One trend catching on more and more: prepared meals delivered directly to your home.
On The Early Show Tuesday, registered dietician Keri Glassman took a look at product lines of companies leading the way, and offered advice on what to be sure frozen foods you buy on your own contain, nutrition-wise.
Glassman points out that meal delivery services are convenient and fast, and feature balanced meals, with proper portions. The thinking's done for you! They're great for busy people, she adds.
EASY: Takes out all the guesswork; for those looking to lose weight/maintain weight, this is a sure way -- IF you only consumes what's given to you.
FAST: Real time-savers. What's better than waking up in the morning, opening your front door and seeing all your meals for the day -- or having your meals delivered for the month?!
PORTION CONTROL: You can still eat a lot of your favorite foods because the amounts you get are controlled.
VARIETY: Customizable and flexible, enabling customers to tailor their meal plan based on their likes and dislikes; meals are interchangeable.
There are not endless options, so may be hard if you are a very picky eater! Not all systems are completely customizable. If dining out is part of your lifestyle, this won't work for you long-term. And delivered meals are moderately expensive; NutriSystem is the most affordable.
Based on the Zone Diet, it has meals that are 40 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent protein, and 30 percent fat.
It includes frozen or fresh food ranging from $22.95 to $39.99 per day. Fresh food is delivered every day and frozen food once a week.
Nu Kitchen, Glassman says, is "all fresh ... fresh, healthy food, almost like having your own personal chef. ... It's all about calorie and portion control." Convenient, fast, delivered to your door every day, for about $35 per day.
Approximately $300 per month (plus add on $3-5 a day for fresh fruits, veggies and dairy). Also, you can purchase extra snacks. Convenient. Fast. Easy. No guesswork.
These are shelf-stable meals -- they don't need refrigeration or freezing. These meals aren't frozen or fresh. You can take them anywhere.
They're delivered once a month -- breakfasts, lunches, dinners and a dessert a day to last a month.
FROZEN FOODS FROM THE SUPERMARKET AISLE
Many frozen meals are more AFFORDABLE, offer healthy options, and are quick!
Grocery freezers are packed with them, so what should people look for?
Sodium: 650mg (of the recommended 2400mg per day for the average adult)
Fat: Less than 9g
Calories: 200-400 calories (When looking at calories, keep in mind the other foods you're eating in your diet. You may want to add a side salad with some of the lower calorie options.
Protein: At least 15g
Added bonus: High fiber!
Some options meeting most of these guidelines:
Kashi All Natural Entrees:
Chicken Pasta Pomodoro -- 280 calories, 6g fat, 470mg sodium, 19g protein, and 6g fiber
Five-Cheese Tomato Pizza -- 290 calories, 9g fat, 570mg sodium, 14g protein, and 4g fiber
Cost -- $4.49
Lean Cuisine Spa:
Butternut Squash Ravioli -- 350 calories, 9g fat, 660mg sodium, 13g, protein, and 6g fiber
Cost -- $3.89
Four Cheese Pizza -- 340 calories, 11g fat, 650 mg sodium, 31g protein, and 10g fiber
Garlic Herb Chicken, with Green Bean Almodine -- 240 calories, 10g fat, 550mg sodium, 23g protein, and 3g fiber
Cost -- $3.19
Check the ingredient list! Some frozen meals are loaded with ingredients you don't recognize or watn.
Try to avoid ones with partially hydrogenated ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene); it's used as an antioxidant food additive, meaning it prevents changes in food color, odor and taste. It's found mostly in chewing gum, and high fat foods such as potato chips and shortening. BHT has been banned from infant foods in the U.S. and alogether in Japan, Sweden, and Australia. It's been linked to cancer in some studies.