The Best Frozen Dinners, According to a Dietitian

Good Food Made Simple Chicken Black Bean Bowl is filling and dietitian-approved

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products. Healthcare professionals review articles for medical accuracy. Learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Gone are the days of bland TV dinners that don't have a vegetable in sight. Today, the frozen section is a great place to look for quick and easy options that you can keep on hand for when you’re not in the mood to cook or when you’re short on time. The best frozen dinners have real-food ingredients and a balanced amount of calories, carbs, protein, fiber, sodium, and healthy fats.

Review & Approved

Our top pick is the Good Food Made Simple Chicken Black Bean Bowl because it's nutritionally balanced and tastes delicious. If you're looking for an organic option, go with Amy's Light & Lean Quinoa and Black Beans with Butternut Squash & Chard Bowl.

"One of the easiest ways to keep your kitchen stocked with a variety of ingredients to make simple, easy, and nutritious meals is to take advantage of the frozen aisle," says Abigail Taft, MS, RD, LD. "Freezing retains the nutrition content of many foods and is one of the most underrated, convenient, and cost-effective ways to supply your kitchen with plenty of meal options."

Choosing frozen meals will largely depend on your food preferences and dietary needs. To help you find the best frozen dinners, we looked at various options, considering their availability, price, nutrition, convenience, taste, dietary allergies, and certifications.

Here are the best frozen dinners that are both tasty and nutritious, according to a dietitian

Best Overall: Good Food Made Simple Chicken Black Bean Bowl

4.8
good-food-made-simple

Courtesy of Target

Pros
  • 23 grams of protein

  • Balanced macronutrients, some certified Organic ingredients

  • Gluten-free

Cons
  • Higher in sodium and saturated fat

We like the Good Food Made Simple Chicken Black Bean Bowl because it is so well-balanced. With delicious ingredients and good portions of all three macronutrients—protein, fat, and carbohydrates—along with 4 grams of filling fiber, it promotes both satisfaction and regular blood sugar. For those people with diabetes who are counting carbohydrates and aiming for about 45 to 75 grams of carbohydrates per meal, this tasty bowl is also a good choice.

With 19 grams of protein and 41 grams of carbs, this meal comes close to meeting protein and carbohydrate requirements for a meal. It packs in nutrition with brown rice, black beans, chicken breast, tomato salsa, and Monterey jack and cheddar cheeses, although note that it does have higher sodium and fat levels than recommended. It only has 370 calories, so to meet calorie requirements for a meal and include a good source of vegetables, we recommend mixing in a helping of roasted sweet potatoes.

Serving size: 1 bowl (269 grams) | Calories per serving: 370 | Fiber per serving: 5 grams Sodium per serving: 650 milligrams | Protein per serving: 23 grams | Sugar per serving: 3 grams

Best Organic: Amy's Light & Lean Quinoa and Black Beans with Butternut Squash & Chard Bowl

Amy's Light & Lean Quinoa and Black Beans with Butternut Squash & Chard Bowl

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Certified organic and non-GMO

  • 100% plant-based

  • 7 grams of fiber

Cons
  • Smaller portion not suitable as a meal on its own

Amy’s makes great-tasting frozen foods from organic, whole-food ingredients. This vegetarian bowl features black beans and savory quinoa with butternut squash and chard. With 10 grams of protein, and 11 grams of fiber per bowl, Amy’s is an excellent option for an easy and tasty meal or snack.

Amy’s Light & Lean products are lower in calories and fat than typical frozen meals but don't skimp on taste. They're also easy to prepare in the microwave, oven, or toaster oven. Since this option is low in calories, we recommend enjoying it as a snack or serving it alongside another dish to form a complete meal. One person might make a more satisfying meal with two of these bowls, but take note that it could get expensive and would be higher in sodium.

This plant-based dish is friendly for the whole family, as it’s naturally gluten-free and vegan. Plus, it's free of common allergens, including dairy, corn, and tree nuts.

Serving size: 1 bowl (227 grams) | Calories per serving: 240 | Fiber per serving: 7 grams Sodium per serving: 330 milligrams | Protein per serving: 10 grams | Sugar per serving: 5 grams

Best Ready-to-Eat Meal Delivery: Splendid Spoon Lemon Wild Rice & Broccoli Bowl

lemon-brocolli-rice-bowl

Courtesy of Splendid Spoon

Pros
  • Non-GMO

  • 100% plant-based, simple ingredients

  • 6 grams of fiber

Cons
  • Lower in protein

  • Smaller portion not suitable as a meal on its own

We love that Splendid Spoon's ready-to-eat bowls are plant-based and super fresh, and the lemon wild rice and broccoli bowl is no exception. These bowls arrive ready-to-eat, but they can be frozen for up to one month, so you can enjoy them immediately or stash them in the freezer and reheat for a quick and easy dinner in a pinch.

