Lean Cuisines – Good or Bad?

I love Lean Cuisine dinners.  They are easy to prepare and they are healthy… aren’t they?

A common complaint of frozen and canned foods is excessively high salt levels but what about the other nutritional aspects? As an example I’ll take a look at the Lean Cuisine I had for dinner tonight.  Five Cheese Rigatoni.  This is a middle of the road dinner, some have higher fat, some have lower.

First the Nutrition Facts.  For our 10 oz (283g) serving we have – 350 Calories, 9 g of fat (4 g Sat), 15 mg cholesterol (6% DV), 650 mg sodium (27% DV), 370 mg Potassium (11% DV), 51 g Carb (17% DV), 4 g Fiber (16% DV), 8 g sugars, 15 g Protein.   10% Vitamin A, 8% Vitamin C, 20% Calcium, 15% Iron.

I try to go low fat when I can, but as I’ve read several places, Calories are Calories and 350 is really low compared to something I could get outside the house.  A lot of the nutrition comes from the cheese, the Calcium, the protein but also the fat and salt. The sodium is high, but the rest of the nutritional numbers aren’t too bad in my opinion.

The other good thing on the label is the ingredients list.  Being that the meal is frozen until cooked, it’s not packed full of a lot of chemical preservatives or stabilizers.  In fact the only unusual ingredient is the thickening agent zanthan gum, which is produced by fermentation of sugars by bacteria, so I’ll let you decide if that’s natural or not.  It’s used in such a tiny amount (it’s the next to last ingredient on the list).  The rest of the ingredients, pasta, water, tomatoes, cheeses, whey, whey protein, sugar, salt etc are all pretty standard (and readable in English).

Simple Yes, Cheap Yes, Easy to Prepare, Yes… Healthy? What do you think? Personally I think if I can get a filling, satisfying meal for 250-350 calories I’m all for it.



  1. I’m going with healthy. I eat them all the time. And that amount of sodium is nothing compared to what’s in soup! I just started paying attention to sodium, and one of those campbell’s chicken noodle or tomato bowls for the microwave has 67 percent of your daily sodium. Ridiculous. So LC isn’t that bad 🙂

    • Yeah, Danielle is worried about my blood pressure even though at last check it was fine she wants me to watch my sodium intake. We do have a family history of it, so I do need to watch it, but for now I should be ok.

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  • About Me

    I am a recent graduate in Food Science (NC State, 2009) and I work for a major food manufacturing company. I love food, but I can no longer eat anything that crosses my path. About 24 months ago I begin a serious struggle to get my obesity under control and reduce my chances of developing Type II diabetes. Since September of '09 I have lost 50 pounds and I still have a long ways to go. I've started eating better and exercising more, including taking up running.