Picking frozen meals

Cooking a home-cooked meal loaded with veggies and whole grains is both nutritious and delicious. But, we all have those occasions when zapping a frozen meal in the microwave for a few minutes is about all the time you have to cook up a healthy meal.

Traditional TV dinners were all about the meat and potatoes - fried chicken, Salisbury steak and meaty lasagna. But as the consumption of frozen meals has increased, along with people's knowledge of healthy food choices, the offerings have expanded tremendously. These days, there are plenty of choices for vegetarians, semi-vegetarians or even meat-eaters just looking for a little something different.

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You might assume a meatless meal, based on grains and veggies, would have to be healthy, right? Well, yes and no. There are plenty of healthy choices in the frozen foods aisle, but you still need to flip those boxes over and check out the fat, saturated fat and sodium levels on the nutrition label; these can still be high in some meals.

Use the tips to meet your health goals when you need to rely on the frozen food aisle for your next lunch or dinner:

•Know your portion size. Check how many servings the package contains. While most contain just one, you're bound to run across some that contain two or even as many as four servings per container. You may think you're eating 300 calories and 700 mg of sodium, when in reality you're getting 600 calories and 1,400 mg sodium.

•Don't forget the veggies. While it may seem obvious a vegetarian meal would contain vegetables, that's not always the case. Many meals are primarily based on pasta or rice and contain little to no vegetables. If this is the case, add a side salad to fill out your meal.

•Add some fruit. Not surprisingly, this is the food group lacking in most frozen dinners. To round out your meal, add a fresh fruit salad, bowl of berries, sliced melon or a piece of seasonal fruit.

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