Whether you're trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, or you just don't have the time or inclination to cook, packaged diet entrées are a convenient way to enjoy comfort foods in portion-controlled single servings that help eliminate the risk of overeating. But don't make the mistake of considering all of them a meal in themselves, even though the package illustrations may suggest that they are. Many have so few calories that you may need to add extra food, even if you're on a diet, to get adequate nutrition.
Do they taste good? It turns out they often do, according to our tests. One explanation might be the increasing demand among consumers for natural ingredients and fewer additives, according to Phil Lempert, a food-marketing expert and editor of Supermarket Guru. "You look at the ingredients now and there's real food in there," he says.
Our trained sensory panelists rated the taste quality of 24 microwaveable meals—22 frozen and two shelf-stable—from leading brands such as Healthy Choice, Lean Cuisine, and Weight Watchers. We also evaluated the nutrition information for each meal based on its label.