In a perfect world, we would all farm our own ingredients and cook each meal from scratch before sitting down at a dining table with friends and family to enjoy the delicious, nutritious food. It's tough to even write a sentence like that without laughing. Maybe because, even as a sports dietitian with a personal and professional investment in fueling bodies for optimal health and performance, I just pulled a container out of the freezer, popped it in the microwave and plan to eat it while typing this article.
We may not live in a perfect world, but with the food options available right now, it actually isn't so bad. If frozen meals make you think of bland TV dinners or family style comfort food, it's time you revisit this grocery section. With the ability to lock in nutrients and reduce food waste, the freezer aisle has been revamped into a trendy, health-driven space.
- Sweet Earth Veggie Lover’s Pizza: What athlete doesn’t love pizza? This frozen pizza sneaks carrot, cornmeal and chia into the crust for a nutritional bonus. Without fatty, greasy cheese or meat toppings, this option makes for a good carb loading option that won’t put extra stress on the gut.
- Evol Uncured Ham, Egg & Cheddar Breakfast Sandwich: Don’t leave home without breakfast! This option will help you start the day with a filling 14 grams of protein to help give lean tissue a boost after the overnight fasting period. It’s great for pairing with a fruit and yogurt or as a quick post-workout refueling option.
- LUVO Performance Kitchen So Cal Kale & Bean: LUVO has recently revamped its line to include options that help facilitate a healthy and active life. This specific variety is full of plant-based protein with 11 grams of fiber. Great for a filling, nutritious meal on a rest day.
- Daily Harvest Cacao & Avocado: Avocado in your smoothie? It’s a great way to add creaminess and healthy fats that will help you recover and feel satisfied after a hard workout. There’s also zucchini and pumpkin seeds hidden in there for an added nutrient boost. Simply add your smoothie cup to a blender with your choice of liquid and protein powder, blend and sip!
- Amy’s Brown Rice & Vegetable Bowl: This bowl fits about every dietary special need; it’s gluten free, dairy free, lactose free, tree nut free, vegan, kosher and plant based. Basically, it’s just real rice, veg and tofu.
- WildScape Togarashi Beef: This line of frozen meals all have small ingredient lists of whole foods, herbs and spices. The Togarashi beef makes a great post-workout option due to the iron-rich beef with vegetables and wheat berries. Fermented miso provides a big flavor with a gut health boost.
- Bonafide Provisions Butternut Squash Soup: Not many athletes have the time to simmer their own bone broths, and thanks to these frozen packs you don’t have to. This variety uses the natural sweetness of butternut squash to help mask the meatiness of the bone broth. Use this as a base for rice, pasta or vegetables, or sip it on its own pre or post workout for a satisfying collagen boost.
- Diana’s Bananas Dark Chocolate Covered Bananas: These are pretty self-explanatory. Grab one for a healthier dessert option or eat as a pre-workout meal to give your body the little carbohydrate boost it needs.
Athletes are busy, and needing to skip extensive meal prep is not an excuse to grab chips from the pantry or dial up take-out. Stocking your freezer with these options can help you stay nourished and fueled when that perfect-world scenario just isn't a reality. Many ranking systems will base "healthy" on specific guidelines of calorie, sugar, sodium or protein. However, athletes have needs that differ from the general public. Instead of adhering to strict nutrient limits, look for meals that use whole ingredients and fit the performance timing you need.
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