"TV dinners, they're going to my head/ TV dinners, my skin is turning red/20-year-old turkey in a 30-year-old tin/I can't wait until tomorrow and thaw one out again." In 1981, when ZZ Top sang this, it couldn't have predicted that 30-some years later, the TV dinner would have led Americans into a frozen-meal habit costing $9 billion annually.
Americans eat 31 percent more packaged and frozen food than fresh food. These microwave-meals-in-a-minute often deliver oversized portions, unhealthy fats, excess sodium and nutritionally anemic foods. So when your family sits down for dinner, do you want to dish up a meal from a box, or make a quick, great-tasting, healthy dinner from almost-scratch? (Some shortcuts, like canned tomatoes, are smart and healthy.)
One popular frozen lasagna contains: corn syrup (a ticket to obesity and heart disease), dextrose and sugar (listed three times), which increase your risk for dementia, depression and diabetes; and heavy whipping cream, which is loaded with make-you-age-faster saturated fat. Making your own ground-turkey lasagna with 100 percent whole-grain pasta and low-fat cheese boosts your nutrition immediately. You can find easy-to-make healthy recipes online. Bonus: Leftovers make a second meal inexpensive and easy.
Don't stop there. Many frozen breakfast foods smuggle in heart-damaging trans fats. Opt for whole-grain cereals, nonfat Greek yogurt and berries.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com.