It’s time to shift the paradigm of frozen foods. Easy-to-make meals have been associated with artificial preservatives and gluttonous additives for far too long, the ’90s image of a scruffy man in a wife beater eating on a pullout in front of a T.V. scarred too deeply into memory. But times have changed. The old stuff remains — looking at you, Stouffer’s — but there are healthy, organic alternatives right in the freezer isle. Not having enough hours in the day is no longer an excuse for unhealthy eating. These are the best meals that won’t shake your self-image (or bowel movements). The best part: they’re actually pretty good.
Note: These are do-it-yourself meals, not James Beard Award-winning restaurant entrees. If you want the latter, consider getting out the credit card and going to a place with a waiter.
Carnivores, don’t be shy: Amy’s Kitchen churns out 100 percent vegetarian meals, but they’re so good it won’t matter. Amy’s products are all made from scratch and don’t have any additives, preservatives or GMOs; so you won’t have to concoct anything from dehydrated flakes. From tortellino bowls to gluten-free burritos, potpies and veggie burgers, Amy’s Kitchen offers a cornucopia of frozen options.
Cascadian Farms Organic
Along the Skagit River in Washington’s Cascade Mountains, Cascadian Farms started out on just small plot of land over 40 years ago. Now its expanded into one of the US’s leaders in producing wholesome organic food. Their goal: to cultivate healthy food without hurting the land. So their farms don’t have any harmful runoff and very little soil erosion. Additionally, they’ve developed recyclable granola bar wrappers and are committed improving the declining population of indigenous honeybees. Their frozen vegetables (broccoli) are particularly tasty.
With grass-fed beef, wild-caught salmon, minimally processed poultry and USDA-certified organic fruits and vegetables, Artisan Bistro’s range of products offer more for meat eaters. The brand is committed to using organic and sustainably sourced ingredients, and emphasizes health, wellness and zen. Their website’s “Quiet Space” page features no words and just a landscape image…which is a bit strange. But nonetheless, the new “bistro-style” products are healthy and tasty. Their current best sellers: Chicken Parmesan Bake and Wild Salmon.
Kashi practices progressive nutrition. All of their ingredients are organic, cultivated using sustainable and ethical farming methods — so synthetic coloring, artificial flavoring and preservatives are out of the question. The name “Kashi” is a blend of two words: kosher and macrobiotics. Their frozen food line features three-cheese penne, chicken and spicy black bean enchiladas, and Indian tikka masala.
What makes Trader Joe’s different from other grocery stores? Value. Products under the “Trader Joe’s” name feature hard-to-find, great-tasting and directly sourced ingredients, without the additional fees. Their frozen meals are no different. With an extensive variety of options (including vegetarian and low-sodium options), Joe’s is capable of plugging up your home freezer.
Burgers, sausages, chicken wings and hot dogs — but without the meat. Morningstar Farms targets vegetarians and people who just want to start eating healthier. Their meals, catered for all hours of the day, feature entrees like baja black bean pizza, buffalo chicken patties, and veggie and turk’y (aka tofurkey) burgers.
Bypassing traditional entrees, Alexia skips straight to side dishes. Frozen entrees that include sides are, more often than not, disappointing; a Manhattan chef aimed to fix that. Made from all-natural ingredients, Alexia’s side plate selection includes artisan breads, onion rings, Yukon french fries and vegetables. These gourmet, high-quality side meals are ideal for guys who just need to take their filet to the next level.
Over the past two decades Annie Chun has grown to become “the leading producer of all-natural, gourmet Pan-Asian food in the United States”. Their frozen meals come in a wide variety of tasty options, including vegetarian and gluten free. Each is designed to be convenient, healthy and a wise alternative to Americanized and fatty oriental meals. Annie Chun’s frozen entrees can be found in grocery stores from coast to coast, including Target, Whole Foods, Wal-Mart, and Trader Joe’s.