Choosing Kidney-Friendly Convenience Foods

Frozen meals, or “T.V. dinners” as they were once called, were first introduced in the U.S. in the 1950s. These frozen meals on trays were convenient for busy families because they were easy to pop in the oven and enjoy 30 minutes later. A typical frozen meal included meat in gravy, corn, peas or other vegetables, and mashed potatoes.

Today, our options for convenience foods are nearly endless. Frozen, microwavable meals are still popular, with many varieties ranging from classic comfort foods to plant-based meals. With so many choices, it can be hard to know which frozen meals are kidney-friendly, and which you should limit or avoid.

Reading Food Labels

One good way to see whether a food might fit into your kidney diet is by reading the Nutrition Facts and ingredients list on the food package. Many frozen meals are packed with sodium, which should be limited for everyone—not just people with chronic kidney disease (CKD).It’s helpful to read the food labels for guidelines for protein, sodium, potassium and phosphorus content, rather than just looking at the picture or description. Aim for 15 to 17 grams or more of protein, 600 mg or less of sodium, and less than 700 mg of potassium for a meal.

Phosphorus can be hard to identify in ingredients lists because it’s sometimes written as other terms. Watch the short video below where DaVita dietitian Ramiro explains how to spot hidden phosphorus in an ingredients list.

To learn more about reading food labels, check out “Food Label Reading: Become the Expert” on the Kidney Diet Tips blog. 

Kidney-Friendly Frozen Meal Choices

Here are some examples of types of frozen meals that may be kidney-friendly, depending on your specific needs:

  • Grilled chicken and noodles
  • Chicken linguini
  • Beef and broccoli
  • Chicken with fried rice
  • Panini-style meals

Frozen meals are portion-controlled, which is helpful. It’s important to understand the guidelines for a healthy meal that fits into a kidney-friendly diet; this is key when making choices at the grocery store. 

Food Delivery and Eating Out

On top of frozen meals, we now also have more options when it comes to food delivery services and eating out. Technology and smartphones have made it easier than ever to find a restaurant nearby and order food to be delivered to your home in less than an hour.

Even though the process of getting the food can be easy and convenient, it can still be hard for people with CKD to know which menu items are kidney-friendly. Use DaVita’s free Eating Out Guides to help you make smart food and drink choices so you can enjoy your favorite restaurants or delivery places. The cuisine-specific guides include American, Chinese, Mexican, Latin American, Coffee and Dessert, and many more. Start using the Eating Out Guides today!

Looking for more quick, easy meals?

Try these recipes, tips and cookbooks for tasty, kidney-friendly meals that can be adjusted to fit your specific kidney diet.

7 Easy Meal Ideas
Simple Summertime Menus for a Kidney Diet
14 Tips to Stock a Kidney-Friendly Kitchen
Free kidney-friendly cookbooks


This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice. Consult your dietitian or physician for the specific diet that is right for you as diet guidelines vary for each individual based on health condition, diagnosis and many other factors.