner. When I am not cooking, I would choose something organic and frozen over take out that’s usually not organic and for all I know may have been frozen.



Evol Bowls- you may know Evol from their terrific frozen burritos. As they said this is their first venture “out of the tortilla”.  The bowls are gluten free, fiber and protein packed and tasty. I’d give chicken teriyaki my vote; it’s low in calories yet very satisfying.




Amys Light and Lean Roasted Polenta and Swiss Chard- I’m a polenta lover and always looking to add leafy greens to my diet. This box said “Lauren” written all over it.  I tried this for research purposes but would buy it again for a comfort-food lunch. It’s gluten free and soy free.


Asharay Quinoa Burgers- it’s hard to find a gluten free and soy free veggie burger. These are both and so delicious. They’re made with sweet potatoes and coconut flour. I can’t tell you about the original flavor because I went straight for the chipotle. These are organic, under 200 calories and have less than 200mg of sodium. Since they’re quinoa-licious a bun seems redundant. I love them over greens with avocado and spicy mustard.


Village Harvest Frozen Whole Grains- when it comes to grains “instant” isn’t usually a good thing. With Village Harvest “instant grainification” as they call it is awesome. This line of frozen, cooked grains has everything form red quinoa and brown rice to corn, bean and rice. I enjoy rice a little too much and adore the brown, red and wild rice medley. Pair it with leftover veggies, add a dash of hot sauce (always) or tahini and you’re good to go.



Organic Bistro Alaskan Salmon (and grass fed beef)  I generally don’t find frozen fish enticing. I am spoiled by a great fish market, conveniently located near where I work out (omega 3’s and serotonin, talk about a one, two punch). Other than Vital Choice, this is the only frozen salmon I’d recommend. We were discussing these with a client and Carolyn added “they don’t smell up your apartment so they're perfect for fish-cooking phobes”. So fish-cooking phobes, you know who you are, Organic Bistro is here for you there’s the Alaskan Salmon with broccoli and wild rice and a delicious though slightly saltier Pesto Salmon.

When it comes to frozen meals look for fewer than 400 calories and less than 500mg of sodium (though many of these have far less).

What are your freezer staples? Do you consider yourself adroit at freezing and defrosting? Are you a fish-cooking phobe?
*Giveaway: Organic Bistro is giving two free meal coupons to one of our readers. To be eligible comment and then tweet @Foodtrainers or like us on Facebook (the salmon is goood). The winner of our chocolate giveaway is Sam from Mom at the Barre, congrats Sam.

42 comments:

  1. Most of the items in my freezer are the packets of steamfresh veggies and some steamfresh meals.. oh and bread. I live out in the boonies so always buy several lots of bread.

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    1. Byzbee, I would be careful not to steam in any plastic bags. It's ok to buy but only microwave in glass or ceramic or transfer to a pot to cook. We don't want to risk our health in order to lose weight

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  2. I do use the freezer quite a bit! I used to by frozen meals from TJ's (black bean and corn enchiladas and the brown rice veggie bowl) when I worked outside of the home.
    Now I buy lots of frozen veggies, frozen/cooked brown rice, and frozen pizza. I also freeze my bread so it doesn't get moldy on me.

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    1. Lisa, I would've pegged you as a freezer girl, it's the organization factor.

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  3. My freezer staples are berries, pita, and....fish actually! I always buy fish in bulk and then freeze for the week. I don't notice much of a difference in taste...I'm either used to it now or it could be because I mainly broil my fish (I like it crispy on top and the <8 minute cook time). I do squirt with fresh lemon before seasoning--it helps with the fishy smell/taste. Although, you really shouldn't have any odor with fresh fish. I don't like freezer meals at all...I know they are a convenience option for many people...but I just can't find one good reason to eat one.

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  4. Thanks Danielle, I will try freezing fish and let you know. My fish doesn't smell but so many fear cooking fish at home. In an ideal world I don't think I'd eat freezer meals either. However, the grains and veggie burgers do come in handy when time is limited.

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  5. Lauren, I needed this post. I don't typically love the taste of freezer meals, but sometimes they are really useful for me when I'm home late and starving for dinner (and the alternative would be a bowl of cereal).

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    1. much better than cereal Betty, cereal is dangerous especially late in the day. With a quinoa burger, you're not tempted to overdo it.

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  6. I don't do much with frozen food, but these are some good suggestions, thank you. :)

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    1. See what you think ayala, maybe you can write something about them if you really like them. I'd love some "frozen" poetry.

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  7. I loooooove Amy's meals. Their Indian meals are delicious! And honestly, when I make ahead and freeze my own meals, the ingredients are pretty similar to the ones in an Amy's meal. (Yes, I am a huge fan)

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    1. Oh Stephanie, love Amy's Indian too, love anything Indian.

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  8. I don't eat frozen meals but I do use my freezer more than my fridge. Love the convenience of frozen vegetables. Plus I can make a big lasagna dish (only decent thing I can cook) and freeze it in pieces. It's so convenient!

    So jealous that Sam won the chocolate!

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    1. never would picture you a frozen veggies kind of gal Ameena, maybe Sam with share the chocolate or we'll send you out some too.

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  9. Kashi has a very similar frozen meal, called the Myan Harvest or something. It was polenta (or maybe plantains??!!) and it was pretty tasty. I've actually not tried most of these brands, but I talk about them with customers all the time (especially Evol and Amy's). I really want to try the Organic Bistro line. I had no idea they also made a dish with grass-fed beef! I don't think we sell it.

