Make Your Own Jenny Craig or Nutrisystem Using Healthy Supermarket Frozen Meals
By Andrea Morganstein MS, RD, LD, Consulting Dietitian with iLoveThisDiet.com
Do you need to lose weight, but are too busy to prepare nutritionally-correct low-calorie meals?
Well, one option is to sign up for Nutrisystem or Jenny Craig. But they're expensive...
(Jenny will cost you thousands over the course of your weight loss journey!)
Here's the good news: You can do-it-yourself for less! A lot less.
All you have to do is pick the right frozen meals, and supplement with the right vegetables, fruit, and dairy (or dairy substitute) and you'll have DIY Nutrisystem and DIY Jenny!
Exactly the same? No, but close enough to get the similar results.
What You'll Need...
All you need is a microwave oven and a trip to your supermarket.
Ready to Start?
Let's begin by choosing the right frozen meals for lunch and dinner.
Frozen meals have come a long way since the original Swanson TV dinners back in the 1950s.
In 2020, there are loads of great choices that will help you lose weight in a healthy way, without a ton of sodium, saturated fat, and sugar.
BUT...unfortunately, there are some horrible frozen meals mixed in with them. In fact, there are more bad ones than good ones!
Here's How to Lose Weight with Healthy Frozen Foods
Let's start with calorie limits.
There are lots of low calorie frozen meals that are not only delicious but filling as well.
- Many (but not all) frozen entrees from Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, Weight Watchers Smart Ones, and others will clock in under 400 calories.
Using coupons and sales, you can often buy these for as little as $2.00 to $2.50 a piece. Even some Michelina's meals (some but not most) are okay, and they're a buck a piece in most supermarkets!
related article: Inexpensive Diet Uses Supermarket Frozen Meals
Got a Little More Cash?
Many (though not all) of the frozen meals from Evol, Luvo, Kashi, Saffron Road, Amy’s Light and Lean, and Kashi are also wonderful choices for healthy weight loss, though plan on spending between $3.25 - $5.25.
I suggest living within your budget, and sprucing up your lower priced meals with some of the higher end meals when they're on sale.
Frozen Meal Sodium - Under 650 mg
When using frozen meals to lose weight, keep the sodium content under 650 mg per meal!
Since the average American consumes well over the recommended amount of sodium each day, it's very important that you look out for high sodium frozen meals and avoid them entirely.
How do manufacturers sneak in excess sodium?
Check the label closely, as sometimes a frozen meal label will say "contains 2 servings."
And that means double the amount of sodium in the whole box!
Frozen Meal Fiber - at least 3 grams
To lose weight, try to favor the supermarket frozen meals that have more vegetables, since they'll contain more fiber.
Higher fiber means you'll be fuller longer, and if you're fuller longer, you'll eat less calories throughout the day!
To really boost the frozen meal, add a side of veggies, like a salad, baked sweet potato, or roasted broccoli.
Avoid Frozen Breakfast Foods!
Okay, you're not going to like this but...
Don't buy supermarket frozen breakfasts!
The frozen breakfasts available in the supermarket these days are nutritional disasters!
And here's why: because they're are typically smaller in size, they pack in the sodium.
The high sodium content in the average frozen breakfast means it's best to enjoy them occasionally, and not as part of your weight loss plan.
Frozen vs "Fresh" Vegetables and Fruit
Frozen fruits and vegetables often have better nutritional content than the “fresh” produce at the supermarket!
This is because frozen vegetables and fruits are picked and frozen at their nutritional peak, whereas the “fresh” produce has to be picked before they fully ripen, so that they can be transported often hundreds or thousands of miles before being warehoused, and then sent to your supermarket.
So, opting for frozen fruits and veggies not only saves you time washing and chopping, but you're getting a boost of real nutrition!
Make Sure There's No Added Sugar or Sodium in Packaged Fruits and Vegetables
Check the ingredient list on the package of your frozen fruits or veggies to make sure that the manufacturer isn't adding more sodium or sugar!
Great Low Calorie Desserts in the Frozen Food Aisle
Believe it or not, there are wonderful frozen dessert treats that are between 100-200 calories!
When your goal is to lose weight, banning foods is not always helpful.
Instead of banning your favorites desserts, practice portion control.
Make sure that you only buy treats that are individually wrapped as single servings and contain under 200 calories.
- Try frozen ice pops, low-calorie fudge bars, and frozen fruit bars for your low-calorie dessert, all that can easily be found in the frozen food aisle.
- Vitalicious makes some incredible 100 calorie muffins, "muffin-tops" and brownies that you’ll find in the frozen food section of many higher end supermarkets.
In addition to truly great taste (especially the chocolate varieties), Vitalicious products all have very high fiber content to keep you feeling full.
If your supermarket doesn’t carry them, you can order them directly from Vitalicious.com.
Today is the Day to Take Action!
If you find yourself pushed for time, frozen foods may be the right way for you to lose weight.
If you have doubts, just remember that everyone always does!
And, if these recommendations won't work for you, don't worry - I promise you that there is a path to weight loss that will work for you!
Want Some Weight Loss Support without the Expensive Membership?
You can find an easy, very inexpensive diet plan based on supermarket frozen meals and portion-controlled foods at iLoveThisDiet.com, where I am a consulting dietitian.
Thousands of dieters have replaced Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem with I Love This Diet's effective weight loss program, and you can, too!
To earn a discount on your membership, feel free to watch their video by clicking below.
~ Wishing Health + Wellness to All! ~
Andrea Morganstein is a Registered Dietitian, with an MS in Nutrition. She specializes in weight loss, for both adults and children.