Comparing Healthy Frozen Meals vs Meal Delivery vs Homemade Dinner

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Meal delivery vs freezer meals vs homemade meals. How do they compare between macronutrients, calories and overall taste.

When it comes to balanced eating, our first thought might be, this is going to be a lot of work. From buying groceries, finding recipes and preparing the food, the time adds up.

Companies have tried to capitalize on this by making ready to eat products that just need to be microwaved and even meals shipped right to your door. But the question remains, how do they compare to homemade meals? 

To see if these meals are worth it I tested out quite a few meals. There is a wide selection of frozen individual meals. I selected a variety of those that had vegetables and around 20 grams of protein and were between 350-600 calories.

I also wanted to see how the delivered meal plans compared. Because I was comparing individual ready to eat meals, I tried some of Sunbasket’s fresh and ready meals. 

I like having the control of what goes into my food, from how much salt, the quality of ingredients etc. When it came to comparing these meals it was more than just the calories and macro breakdown.

I wanted to see how they tasted, what was the quality of ingredients, and ultimately if I would swap a homemade meal with one of these. I didn’t expect these to be a homemade meal, but hoped a few would get close. 

Frozen Meals

I tried different brands and a variety of meals. I was surprised with the difference in quality and taste between the ones I tried. The biggest takeaway was the lack of vegetables. It might say it has vegetables, but I doubt there will be many. It’s mostly rice, or pasta. One of my favorites was the ones with rice and beans.

Pros: of frozen meals

  • Good variety of meals
  • Some were smaller portions
  • Ingredients in some were good quality

Cons: of frozen meals

  • Would have liked more vegetables
  • Some were high in salt and added sugar
  • Didn’t like the taste of some

The quality of the meat was definitely different between the different meals. I won’t say it correlated exactly with the price of the meal or the catchy new brands. But I did like those meals more even though they cost $1-2 more per meal. 

The meals ranged about the same in macronutrients except for fat. The two ‘lean’ meals had lower fat. Funny enough those were the ones I liked least. It felt like they used extra strong sauce, and in the two meals I tried were quite sweet with one even having 12g of added sugar. 

Here is my review on the each frozen meal with my favorites first:

Spicy thai bowl with plant based chicken from Tatooed Chef review

  • Lot of sauce 
  • Good flavor
  • Good portion
spicy thai bowl

Love steak with beans and rice

  • Kinda oily
  • Smaller portion
  • Not a ton of meat
  • Would have liked more vegetables
  • Good flavor
sun basket fire grilled steak

Glazed chicken with rice and green beans

  • High in salt
  • Very little vegetable
  • Good amount of meat
  • Lots of sauce 
  • Didn’t like the taste
lean cuisine frozen meal label

Korean style BBQ beef bowl

  • Mostly rice
  • Little vegetables
  • Meat was not very good
  • High in salt
life cuisine frozen meal review

Meal Delivery: Sunbasket Meals

Sunbasket is a meal delivery that has meal prep kits and ready to eat meals. They also let you pause your subscription, so you can order it just when you want them. They had a good variety of pre-made meals to pick from.

Pros:

  • Good variety of meals
  • Some had food separated instead one mixture
  • Meals were filling
  • Good quality of ingredients

Cons: 

  • Would have liked more vegetables
  • Most were high in salt
  • Didn’t like the taste of some
  • Price per meal was higher than some frozen meals

I liked the portion sizes of the meals. They were more filling than the frozen meals, which would make sense, as they were more calories. I like the average portion of protein in the meals. The meals also felt more like a homemade/restaurant dish compared to the frozen ones that were one mixture of the same thing, these the food was more separate, such as the chicken and cauliflower-potato mash, it was separated instead of all mixed together. It made it easier to have less sauce if you wanted.

Overall the meals had more calories and macros, but the ratio of one macro to another was not that much different then some of the frozen meals or the homemade meals. I felt like the average portion was larger than the frozen meals.

 Here were my thoughts on the each meal with my favorites first:

sunbasket chicken tikka

The homemade meals were very simple, only had a few ingredients and overall were pretty filling. They were not as exciting as some of the Sunbasket meals when it comes to flavor, but over all a good basic meal.

  • Flavorful 
  • Decent amount of chicken
  • Very few veggies/ peas carrots 
sunbasket spicy meal

Spicy sichuan glass noodle stir-fry with impossible plant-based beef

  • Large portion
  • Plant based beef tasted good
  • Not to much sauce
sunbasket grilled buffalo

Buffalo chicken over cauliflower-potato mash

  • Good amount of meat
  • Not too much sauce
  • Nice to have food separated
sunbasket shrimp patella

Shrimp Paella

  • Good amount of shrimp
  • Little/no veggies 
  • Good flavor 
  • Mostly rice 
sunbasket meal frozen dinner label

Pork Chile verde over cilantro-cauliflower ‘rice’

  • Strong flavor/lots of sauce
  • Good size portion
  • Decent portion of pork
sunbasket cauliflower mac and cheese
  • Mac and cheese with cauliflower
  • Not a ton of flavor
  • Very cheesy 
  • Smaller portion

Homemade meals

The homemade meals were very simple, only had a few ingredients and overall were pretty filling. They were not as exciting as some of the Sunbasket meals when it comes to flavor, but over all a good basic meal.

homemade healthy meal

Calorie and Macronutrient break down of each frozen dinner and Sunbasket meal

MealsCaloriesFatCarbohydratesProteinFiber
Frozen Meals
Glazed chicken with rice and green beans320741242
Korean style BBQ beef bowl320742213
Fire grilled steak with rice and beans4502244187
Spicy thai bowl with plant based chicken4402638229
SunBasket
Buffalo chicken over cauliflower-potato mash 3801922327
Pork chili verde over cilantro-cauliflower rice3301821248
Spicy sichuan glass noodle stir-fry with impossible plant-based beef4602251158
Shrimp Paella5501180275
Chicken tikka masala4902149286
Cauliflower mac and cheese6102861325
Homemade
turkey with potatoes and kale594287128
tuna sandwich 401193330
chicken with rice and veggies380203825

There were frozen meals and Sunbasket meals I liked and some I didn’t care for. There is room for convenient meals when trying to eat balance and loose or maintain weight. There are a few things I look for in meals like these to see if they will be beneficial to my body and my goals. These questions can help you determine if the meal is right for you.

5 Questions to ask yourself to determine which frozen meal is best for you

  1. What are the macros? Is this something my body needs, do I want more carbohydrates, fat or more protein in this meal?
  2. What’s the ratio of the main ingredients? Is it mostly rice with a few veggies and little meat?
  3. Is the quality of the food what I want for the meal? This one can be hard without seeing the actual food, but normally the picture on the box helps
  4. Are there lots of extra ingredients like preservatives or additives? It’s frozen, there really isn’t a need for many extra ingredients
  5. Would I eat this food if it wasn’t frozen and easy to prepare? Sometimes we eat things that won’t satisfy us just because they’re easy. You should enjoy and be nourished by all your food, even frozen meals.

Having a few convenient meals like frozen ones or Sunbasket meals can help you eat a balanced meal when you have no desire to cook and would probably otherwise just eat the random bag of chips in your pantry. I wouldn’t suggest using them as the majority of your meals but they can be helpful to have on hand when you’re in a pinch and need an easy meal.

Frozen meals vs homemade vs meal delivery
  • The Sunbasket link is an affiliate link. I receive a small commission if you choose to try out their meals.

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