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Frozen meals

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What's behind our frozen meal Ratings?

Experts at our National Testing and Research Center tested 18 models in frozen meals to see which ones perform best.
We look for:
  • Overall score
    Overall score is based on flavor and texture attributes measured by a trained panel. Products are presented in decreasing order of quality within a category.
  • Nutrition
    Nutrition rating is based on values for energy density (calories per gram of food), total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, sugars, iron, calcium, and dietary fiber. Desired nutrient levels are based on federal dietary guidelines. Extra weighting was given to fat, saturated fat, sodium, and fiber which are influential nutrients for these meals.
  • Fat in grams per serving
    Fat in grams per serving.

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Recommended frozen meals

Recommended frozen meals are standout choices with high scores. They include CR Best Buys, which offer exceptional value. When narrowing your choices, weigh features, price, and attributes that matter to you.
  • Buying Guide
  • Price & Shop
If you're looking for information about frozen meals, Consumer Reports is your best resource. Consumer Reports’ frozen meal reviews will give you honest buying advice that you can trust. Use our frozen meal buying guide to discover which features are most important to consider. We also provide unbiased Ratings and frozen meal reviews to help you choose the best frozen meal for your needs.

Frozen meal buying guide

Frozen meal buying guide

We've come a long way from the iconic TV dinner of rubbery turkey, tinny-tasting mashed potatoes, and gluey gravy. The best of the chicken- or shrimp-based meals we tested for this report are so tasty that you might forget they came from a bag in the freezer aisle.

In all, nine meals taste very good, with moist, tender chicken or shrimp; fresh-tasting, crisp vegetables; and al dente pasta or rice in flavorful sauce. Drawbacks among lower-rated products include soggy coatings or herbs that taste dehydrated.

We found that you can't just shop by brand. Contessa's Sesame Chicken is the best Asian chicken dinner we tested, but its MicroSteam Chicken Florentine is the lowest-rated Italian chicken dinner. And although P.F. Chang's makes a very good Shrimp Lo Mein, its Sweet and Sour Chicken is just OK.

You'll have to choose carefully to avoid loads of fat and sodium. Bertolli Chicken Florentine & Farfalle, for example, has 31 grams of fat per serving (17 of those are saturated fat) and 1,070 milligrams of sodium (the recommended daily limit is 2,300 milligrams). On the plus side, most of the meals have 3 to 5 grams of fiber, and servings weigh about 8 to 12 ounces, so most aren't skimpy. (Most packages contain 2 or 2.5 servings; Birds Eye Chicken Florentine has 3.)

The meals usually take 6 to 17 minutes to prepare. We cooked them as recommended (on the stove, except Contessa MicroSteam chicken, which requires microwaving). Some meals are simpler to make than others. With P.F. Chang's and Bertolli, for example, you just empty the contents into a pan and heat. Others require water or oil, or have you heat rice or pasta separately.

Prices per package range from $3.84 to $8.09. Per serving, meals cost $1.28 to $4.05, definitely cheaper than takeout.

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