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Frozen Meals

by John McGran & Becky Billingsley

How do Mr. Bad Food (a.k.a. John McGran) and Mrs. Good Food (Becky Billingsley) approach frozen meals? With a lot of healthy skepticism!

This month they dig into microwavable trays of trouble.

From Mr. Bad Food:

Hungry-Man Dinner, Swanson

Swanson Hungry-Man meals are the O.J. Simpson of the grocery product industry -- they may look good, but letting them into your life could be hazardous to your health.

Hungry-Man meals are loaded with fat, sodium and cholesterol. We do not recommend eating Hungry-Man meals if you're trying to lose or maintain your weight. However, if you're on a mission to become obese, then by all means fill your freezer with ‘em.

Here's one poor example:

Hungry-Man Rotisserie Chicken (with mashed potatoes, green beans and a brownie): 690 calories… 35 grams of fat (that’s 54% of the Recommended Daily Value!)…          10g saturated fat (50% of the RDV)… 250mg cholesterol (83% of the RDV)… 1,880mg sodium (78% of the RDV)…

Ugh… nutrition numbers like these make my belly feel like lead. Does anyone really think a Hungry-Man chicken dinner is worth more than half of your daily fat allowance? It’s not even FRIED CHICKEN! You’d think rotisserie chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans would be passably healthy. Think again.

Chew on This: Why not take a stab at making your own home version of a much-healthier chicken dinner?


From Mrs. Good Food:

Meanly lean

I like Lean Cuisine’s Roasted Garlic Chicken meal, which is in their Café Classics line. It tastes great, and I ate every bite.

However, there aren’t many bites.

This is another case of “objects on the box may appear bigger than what’s really in the box.”

I don’t mind small servings, but let’s be honest about it. The picture on the box shows six generous-size pieces of white-meat chicken with pretty brown grill marks on them. Behind the chicken, covering half the plate, is the accompanying “spinach in a creamy Parmesan sauce.”

The photographer must have used a dessert plate.

The reality is my meal had two decent-size one-bite chicken pieces and three half-bite scraps. There were eight bites of spinach.

So you tell me – are 11 ½ bites of food enough for you for a filling lunch? Me neither.

The meal has 180 calories, 7g fat (2.5 saturated, 1.5 polyunsaturated, 2.5 monounsaturated), 40mg cholesterol, 680mg sodium, 9g carbohydrate (1 fiber, 4 sugars) and 21g protein.

For goodness’ sake: I ate the meal an hour and a half ago, and I’m starting to get hungry again. The food is definitely tasty, but next time I’ll either add a salad or some other healthy side dish to the menu or plan on having a healthy and filling mid-afternoon snack.


Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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