With an impeccable ingredient list, Splendid Spoon bowls are a great addition to your dinner rotation. This one has broccoli, cauliflower, wild rice, navy beans, capers, and tangy seasonings. While these bowls are typically very low in calories per serving, most bowls contain two servings which comes closer to a complete meal. We recommend using one serving as a side dish to a meal.

Serving size: 1 cup (170 grams) | Calories per serving: 170 | Fiber per serving: 6 grams Sodium per serving: 270 milligrams | Protein per serving: 6 grams | Sugar per serving: 2 grams

Best Frozen Meal Delivery: Daily Harvest Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Bowl

daily-harvest-cauliflower

Courtesy of Daily Harvest 

Pros
  • Whole, simple ingredients

  • 100% plant-based

  • Non-GMO and 95% certified organic ingredients

Cons
  • Higher in sodium

  • Smaller portion not suitable as a meal on its own

Daily Harvest is typically known for delicious smoothies, but the Harvest Bowls are a great option for a stress-free dinner. The bowls come frozen and can easily be reheated on the stove or in the microwave to create a flavorful, nutritious dinner.

Enjoy the veggie-based bowl alone as a snack or side, or for a more filling option, use it as a base for your favorite protein such as chicken, eggs, or fish, and add a serving of brown rice to add filling and nutritious carbohydrates.

On its own, the low-carb Cauliflower Rice and Pesto Bowl features a delicious blend of basil, spinach, cashews, olive oil, and nutritional yeast that offers 8 grams of satiating protein.

Serving size: 1 cup (170 grams) | Calories per serving: 170 | Fiber per serving: 6 grams Sodium per serving: 270 milligrams | Protein per serving: 6 grams | Sugar per serving: 2 grams

Best Veggie Burger: Hilary's Hilary’s Eat Well World’s Best Veggie Burger

4.7
hilarys-veggie-burger

 Courtesy of Hilarys

Pros
  • Whole, simple ingredients

  • Free of common food allergens

  • USDA Organic and non-GMO

Cons
  • Lower in protein

Hilary’s certified organic plant-based burger lives up to its name as “world’s best” and is made with tasty ingredients like whole grain millet, kale, spinach, and sweet potatoes. Many vegetable burgers use potato or brown rice as a base, whereas Hilary’s is primarily made up of millet. Millet is superior to potato and brown rice in terms of protein content, and the whole grain offers various minerals and B vitamins.

Hilary’s are also incredibly allergy-friendly, as they are free from wheat, gluten, soy, dairy, eggs, corn, or nuts. Try this burger on a whole wheat bun or English muffin with a slice of cheese for extra protein, avocado for healthy fats, lettuce and tomato for added fiber and nutrients, and add your favorite spread. It also serves well as a topper to a salad to make a heartier meal.

Serving size: 1 patty (91 grams) | Calories per serving: 160 | Fiber per serving: 3 grams Sodium per serving: 260 milligrams | Protein per serving: 3 grams | Sugar per serving: 0 grams

Best Frozen Pizza: CAULIPOWER Veggie Cauliflower Crust Pizza

 CAULIPOWER Veggie Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Certified Gluten-Free pizza option

  • 10 grams of protein

Cons
  • Higher in sodium

The frozen Caulipower Live Life on the Veg pizzas are a great dinner in a pinch for those eating gluten-free. This option contains 30% less sugar than typical gluten-free pizzas. Each ½-pizza serving of Caulipower Live Life on the Veg boasts 9 grams of protein from melty mozzarella cheese and 3 grams of dietary fiber from the cauliflower crust and vegetable toppings. We recommend serving the pizza with a side salad with garbanzo beans or grilled chicken for added fiber and protein.

Serving size: 1/2 pizza (155 grams) | Calories per serving: 320 | Fiber per serving: 2 grams Sodium per serving: 600 milligrams | Protein per serving: 10 grams | Sugar per serving: 3 grams

Best Low Sodium: 365 Organic Quinoa with Vegetables

365 Organic Quinoa with Vegetables

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • USDA Organic and non-GMO

  • Versatile

  • Simple, whole ingredients

Cons
  • Lower in protein

Whole Foods Market offers a simple, steam-in-the-bag quinoa and vegetable mix with 5 grams of protein, 3 grams of dietary fiber, and a modest 10 milligrams of sodium per 1-cup serving. This freezer staple is fantastic for vegans, vegetarians, and meat-lovers alike.

