The Best Trader Joe's Frozen Meal, According To A Dietitian

Some nights, you just don't want to cook. Maybe it's been a long work day and you realize you're out of groceries, or maybe you're just feeling decadent. Either way, you're faced with a choice: frozen food or takeout. Talking to Mashed, Kristen Carli, MD, RD, a registered dietician nutritionist who owns Camelback Nutrition & Wellness, puts her professional weight towards frozen food: "With a frozen meal, you can see what ingredients are used to make the meal. This allows one more control over what is in the foods they consume."

However, as Carli elaborates, not all frozen foods are created equal. Specifically, many frozen foods contain high amounts of sodium and sugar. They're used as preservatives or, according to Livestrong, they're present in sauces and flavorings. That doesn't mean you should be fleeing from all frozen food, though. "A good rule of thumb is to look for any frozen meal with less than 600 mg per serving," Carli says. Doing so would keep your sodium intake under a daily maximum of 2,300 milligrams.

What kind of frozen foods are best at Trader Joe's?

Of course, any Mashed read has read and read and read about the dangers of sodium. It's less a refrain than an omnipresent chant at this point. But knowing that too much sodium is bad doesn't really give people any examples about what they should eat.

So, Mashed presented Kristen Carli with some examples of frozen meal options at Trader Joe's, specifically the bowl series that includes the Riced Cauliflower Bowl, the Chicken Burrito Bowl, and Sriracha Shrimp Bowl. They all received her stamp of approval. "They include little to none added sugars and the sodium content is not very high," she noted. "Additionally, these meals have good amounts of protein and fiber." Ideally, if you are having a frozen meal, it should give you 9 grams of protein and 4g of fiber at minimum. With that criteria, the Chicken Burrito Bowl is Carli's top pick, though it might not be everyone's go-to.

Ultimately, the frozen meal you should choose will depend on what you want. Kristen Carli says that those looking for meals without preservatives need to examine the ingredients list, while those interested in weight loss would want to look for meals with higher protein and more vegetables. But don't feel too pressured to get caught up in the particulars all the time — frozen meals are about convenience, and sometimes you just need to satisfy your hunger.