Are you constantly on the go? Because of your busy schedule, do you often find yourself eating pre-packaged meals instead of home-cooked dinners? There’s nothing wrong with buying pre-made meals, but there are a few things you should be aware of. Just because the packaging says “healthy” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you.
Grocery stores contain a variety of foods that are nutritious, but if you're not careful you might be picking up items that make you fatter, not fitter.
More: Decoding Fat and Calories on a Nutrition Label
Below are 10 common pre-packaged meals that should be avoided...and a healthier alternative for each one.
Healthy Choice Roasted Sesame Chicken
When you hear the word "healthy" you would think that the food you're about to consume is low-fat and low in sodium. However, the Healthy Choice Roasted Sesame Chicken isn’t that healthy for you. This frozen meal contains 470 milligrams of sodium, 440 calories and 23 grams of sugar. You could eat three Krispy Kreme donuts to consume the same amount of fat, calories and sugar.
A better option: Kashi Southwest Style Chicken
Pasta Roni's Fettuccine Alfredo
A side dish should never contain as much calories as the main course. Pasta Roni's Fettuccine Alfredo packs a whooping 450 calories and has the equivalent amount of sodium as 97 Cheez-Its®. Plus, this side dish has two days worth of trans fat and almost 2/3 of your daily sodium allowance. Obviously, Alfredo sauce in a side dish isn't the best choice, but this definitely takes the cake. In fact, you’re able to eat a few slices of cake and still come out better than you would if you consumed this side.
A better option: Pasta Roni Butter and Herb Italiano
More: 9 Natural Foods to Avoid
Marie Callender's Southern Pecan Pie
For someone who’s watching their weight, pie usually isn’t in their diet. However, everyone’s human and every now and again it’s OK to give into cravings. If your craving is pie, then be sure to stay away from Marie Callender's Southern Pecan Pie. Just one slice of this dessert is enough trans-fat for three days and contains the same amount of sugar as in 97 M&M's.
A better option: Sara Lee Oven Fresh Pumpkin Pie
Lunchable With Juice and Nacho Cheese Dip and Salsa
Kids love to eat whatever tastes good. Unfortunately, whatever tastes good isn't always good for the body. As the parent (or adult in charge), it's your job to pick healthy alternatives. When thinking of a quick snack for your little ones, Lunchables usually is a golden choice, right? Wrong. Take a look at the ingredients list for the Lunchable with Juice and Nacho Cheese Dip and Salsa. Most of the ingredients are unpronounceable. That's the first bad sign. The second bad sign is that this snack contains 850 grams of sodium and 450 calories. If the food you serve your kids is all about taste, you're better off feeding them six hot dogs than giving them this kind of Lunchable.
A better option: Lunchable Fruit, Ham and American Cracker Stackers
More: 3 Ways to Get Kids to Snack Healthy