Make a balanced, plant-based meal by adding your favorite stir-fry sauce and a handful of tofu. Top a serving with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and a few slices of healthy fat-filled avocado. If you are looking to balance the quinoa and vegetables with animal protein, you can also top it with grilled chicken or shrimp.

Serving size: 1 cup (140 grams) | Calories per serving: 140 | Fiber per serving: 3 grams Sodium per serving: 10 milligrams | Protein per serving: 5 grams | Sugar per serving: 0 grams

Best Vegetarian: EatingWell Vermont Cheddar Mac & Cheese

eating-well-mac-cheese

 Courtesy of Target

Pros
  • First ingredient is broccoli

  • Contains 17 grams of vegetarian protein

  • Good source of fiber & calcium

Cons
  • Higher in saturated fat and sodium

Amplify the nutrition of your vegetarian mac and cheese by choosing Eating Well’s Vermont Cheddar Mac and Cheese. Note that the first ingredient in this frozen dish is broccoli, which provides 10% of your daily iron needs.

Each package contains 17 grams of vegetarian protein with no preservatives, artificial colors, or flavors. Eating Well uses whole-grain pasta to boost fiber, protein, and overall nutrition including key vitamins and minerals. With 348 milligrams of calcium from real cheddar and mozzarella cheese (and calcium-containing broccoli), this creamy dish boosts bone health with each bite.

Serving size: 1 package (283 grams) | Calories per serving: 330 | Fiber per serving: 5 grams Sodium per serving: 670 milligrams | Protein per serving: 17 grams | Sugar per serving: 4 grams

Best Vegan: Luvo Performance Kitchen Vegan Great Karma Coconut Curry

performance-kitchen-bowl

Courtesy of Target

Pros
  • Certified non-GMO

  • 9 grams of fiber

  • 100% plant-based

Cons
  • Higher in saturated fat

Luvo Performance Kitchen offers delicious whole-grain, gluten-free, and non-GMO vegan dishes with tons of plant-based protein and fiber. Each convenient bowl can be ready in 5 minutes and offers 10 grams of plant-based protein as well as one serving of vegetables and 9 grams of fiber.

Chock-full of nutritious ingredients, Great Karma Coconut Curry contains brown jasmine rice, garbanzo beans, black lentils, butternut squash, kale, sweet potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower to provide a ton of vitamins and minerals, including 50% of the daily value of vitamin A, 25% of the daily value of potassium, and 15% of the daily value of iron. Top the dish with sautéed or baked tofu for extra plant-based protein.

Serving size: 1 bowl (283 grams) | Calories per serving: 330 | Fiber per serving: 9 grams Sodium per serving: 390 milligrams | Protein per serving: 10 grams | Sugar per serving: 5 grams

Final Verdict

If you're looking for an excellent frozen dinner, Good Food Made Simple's Chicken Black Bean Bowl is an excellent choice (view at Amazon). We are impressed with the balance of delicious and nutritious ingredients, including carbohydrates, protein, fat, and carbohydrates to help keep you full and satisfied.

How We Selected

Some of our dietitians are cautious to recommend frozen dinners, as many frozen entrees are high in sodium, saturated fat, and questionable ingredients. That said, there are many excellent options on the market, such as the products above. In writing this article, we spent time looking at multiple products and brands and consulted with trusted peers in dietetics.

We considered availability, price, nutrition, convenience, and taste. Nutritionally, we looked for products that contain a combination of complex carbohydrates (from whole grains and vegetables), protein and healthy fats. Additionally, we looked for minimally processed options, containing simple, whole ingredients with limited sodium, added sugar and saturated fats. We also considered dietary allergies, as well as USDA Organic and Non-GMO certifications.

What to Look for in a Frozen Dinner

Ingredients

When shopping for frozen dinners, you might want to check the label to ensure the product is made mostly of real food ingredients you can read (such as whole grains, legumes, or vegetables). 

You can modify a frozen meal by adding ingredients that boost the flavor and nutrition content. Adding additional vegetables, fats, proteins or grains is great way to add extra nutrients, as some frozen meals may be lacking calories and certain macronutrients to meet your individual mealtime needs. Taft says, "To mix up the flavors or textures, you can always get creative and add extra fresh veggies, greens, sauces, or spices during preparation."

Calories

Frozen meals usually don't contain enough calories to make a full, satisfying meal. "People often think the healthiest thing to do is to drastically cut calories, but this is not the case. Eating enough for your body is important to provide you with enough energy and so that you don't feel overly hungry later on. Most people need at least 500 calories per meal, plus a few snacks throughout the day, and many people need more than that," says Autumn Rauchwerk, MS, RDN, RYT.

