Frost Bite

When I was in my twenties and teaching, I ate a lot of frozen meals. I was single and living on my own. I did not cook often and if I did, it was pasta or pizza. Yikes. To make life simple, I bought a lot of frozen meals like Lean Cuisine and brought them to work for lunch. A friend and coworker of mine got me to join a gym and then try out this “Fat Fighters” class. It was a 30 day program where we followed a certain meal plan and continued our work outs at the gym. It was the first time my eyes were opened to food choices. One of the rules was not being able to eat anything in a box. I was dumbfounded that she did not think my Lean Cuisines were a good choice for lunch. Hello, they are meant to lose weight?! Why could I not eat them? Seriously, I was marketer’s dream back then!

We all have busy lives. Not very many of us have time to cook a healthy meal for lunch in the middle of the day. At the same time, it is also difficult to make a healthy lunch in the early morning before your busy day get into full swing. I completely understand the need for convenience when it comes to lunch. And if you are cooking for yourself at night, I completely understand not wanting to make a huge meal for just yourself. I totally get the temptation to buy frozen meals but I have not bought one meal for years…..until recently.

I decided to do a little experiment with frozen meals. I wanted to buy some and try eating them to see how different I felt as opposed to the meals I make for myself. I went to the store and stood in the frozen food section for what seemed like eternity. Here I used to buy boxes of meals with no hesitation but now I could not bring myself to pick out anything. I finally made a few choices and it seriously pained me to add them to my cart.

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I am going to go over each selection and compare them to something I would make on my own. My original plan was to eat the meals but I just can’t bring myself to do it just yet. I’ll save them for a day we are low on food and I am starving. Famished.

Ok, first up is the veggie scramble for breakfast. I picked this one because it is similar to something I would make for myself. I love eggs and adding veggies to them. First ingredient listed is cooked scrambled egg whites. However it then lists the following: (egg whites, modified food starch, nonfat dry milk, whey protein isolate, soybean oil, carrageenan, salt, natural egg flavor, guar gum, annatto {color}). They stuffed all of that junk into just the first ingredient. WHY? Just make some eggs for yourself, people! You can make a big batch of eggs ahead of time and heat them up in the morning. I even used to make eggs in my microwave when I was single and teaching. I posted this recipe a while back on how to make eggs in muffin tins. You could also make a big batch of scrambled eggs in muffin tins. Keep them in the fridge and heat them up as you need them. Takes a little effort to prepare but SO WORTH IT. Why should you choose real eggs over a frozen breakfast? You know exactly what is going into your food. Instead of a super long ingredient list, my eggs usually consist of whole eggs (not just the whites!), grape seed oil, onion, peppers, broccoli and spinach. That is it. Ok fine, and ketchup. Don’t judge.

Next up is the alfredo pasta with chicken and broccoli. I picked this meal because I LOVE pasta. I would eat it everyday if I could! I know I used to buy this meal quite often for myself when I bought frozen meals regularly. Ok fess up, do you eat frozen meals? Are you honestly satisfied after eating a frozen meal? You are a LIAR if you say one frozen meal is filling! I ate those stinking meals but was always hungry within an hour. This pasta meal is only 270 calories. It is frankly not enough food. It only adds to the notion that one must eat super low calories throughout the day. I am a raging maniac if I am low on my calories. Honestly, this pasta meal is just full of empty calories. It is not filling. The portion of the meal is super tiny. Instead of eating this meal, I made my own pasta the other night for dinner.

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Here you can see brown rice noodles, marinara sauce, chicken and broccoli. It is on a small plate so it looks like a lot of food but in reality it is an appropriate portion for me. I added it all on My Fitness Pal and it ended up being about 320 calories, give or take a few. I was full after eating this meal.

The last meal I bought was another chicken selection. I bought it because it claimed right on the box that it was an excellent source of protein. It does have 22 grams of protein. That is a decent amount but what about the rest of the ingredients? Back when I was buying frozen meals I would have been drawn to their marketing. Excellent source of PROTEIN (see how that word is in bold letters on the box)? Sweet! Totally buying it! NO. Don’t be a sucker for marketing! Instead of eating some random frozen chicken meal, try making your own meal at home. I recently tried this recipe  from Slim Sanity. If you notice her nutritional information at the end of her post, her sloppy joe recipe also has 22 grams of protein. ;) I made her sloppy joe recipe for a recent meal prep and I LOVED it. It was my favorite meal so far that I have done for my weekly meal prep. If you have not checked out Slim Sanity’s blog, please head over there! She has beautiful food pictures that always make me want to make each of her recipes. Her blog is packed full of healthy meal ideas!

Why is it better to break away from the frozen food section? When you make your own meals, you control what goes into your meals. You can have wholesome ingredients as opposed to an ingredient list full of words you need to google. Making your own meals also means you are not filling your food full of preservatives that a frozen meal requires. Fresh, wholesome ingredients will ALWAYS be the better choice when it comes to food.

How can you eat homemade meals everyday, especially when we have such busy lives? MEAL PREP. I will admit that I often dread cooking for meal prep. It really does take some effort and time. However, the benefits of meal prep trumps the annoyance. I love having healthy meals ready to go each day!

Slim Sanity's Sloppy Joe recipe with brown rice and steamed green beans. Best meal prep ever!

Slim Sanity’s Sloppy Joe recipe with brown rice and steamed green beans. Best meal prep ever!

Look at those convenient little meals all ready to go for me! Spend the extra time to meal prep. I promise you that it is worth it! YOU are worth it! Next time you go grocery shopping, stay out of the frozen foods section!

Missy

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