Braelyn Wood is the Deputy Commerce Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism from Northwestern University, along with a certificate in marketing.
Image by Sean Locke / Stocksy
August 6, 2022
It’s no secret that nutrition plays a huge role in your overall well-being, but crafting delicious, well-rounded meals with all the essential macronutrients is often easier said than done—especially when you’re in a time crunch.
A frozen meal delivery service is an easy way to ensure you always have a convenient, nutrient-packed option on hand. Unlike the frozen meals of your childhood, which are chock-full of excess sodium and preservatives, these modern-day options incorporate fats, proteins, and carbohydrates into a balanced offering that’s bound to leave you feeling recharged and satiated.
Of course, not all frozen meals services offer the same caliber of ingredients or even nutritional content. Before settling for a subpar option that leaves your body (and taste buds) begging for something different, uncover our top picks below, which all prioritize quality, sustainability, and nutrition in every entrée.
The benefits of frozen food.
The most obvious benefit of frozen food is convenience, but it also comes with some unexpected perks. When stored in the freezer, food often has a longer shelf life that prevents it from before you can eat it. This contributes to a reduction of food waste, which is one of the reasons some meal delivery services opt for this transport method.
Plus, freezing certain foods can actually be beneficial when trying to maximize the nutrients in your meals. “It can ‘lock in’ some of the nutrients found in fresh produce, such as antioxidants, whereas they might lose their potency if those foods hung out on the shelf or in the fridge for awhile,” according to registered dietician Jess Cording Jessica Cording, M.S., R.D., CDN.
Just remember that the nutritional value of produce starts to decline after more than a year in your freezer. As a result, Cording recommends a “FIFO” or “first-in-first-out” system, which is practiced in hospital food services. She says this ensures you don’t overcrowd your freezer or accidentally leave a meal in the back of your freezer for too long.
How to pick a nutrient-packed frozen meal, per a registered dietician.
Cording offers a few tips for trying to find healthy frozen food. The first step is scanning the nutrition label to ensure it doesn’t contain excess amounts of sodium or sugar. A food is considered “high-sodium” by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) if it contains more than 20 milligrams of your daily total, while the daily value for added sugars is about 50 grams. She also suggests keeping an eye out for preservatives, such as nitrates or sulfites.
The best way to ensure a frozen entrée works for your preferred eating plan is to review the nutrition label. For Cording, this entails a vegetable forward meal with at least 15 to 30 grams of protein, as well as fibers and healthy fats. If a meal doesn’t meet your desired breakdown, she suggests adding some additional ingredients to meet your goals, such as greens for more veggies, egg for added protein, or half an avocado for more fat.
Don’t want to spend time scanning every meal? Skip to the best frozen meal delivery services, which we’ve already vetted for no preservatives or excess sodium, as well as quality ingredients (i.e. organic or locally sourced).
How we picked
The only similarity between a brand’s entrées should be their nutritional value and convenience—otherwise we want as much variety as possible to keep your tastebuds enthused.
The healthiest eating plan for you depends on dietary preferences and/or allergens. Our picks let you filter for a range of diets or other restrictions.
A longer shelf-life makes frozen meals one of your best bets for buying in bulk and saving, but we also opted for picks in a range of budgets to keep delivery accessible to all.
Individual entrées produce the most waste of any type of meal delivery service. We prioritized brands committed to reducing their footprint with more sustainable food.
mbg’s picks for the best frozen meal delivery service of 2022:
Every recipe released from Mosaic’s kitchen has a secret: it contains at least four veggies to maximize the biodiversity in every bite or sip. The plant-based brand offers a variety of meals and snacks including veggie bowls, soups, and oat bowls—but the best bargain is the family-sized bake. The frozen creations can feed up to four family members with each serving priced at less than $5.
Committed to real ingredients, the brand doesn’t include any artificial ingredients or preservatives in any of its recipes. Every item is vegetarian, but some are also vegan (i.e. they don’t contain any eggs or dairy). Luckily the menu makes it super easy to identify which category the entrée falls into, along with showcasing the key ingredients in a recipe. Plus, on-site icons indicate whether a recipe is made without nuts, sugar, or wheat.
-Italian ‘sausage’ & pumpkin lasagna
-Coconut chickpea curry
Sustainability & Quality: Mosaic’s mission is focused on making healthy food accessible and sustainable; part of the decision to go frozen rather than fresh was to help reduce food waste. Naturally all packaging is curbside recyclable including the box, lining papers, boxes, and trays. The brand also opts for dry ice rather than ice packs to keep goods frozen; it often creates less waste and weighs less than gel, making shipping more efficient.
Extra points? The brand donates two pounds of food to City Harvest for every Mosaic box sold.
Full transparency: Every item shipped in your Splendid Spoon box won’t be frozen. Smoothies, wellness shots, and cold-pressed juices arrived chilled and ready to ship. However the rest of the brand’s plant-based lineup—including the nutrient-rich grain and soup bowls—arrive ready to store in your freezer.
When selecting your box items, you can easily filter for recipes containing less sodium, calories, sugars, or fats, as well as allergens such as sesame, soy, tree nuts, or coconuts. Of course, there’s also the opposite; filters for recipes with more protein and/or more fiber.
