Best and Worst Microwave Dinners: Save Time without Sacrificing your Health

unhealthy microwave dinner on a beautiful table top

Pre-packaged meals, more commonly known as microwave dinners, have a dichotomous reputation. On one hand, they are convenient, easy to prepare and you get a meal in a matter of minutes. On the other hand, a huge chunk of those available in the market are not so healthy. However, healthy ones do exist—if you know where and how to look.

Pros and Cons of Microwave Dinners

Pre-made meals are available everywhere from groceries, to restaurants and cafes, to online sellers. Here are some pros and cons of microwave dinners you may want to consider.

Pros:

  • Quick and easy to prepare
  • Time-saving and energy-saving
  • More gourmet than what was previously available
  • Wide variety of meal options

Cons:

  • Extra preservatives
  • Lower amount of nutrients
  • Portion sizes aren’t always consistent
  • Microwaving can dry food out easily

woman starting a microwave to heat up her microwave dinner

What to Look for When Buying the Best Microwave Dinner Options

With the pros and cons in mind, here’s a short list to refer to when you’re buying the best microwave dinners:

  • Calories: 250 (light meal) to 600 (full meal)
  • Saturated fat: under 4 grams
  • Fiber: at least 5 grams of fiber
  • Fat: 10–18 grams
  • Sodium: Less than 800 milligrams
  • Protein: 10–20 grams
  • Vitamins/minerals: at least 10% of the recommended daily value (says on box)

The Healthiest Microwave Dinners

Here are some handpicked healthy microwave dinner brands and their best options:

Amy’s: Gluten Free Cheddar Burrito

Nutrition: 260 calories; 9g protein; 430 mg sodium; 9g fat; 37g carbs

Kashi: Mediterranean Thin Crust Pizza

Nutrition: 290 calories; 15g protein; 640 mg sodium; 9g fat; 37g carbs

Evol: Fire Grilled Steak

Nutrition: 400 calories; 20g protein; 520 mg sodium; 18g fat; 40g carbs

Healthy Choice: Lemon Pepper Fish

Nutrition: 330 calories14g protein530 mg sodium4g fat59g carbs

Lean Cuisine: Asparagus & Cheese Ravioli

Nutrition: 260 calories; 9g protein; 610 mg sodium; 7g fat; 40g carbs 

Luvo: Chicken & Harissa Chickpeas

Nutrition: 310 calories; 19g protein; 460 mg sodium; 12g fat; 32g carbs

healthy microwave dinner option

Smart Ones: Slow-Roasted Turkey Breast

Nutrition: 210 calories; 22g protein; 690 mg sodium; 5g fat; 22g carbs 

Saffron Road: Thai Basil Chili Tofu with Basmati Rice

Nutrition: 340 calories; 10g protein; 320 mg sodium; 12g fat; 50g carbs 

Artisan Bistro: Wild Salmon with Pesto, Vegetables, and Brown Rice

Nutrition: 310 calories; 16g protein; 370 mg sodium;18g fat; 21g carbs

Fuel: Chicken Marsala

Nutrition: 660 calories; 95g protein; 690 mg sodium; 10g fat; 40g carbs

The Unhealthiest Brands

On the flip side, here are some not-so-healthy brands you may want to shy away from.

Marie Callender’s: Cheesy Chicken & Bacon Pot Pie

Nutrition: 1040 calories; 32g protein; 1480 mg sodium; 62g fat; 82g carbs

Stouffers: Fettuccini Alfredo

Nutrition: 630 calories; 15g protein; 840 mg sodium; 35g fat; 63g carbs

Banquet: Extra Helping Salisbury Steak Dinner

Nutrition: 646 calories; 2,363 mg sodium; 5g fat

Jimmy Dean: Breakfast Bowls – Pancakes and Syrup and Sausage Links

Nutrition: 710 calories; 1,000 mg sodium; 34g fat

Hungry Man: Country Fried Chicken

Nutrition: 960 calories; 18g protein; 2,869 mg sodium; 45g fat; 54g carbs


With the high demand for pre-made and microwavable meals increasing, exposure to them is inevitable. As such, it’s wise to make informed decisions and find products with good quality and the best nutrition available. But it’s important to remember that even when selecting the healthiest of microwave dinners, it’s best to limit the number of times you consume these meals and try to eat fresh foods whenever you can.

About the Author

Josh Miles is a St. Petersburg/Tampa based writer who studied Business Management and Marketing at the University of South Florida. He believes that time spent with good friends and a connection with nature are keys to a healthy and happy life. In his free time, you will find him exercising, listening to music, or playing video games with friends.
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