A survey conducted in 2011 came up with this result: 90% of Americans eat more than the recommended amount of 2300mg of sodium per day. In fact, close to 3600mg is consumed on average each day. Likewise, Canadians are not far behind, eating about 3400mg a day. Excessive sodium intake is a huge contributor to cardiovascular disease through increased blood pressure, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. This happens because the extra sodium causes the kidneys to retain more water as a counter measure (which in the long run can cause kidney disease).
You may be wondering why this list singles out frozen dinners. This is because frozen dinners are packed with salt. The reason for this is that salt tastes good to us (as does sugar, but that’s a whole different article) and because it’s a preservative. To give you some perspective on some of the amounts of sodium added to frozen dinners (and also which products are more health-conscious), here’s a list of frozen dinners ranked by their sodium content from the highest to lowest.
1. Hungry-Man Home-Style Meatloaf—1660mg
Hungry-Man? More like Salty-AF-Man. This meatloaf contains over half of your daily recommended serving of sodium, from just a third of your meals of the day. At least it has corn.
2. Boston Market Country Fried Chicken—1150mg
Fried chicken in a frozen dinner pack probably means all the grease of normal fried chicken without the promise of its signature crispiness. To compensate for this, Boston Market has loaded their fried chicken with extra salt (ew).
3. Stouffer’s Swedish Meatballs—980mg
I want to forgive this product because meatballs are delicious, but insanely high sodium is borderline unforgivable.
4. Weight Watcher’s Smart Ones Classic Favorites Salisbury Steak—900mg
This low-calorie option is, sadly, not a low-sodium option. I guess you can’t have the best of both worlds.
5. Amy’s Indian Mattar Paneer—780mg
We’re getting to about mid-range for sodium-content here. Amy’s Indian Mattar Paneer is just about a third of the recommended daily serving amount.
6. Weight Watchers Smart Ones Bistro Selection Salisbury Steak—740mg
This is the second Salisbury steak from Weight Watchers on this list. The distinction between the Classic Favorites and Bistro Selection line is lost on me, but I’ll take the 160mg reduction in sodium.
7. Lean Pockets Philly Steak and Low-Fat Cheese with Grilled Vegetables—560mg
The healthier alternative to Hot Pockets are Lean Pockets, and as its name suggests it is a lower calorie, lower fat, and—although not advertised—relatively low sodium option. Looks like they hit three birds with one stone with this product.
8. Healthy Choice Asian-Inspired General Tso’s Spicy Chicken—500mg
If you’ve ever eaten Chinese food, you’ll know that it’s both greasy and salty, which makes this product a wonder. I’m not even sure if you can still call it Chinese food anymore, considering it has lost its characteristic qualities.
9. Lean Cuisine Glazed Chicken—450mg
I’m starting to see a trend now, with the product name including, but not limited to, descriptors like lean and healthy. Looks like low-sodium is often associated with healthier varieties of frozen dinners.
10. Amy’s Black Bean Vegetable Enchilada—390mg
Hilariously enough, the last item on the list doesn’t have the words lean or healthy in its product name, yet actually isn’t terrible for you (at least, not based on sodium content alone).
Next time you eat a frozen dinner, keep the sodium content in mind and look for more health-conscious choices.