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Consumer Reports finds tasty, healthier frozen meals

March 22, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
In this time-starved world, it's hard to get a home-cooked dinner on the table at night, but that doesn't mean you have to go hungry. Consumer Reports evaluated 19 frozen convenience meals from brands like Contessa, Birds Eye and Stouffer's.

All of them could be prepared in under 20 minutes, either in a stovetop, skillet or a microwave.

"Most of the meals we looked at were complete, with chicken or shrimp, vegetables, and usually pasta or rice," said Ellen Klosz of Consumer Reports.

But are they meals you'd enjoy? Trained sensory panelists evaluated them for both taste and nutrition.

"There were many good, healthy choices, but it's important to check the nutrition label, because there were some meals that were high in fat and sodium," Klosz said.

The Contessa Sesame Chicken is a Consumer Reports Best Buy for around $2.50 a serving. It scored "very good" for both taste and nutrition, with fresh-tasting vegetables and tender chicken.

For even less, another good choice is Birds Eye Voila Chicken Florentine. It has firm penne pasta and fresh-tasting spinach and yellow squash. It costs just $1.28 per serving.

Either would be a good alternative to takeout.

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