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  10. If you look in my freezer you will find oreo ice cream (courtesy of my husband), organic raspberry sorbet (my choice!), 2 Dr. Praeggars veggie burgers, a 5 oz salmon filet, and some frozen broccoli. Yea, we don't use our freezer much. I've NEVER been a frozen meal person. It spawns back to when my mom went in the hospital to deliver my lil brother and Dad was in charge of "cooking." Salsbury steak from a box. BLECK. So all I can relate, no matter how better or a choice it is, are those times lol. I DO enjoy Dr. Praeggars veggie burgers....ALOT. But most of the healthier frozen meals are also more expensive. Right now, without a baby (yet) I prefer just making things myself. :) OH but I did eat several Amy's dinners in college and they were pretty tasty!

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  11. Yeah salsbury steak would turn me off forever. Interesting not a lot of frozen item commenters here. I don't do Praegers b/c wheat or soy (or both) but super popular. You like California burgers? Feel good!

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  12. Thank you for this! I am not much of a freezer nor do I buy many frozen goods, save organic berries, but if you endorse it I am going for the Organic Bistro goodies! Sounds like the perfect answer to a busy day!

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    1. cameo- don't get me wrong they wouldn't be my last meal on earth BUT for an affordable, no fuss wild salmon meal, they're great.

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  13. Frozen organic fruit for smoothies and snacking and frozen veggies for last minute dinner additions are always in my freezer. Vodka too, and ground grass fed beef, frozen scallops, and frozen wild caught fish. Oh, and I'm lucky to have a dad nearby that likes to cook in bulk and give me leftovers for my freezer-homemade turkey broth, French onion soup, chili, and the occasional black bean and chicken enchiladas. I'd love to try those quinoa sweet potato burgers-you're right-it is very hard to find gluten-free, non soy veggie burgers! Danielle posted about some silicon freezer bags recently that I want to try out.

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  14. Um, your dad sounds awesome. Silicon freezer bags scare me but they shouldn't right? Silicon in breasts not good, in cooking items ok?

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  15. wait is it silicone in breast implants? I'm confusing myself.

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  16. I'll definitely have to check out some of the products on your list!

    I've been freezing more leftovers and often purposefully cook more, especially chilis, pasta sauces, soups, etc. And I make a point of eating them within a few weeks, so that they won't get lost... I also always have plenty of frozen, organic berries as well as banana slices in my freezer.

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  17. Andrea, making a point or maybe scheduling to eat frozen leftovers is a great way of putting it, good strategy.

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  18. Hi Lauren! What was the sodium content in the Amys Light and Lean Roasted Polenta and Swiss Chard? I like their products, but sometimes the sodium is way too high.

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  19. It's around 500mg right on the sodium bubble. Agree Brooke, judging from some of the other items above that much salt doesn't seem necessary.

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  20. Ahhhh Lauren I have never seen any of these near me!!!! <3 You'll have me scouring stores thats for sure =) I trust your opinion! <3 love ya girly!

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  21. Maybe it's time for a Pean & Crayons NYC visit. I'd suggest it on a Wed of course.

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  22. I'll have to keep my eye out for some of these options. I have tried Amy's meals but never this flavor. Sounds delicious! :)

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  23. Any other Amy's you like Kristen?

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  24. I love Amy's! Though I will say it has been awhile since I had any complete freezer meal. I do love frozen whole grains though they come together so quickly!

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    1. what other frozen grains do you do Allison?

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  25. I also love Amy's but haven't tried this one. And I love polenta, so I'm going to be on the lookout for it! My favorite one is the Country Cheddar Bowl, it has broccoli, carrots, tofu, pasta, potatoes, and cheese sauce. Delicious. I am also interested in the Village Harvest stuff, sounds like a good way to try quinoa.

    I do use the freezer for some limited items, but I'm also a little freezer-challenged. If I make a batch of meatballs in sauce, I'll make a lot extra and freeze them in portions that are good for one meal for our 3-person family. Makes it easy to pull out and defrost in the fridge for dinner with some whole wheat pasta, or to make meatball sandwiches. And I love the fresh direct brioche rolls, so if I have extra ones leftover, I'll put those in the freezer for later, same goes for ground beef or whatever if it's on sale.

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    1. meatballs a great freezer item and one I have actually used from freezer, good one.

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  26. Oh yeay! So excited! I had been really keen to try Newtree!
    I'm terible at freezing. Whenever anything goes in I end up forgetting about it until said ice crystals form and it needs to be discarded.

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    1. finally a freezer failure like me Sam but you're over 300 at Flywheel ha ha.

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  27. I grew up eating seafood, mainly fish, live from the sea. So, making a whole fish isn't really a problem for me. But in Germany getting live fish could be really challenging..so I have started buying frozen salmon, cod, etc. Besides that, I freeze homemade bread ;-))

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    1. of course you make (and freeze) homemade bread Angie. I totally take readily available fish for granted, what would happen to be in Germany?

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  28. I need to be checking our stores for these. Thanks!!

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    1. Alicia, check our EVOL they are so amazingly "eco" with their packaging and mission you'd be impressed.

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  29. Great post, Lauren! I have to admit I've bought the occasional Lean Cuisine meal in the past... I had no idea what great variety some stores offer in the frozen foods aisle. I'm especially excited about the frozen whole grains and the polenta with chard- yummy and convenient!

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    1. I think they would all be both "physician" and foodie approved.

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