"Pay attention to your body's feelings of hunger and fullness to help you decide how much to eat. If the serving size is small, and the package contains more than one serving, you don't have to just stick with one serving. You can also toss in additional vegetables, grains, or protein to ensure you're getting enough food," says Rauchwerk.

Note that calorie needs vary between individuals based on many factors, including activity level and age.

Carbohydrates, Protein, and Fiber

If possible, choose a meal that includes a grain to give your body enough carbohydrates. Most frozen meals contain less than the recommended amount of carbohydrates per meal, which is 45 to 60 grams. If this is the case, you might want to add a side of toast or grains or follow the meal with a piece of fruit.

Choosing a meal with a significant source of protein, like meat, fish, beans, or tofu, will help ensure you are getting enough to support your body and feel satisfied. It might be a good idea to shoot for 20 or even 30 grams of protein per meal, so you might want to add some beans or a scrambled egg to a meal, or enjoy some greek yogurt and honey for dessert.

Try to choose a meal with at least 4 grams of fiber per serving. This helps ensure that the meal will be filling, satisfying, and nutritious.

Sodium

Sodium is used in frozen foods to preserve and enhance flavor. It’s best to choose a meal with under 750 milligrams of sodium (less than 1/3 of the recommended daily value of 2300 milligrams). If you find you don't care for products with low sodium, look for monosodium glutamate (MSG) or monosodium in the ingredients as this helps add flavor and cut down on overall salt intake.

A lot of the salty flavor in prepared foods may be lost over time, so you might want to choose options lower in sodium and then add a dash of salt when you're eating.

Fat

Good frozen dinner options contain a bit of healthy fat, but you might want to aim for options with no more than 10 to 18 grams of total fat. In general, we recommend picks that have less than 4 grams of saturated fat.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the benefits of frozen dinners?

    If you lack cooking skills or kitchen space, you may find frozen dinners the most convenient way to prepare and enjoy a complete meal. Frozen dinners also save you time and energy and make the perfect dinner after a long day of work.

    Manufacturers prepare and freeze these meals right away, so they retain most of their nutritional value, taste, and texture.

  • Are frozen dinners nutritious?

    Frozen dinners can be nutritious. However, when looking for nutritious frozen dinners, it can be helpful to check the food label. Choose frozen dinners that provide no more than 20 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, and 600 milligrams of sodium.

    Also, look for balanced frozen dinners that contain a mix of healthy foods, like lean sources of protein, whole grains, and vegetables, and have more than 3 grams of fiber.

  • How long can you keep a frozen dinner in the freezer?

    You can keep frozen dinners in the freezer for up to 12 months from the date of purchase. Do not store your frozen dinner in the refrigerator. Keep your meal frozen in the freezer until you’re ready to eat, then prepare your meal as directed on the label.

Why Trust Verywell Fit

Eliza Savage, MS, RD, CDN is an author and registered dietitian with her masters of science in clinical nutrition from New York University. She has a lifelong passion for health and wellness and a background in marketing, nutrition private practice, and clinical nutrition. She has covered nutrition topics for a wide variety of media outlets and currently serves as the senior editor of Verywell Fit.

Was this page helpful?
9 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Wheeler ML, Dunbar SA, Jaacks LM, et al. Macronutrients, food groups, and eating patterns in the management of diabetes: A systematic review of the literature, 2010. Diabetes Care. 2012;35(2):434-445. doi:10.2337/dc11-2216

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Carb counting.

  3. Kumar A, Tomer V, Kaur A, et al. Millets: a solution to agrarian and nutritional challengesAgric & Food Secur. 2018;7:31. doi:10.1186/s40066-018-0183-3

  4. Counting Carbohydrate Grams or Servings. C.S. Mott Children's Hospital University of Michigan Health.

  5. Layman DK, Anthony TG, Rasmussen BB, et al. Defining meal requirements for protein to optimize metabolic roles of amino acidsAm J Clin Nutr. 2015;101(6):1330S-1338S. doi:10.3945/ajcn.114.084053

  6. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Appendix 7. Nutritional Goals for Age-Sex Groups Based on Dietary Reference Intakes and Dietary Guidelines Recommendations. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

  7. Glenny SA, Dahl WJ. Shopping for health: Guide to frozen meals. University of Florida. Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension.

  8. Ellis E. Frozen foods: Convenient and nutritious. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

  9. FoodSafety.gov. FoodKeeper App.