Frozen foods have been around since the mid 1900s, and frozen dinners often include high amounts of salt and fat to retain their texture. The average adult in the U.S. eats a frozen meal about six times a week. Frozen dinners consist of different cuisines, with Mexican, Italian and Oriental cuisine on the rise.
Swanson released the first frozen dinner in 1953, a turkey dinner with cornbread stuffing, sweet potatoes and peas. Frozen dinners originally came in aluminum containers that consumers heated up in the oven. Frozen meals became microwavable shortly after the invention of the microwave in the 1960s. There are low-fat and healthy versions of frozen meals available, but they still use hydrogenated vegetable oils, also known as trans fats, to stabilize the foods while they are frozen.
To find high-quality frozen goods, look at the package label. If it says "IQF,” then it was individually quick-frozen. This means no air touched the food when it was vacuum-sealed, which indicates it has better texture and taste. Pay close attention to the nutritional facts to determine the amount of sugars, trans fats and sodium in the food. Also, check the ingredients for signs of whole grains and natural ingredients.