The five available plans adjust offerings based on desired meal times and can be delivered weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. You’ll get total control over the items in your box and can choose to skip ingredients that you don’t care for, such as mushrooms, bananas, or spice. Another standout site feature is the key ingredient box, which highlights the nutritional benefit of key ingredients in the recipe.
-Black bean and plantain grain bowl
-Kale pesto noodles
Sustainability & Quality: Every plant-based Splendid Spoon meal is GMO-free; smoothies and wellness shots are 95% organic. Similar to other frozen options, the biggest downside of the company’s product is the amount of packaging produced by each order, but it’s 100% recyclable with the company actively working towards 100% sustainability in all aspects of the business, from growing to distribution.
Along with a full paleo menu, this company prides itself on offering the only meal delivery service that’s also AIP-friendly i.e. part of the autoimmune protocol. Even stricter than the paleo diet, it removes any inflammatory foods, such as eggs, nuts, seeds, and chocolates. As a result, the menu offered by Paleo On The Go is fairly limited and relatively expensive—but it squashes the difficulties of searching for meals without the forbidden ingredients.
Boxes are available with 8, 12, or 16 frozen items available in shipments every 2, 4, or 8 weeks. Each box has its own shipping fee, so we recommend maximizing your order size and including add-ons, such as the bakery items or bone broth. But even if you go small, you shouldn’t have an issue hitting the $99 order minimum, as many items are close to $20.
-Coq au Vin with herb mashed Japanese white sweet potatoes
-Moo shu pork taco kit with AIP-friendly tortillas
Sustainability & Quality: Along with adhering to the Dirty Dozen & Clean 15 list for organic produce, Paleo On The Go follows strict standards for protein, requiring they be raised humanely or wild-caught. Packaging materials follow the same standards; they must be recyclable or compostable.
No commitment (order as you go)
100+ menu items
Meal plans don’t have fixed prices
May need to add protein to maximize macronutrients
While all picks on this list could be categorized as healthy—it’s a subjective term after all—Daily Harvest stands out for delivering recipes designed to maximize the biodiversity of your foods. This allows you to get a wider range of nutrients from a handful of different sources, such as smoothies, chia seed bowls, bakes, and flatbreads.
Meals tend to be on the lighter side, but that’s not a bad thing if you’re partial to doctoring your recipes at home with extra protein-packed toppings, like hummus or shredded chicken. All in all, you’ll get more than 100 different items to choose from with a range of ingredients that are just as diverse.
Select a small, medium, or small box depending on your needs. Prices vary by the items selected, but the brand will send a text the day your order processes, which gives you ample time to change your order if needed (or to cancel altogether).
-Mint and cacao smoothie
-Mulberry and dragon fruit oat bowl
Sustainability & Quality: Daily Harvest prioritizes organic ingredients with a special emphasis on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list. The company also supports farmers and helps new contractors convert to regenerative food systems. Nearly all packaging is recyclable, but a few items must be taken to a local facility to ensure they’re repurposed.
Mealpro takes the guesswork out of meal prep with healthy, balanced recipes available on a budget. The subscription-free services delivers nationwide with delicious meals often priced under $10 per entrée.
The smallest plan starts at 18 entrées per box with an option to shop the curated menus or to create your own meal plan, which entails selecting your desired protein, sides, and toppings. While customization is slightly pricier, it ensures you’re really eating the food you want—and even offers real-time insights into the macronutrient breakdown of your creation. The only downside? The limited menu means meals could start to feel repetitive, especially if you have more limited dietary restrictions.
-Lean beef lasagna
-Alaskan code with yams & string beans
Sustainability & Quality: Mealpro is serious when it comes to sustainability, always using BPA-free plastic and 100% recycled cardboard boxes with insulation made from eco-friendly materials. The carbon-neutral company also donates portion of every sale to the hunger banquet.
All ingredients are GMO-free and sourced from different parts of the world based on season; January through May is Mexico; June through October is California; November through December is Florida. Regardless of source, you can except no refined sugars or artificial preservatives, as well as sustainably sourced seafood and humanely treated proteins (no hormones or antibiotics).
Can you buy frozen meals online?
Yes! Tons of services will delivery frozen meals directly to your door. They’re often shipped with either a gel pack or dry ice to keep them cool. Just remember to check that they arrive at a safe temperature of under 40 degrees Fahrenheit, otherwise they’ll need to be tossed out.
What are the cons of frozen food?
Most frozen entrées need to go into the microwave, which could leave it with an unappealing texture once cooked. Another downside of this cooking method is that it can potentially leave cold spots throughout the meal. Luckily you can always follow the brands reheating instructions to use the oven or stovetop instead, which may reduce counteract these negative (but will likely take longer).
Is frozen food healthy?
The term “healthy” is really subjective based on your own dietary needs and preferences. Most experts would categorize a meal with balanced macronutrients, minimal salt and sugar, and no preservatives as healthy. If that’s the case, you’ll find many frozen food brands ready to deliver, but it really comes down the companies you’re buying from the the ingredients that they include in their meals.
Nothing beats the convenience of frozen foods when you’re trying to get a healthy meal on the table fast. These frozen meal delivery services prioritize nutrient recipes without the excess sodium or preservatives seen in traditional frozen meals. Plus, they’re delivered to your door to save you a trip to the grocery store. What more could you want?