I recently had the honor of being interviewed by an amazing friend for her podcast, Follow Your Kind. You can hear that interview here. One of the key things we talk about is what kindness means to us. My definition centered on being kind to ourselves and I think that can apply to setting expectations. As a dietitian, I have the knowledge and skills to prep my meals, plan menus, and cook my own versions of things (like bagels and dehydrated fruit sans sugar). But, you know what? That stuff takes a LOT of time. With my new schedule, I’ve got more time to get to the gym, hang out with Tim, plan my wedding, etc. etc. I am not in the head space I need to be to be fully prepping meals. And that’s OK.
When I feel a pang of guilt for not prepping a lunch and opting for a frozen version instead, I remember that the frozen meal I’ve chosen has ALL whole food ingredients, too! And I didn’t have to make it! Or season it! Or do dishes! (On the dishes part, I do recognize that I am generating waste but I recycle as much as possible and only use re-usable utensils.) Anyways, letting whole foods like fruit and nuts be my breakfast instead of home-made bagels and a hummus is not only keeping my meals whole-food, and plant-based, it’s also saving my sanity.
If you’ve relied on frozen meals in the past, you may know that they are either lacking in size, flavor, or chock-full of sodium, saturated fat, and questionable meat. I want to share some of my favorite ready-made meal companies so you know where to turn if you aren’t feeling like prepping all your lunches either.
Anyways, be kind to yourself, set REASONABLE expectations, and trust that you aren’t alone.
Here’s my list of fave, whole-food, plant-based, frozen meal brands for lunch:
These are found in every grocery store (and a few CVS and quick marts I’ve been in). They offer real ingredients, a wide variety of meals, a few vegan cheese options (if you’re jonesin’), and a cheeseless pizza to die for. They also clearly mark their dairy-free versions of things which are so nice and easy. And at $3.99 to $4.50 per meal, they are budget friendly.
I have found Sweet Earth in Target, Publix and Kroger but not as abundantly as Amy’s. It’s a shame, too, because when you can find their bowls, I recommend you get them. They are inventive, and delicious, and easy. With a Japchae bowl and a Moroccan Tagine, I was floored. That isn’t even the half of their delicious items. They also offer awesome breakfast burritos with scrambled tofu instead of egg, and lunch-y burritos with curry and a good kick. It’s a huge shift from the plain ol black bean rice burritos that are usually available for the veg pop. They do offer some options with real cheese, a few with eggs, and some with faux meat but I don’t see those very often. They also have refrigerated veggie patties (much larger than the Dr. Praeger’s or Amy’s) and I find them near the tofu. Highly recommend.
This is a new one I came across in a Publix I never go to but I was so impressed by the packaging and descriptions that I bought 4. I thought the texture and composition was great but there was a lack of flavor in most. Nothing that a little Sriracha or Peri Peri sauce couldn’t fix but I was at work and didn’t have any of that :( The one I did really like, as it was, was Garden Sesame Noodles. This one was so good I am going to keep working my way through their offerings (and as I can find them). Recommend but have a sauce or seasoning on stand by.