How to make a “healthy frozen dinner” an actual meal

Okay. Sue me. I know frozen dinners like Healthy Choice, Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones, etc etc are not “clean eating” and the best frozen meal is one you prepared yourself in advance with fresh ingredients.

But life can sometimes get the best of us. And like I mentioned earlier, this month has been rough for me. So my favorite Healthy Choice meals have been a bit of a life saver at times.

However, there’s a HUGE misconception when it comes to these kinds of frozen dinners and if you don’t know any better, you’ll end up super hunger afterward, binge eating, and just hangry all over.

The truth is, no matter what the label says, very rarely are these frozen dinners acceptable meals. The only frozen dinners I’ve found that are actually filling and not detrimental to my weight loss journey are Amy’s Organic or certain Kashi meals. But sometimes, those can get pricey.

So, in a pinch, how can someone make these kinds of frozen dinners suitable meals?

Easy: EXTRA VEGGIES.
I learned this trick working at a health care ministry in Florida where we actually had on-staff health coaches. According to those gurus, you basically have two options: dump your frozen dinner over a bed of fresh veggies (like spinach or lettuce) or steam a bag of veggies and pour it over that too.

The result? Absolutely deliciousness, more food, and satisfaction.

Some examples:

Healthy Choice Honey Balsamic Chicken Steamer looks like this by itself:

photo 4

Eh? Looks yummy but there’s like 5 green beans in there. Really? And at 220 calories, that’s not quite a wholesome meal…. it’s close…but it’ll ultimately leave something to be desired.

So I made it a salad!

photo 3

Yay spinach! TWO CUPS of those leafy greens only come in at like 7 calories. Whoop! Whoop! Nothing makes me happier than a hearty salad like this.

Then there was this meal which I originally bought for my husband in case I had to go out of town for another tornado response:

Healthy Choice Roasted Chicken and Potatoes Baked Dish looks like this:

photo 2

I forgot to take a picture after it came out of the microwave, but trust me, it did not look that robust. In fact, it only comes in at 180 calories.

Say what? How is that a meal? That’s like…a Larabar. A snack. Not dinner. No siree.

So what did I do? I added it to two cups of  steamed broccoli.

photo 1

  Yummo! According to My Fitness Pal Diary, my two glorious cups of steamed broccoli comes in at 60 calories. that’s a lot of bulk for such little calories. It still made it a small meal at 240 calories, but I followed it up with an apple and a Chai Latte so it rounds out (plus I eat multiple small meal-like snacks throughout the day so I can have smaller meals than say someone who only eats three times a day).

The truth is– this “trick” isn’t just for frozen dinners. They can be for ALL meals. In fact, half your plate SHOULD be vegetables because you’ll be able to EAT MORE, FEEL MORE FULL, and FEEL BETTER.

My favorite part is the feeling better. Who couldn’t stand to feel a little better about themselves physically and emotionally?

Even for those who cook, many people feel “cheated” by decadent looking healthy recipes (whether in a cookbook or on Pinterest) because the portions are so small. So, they either end up overeating or feeling deprived. But if you put that awesome, lighter creamy chicken next to half a plate full of salad and some other kind of veggie like green beans or asparagus instead of say…pasta or rice, you’ll truly enjoy your meal in a way you always deserved.

Be SATISFIED with your meals and add on the VEG! But if you do need to reach for the frozen dinners, make it a requirement to add on the extra greens and stir it on up. You’ll never be disappointed by your emergency meal again.

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