TV Dinners

Recently, my Health class teacher showed us the documentary Super Size Me!After watching the experiment puke his guts out after eating a lot of McDonald’s food and calculating necessary calorie intakes, I realize how important it is to eat healthy, especially for someone like me who is currently battling something like gastritis. My 12 year old brother (13 in November) picked out 3 different dinners for lunch. He chose fried chicken (probably from Banquet), swedish meatballs from Boston Market, and boneless pork rib from Hungry-Man. All together, they were about 2352 Calories. At my brother’ proposed weight (105 lbs), he is supposed to get 1906 Calories a day from all of the food he eats (which includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and in-between meals). Not that I was not guilty of that act when I was his age, but I know better now. I ate a Smart Ones beef pot roast (190 Calories), a handful of grape tomatoes (I don’t know the Calories for that, don’t ask me), Green Machine Naked juice, two White Castle sandwiches, and various bites from my brother’s food (you know, to help him with the Calories). Earlier that day, I ate a small sandwich filled with eggs cooked with herbs and shrimp (and those same eggs for breakfast). For dinner, I do not remember eating a substantial meal because I was full from late lunch.

Anyway, when I was choosing a meal to eat (which was a long process), I tried to look for one with the lowest amount of Calories possible. I assumed it would taste good. Here is how I would rank the meals.

Cheapest (low cost, but contains many Calories. You know, junk food)-

Banquet– Those pot pies can be addicting. The crust is quite delectable, but that whole, small pie? It can have 430 Calories. What is quite fishy is that Banquet does not display many nutrition facts on its website. (Typically $1/box)

Michelina’s– These don’t even taste good. This brand is how I met the most disappointing bunch of mac n cheese. Though the Calorie count in most of these meals are relatively low, why would you suffer by eating these tasteless meals? (Typically $1/box)

Hungry-Man– Known for their larger portions of food, these bad boys (as if food could actually have a gender, excluding testicle ceviche) also bring larger amounts of Calories and sugar. Not many of their meals offer anything less than 500 Calories. I cannot deny I grew up on these babies, though. (Around 3-4 boxes/$10)

Marie Callender’s– Though these have much less Calories than Hungry-Man, on average, they still have more than 300 Calories a meal. The fat content is not as desirable, either, but at least it’s not H-M. (Typically $3.50/box)

Better (Lower calories/serving, lower sugar)-

Healthy Choice– My favorite is the steamed beef merlot. The vegetables taste fresh, and the sauce compliments whatever taste is present in the tender pieces of meat. Trust me, this is the brand to buy. They offer so many meals and desserts under 300 Calories. The sugar content for the meals is quite low (Beef merlot has 4g of sugar and 4g of fat). (Typically $3.50/box)

Stouffer’s– There is something about their stuffed peppers that get my family salivating 24/7 for them. Those are the best things on earth. Plus, they’re 190 Calories a pepper, but they have 7g of sugar. Not too bad… (About $3/box)

Lean Pockets (But not Hot Pockets)- These ones get tricky. There are 2 servings in a box, so if you are anything like me, you’ll end up eating both of them. The nutrition facts represent only one of the “pockets”. So, it is much better to eat Lean Pockets than Hot Pockets. (When comparing Pepperoni Pizza, you’ll notice the Lean version has much less sodium, fat, Calories from fat, and sugar while going up points in protein and carbohydrates.) (Typically $2.50/box)

Smart Ones– I just tried this brand for the first time with their Beef Pot Roast tray (190 Calories). I enjoyed it, though it was a small portion comparable to Kid Cuisine. Most of the entrees have very low amounts of sugar, excluding their pineapple dish, which has 15g, but it has pineapple. This brand is comparable to Healthy Choice. (About $3/box)

Just not worth it-

Boston Market– The Calorie counts for the restaurant look (and probably taste) so much better than the frozen meals. Additionally, these have loads of fat and sugar, depending on the meal. (About $4/box)

Kid Cuisine– The Calories in these meals are not as bad, but there is not as much food in these trays, either. Additionally, a small meal, which includes the various desserts, can have over 10g of sugar and fat. The calories in these are comparable to Marie Callender’s, but at least with MC, there is more food to eat. (Typically $3/box)

If there is anything that cannot be escaped from the brands, however, it is the large amount of sodium in each meal. Keep in mind that these portions are relatively small, so if you, reader, were to eat these for a meal, you’ll probably end up eating two trays worth. Assuming you are an inactive female who weighs 150lbs, you’ll need to eat 2145 Calories per day to maintain your weight (and by you, I mean me). Consider splitting this up into 3 main meals and a couple of snacks and drinks here and there.

Here’s a comparison of a common meal that most of those brands have- Salisbury Steak.

Banquet

Michelina’s

Healthy Choice

Stouffer’s

Hungry-Man

Boston Market

Marie Callender’s

Lack of Salisbury Steak, here’s Philly Cheese Steak from Lean PocketsHot Pockets

Smart Ones

tl;dr eat well, if you can

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3 thoughts on “TV Dinners

  1. I never eat tv dinners. You should ALWAYS cook rather than go out and buy food since you can control what you put in your meals. Those labels don’t always put in all the nutritional facts. There is a lot more to being healthy than just calories. However I do think it’s good that you are self conscious about picking out better food. Just remember, it’s always better to eat healthy rather than paying attention to your weight(i.e watching calories).

    • Thank you for your input. I know it’s vital to eat food from all food groups (and consider other factors in our meals), but when calories can add up quickly for a 2-3 course TV dinner meal, I think it is important to watch the calorie intake. Also, my family tries our best not to eat TV dinners, but we eat them when my mom, who usually cooks fresh food, is too busy or sometimes when I go to work with my dad, who does not have access to a kitchen but usually eats at restaurants.

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