GSS: It’s a Frozen Pizza Kind of Night

The other night I was eating dinner at California Pizza Kitchen, and I got to thinking about frozen pizzas and what ingredients are contained in all those varieties in the frozen aisle, and I decided this would make a great Grocery Store Spotlight.  After all, we all have those nights when we’re just too busy or lazy to cook, and frozen pizza is always the go-to dinner for the kids when parents leave them with a babysitter.  I did a lot of babysitting growing up, so I’ve cooked many a frozen pizza in my day, but it wasn’t until now that I wondered what goes into them.

Hint: Your neighborhood pizza joint probably uses healthier ingredients in their pizzas than the big delivery companies like Pizza Hut, Papa John's and Domino's, so go local!

So to keep things simple, I compared the cheese pizzas from some of the most popular frozen pizza brands.  To be honest, I was really discouraged by what I saw.  For example, here are the ingredients in the Digiorno 4 Cheese Pizza (rising crust):

WHEAT FLOUR, WATER, SHREDDED LOW-MOISTURE PART-SKIM MOZZARELLA CHEESE (PART-SKIM MILK, CHEESE CULTURE, SALT, ENZYMES), TOMATO PASTE, SUGAR, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF WHEAT GLUTEN, VEGETABLE (SOYBEAN OIL AND/OR CORN OIL), WHITE CORN MEAL, GRATED PARMESAN, ASIAGO, AND ROMANO CHEESES MADE FROM COW’S MILK (PART-SKIM MILK, CHEESE CULTURE, SALT, ENZYMES), SALT, YEAST, BAKING SODA, SODIUM STEAROYL LACTYLATE, SODIUM ALUMINUM PHOSPHATE, DATEM, SPICE, GARLIC, ASCORBIC ACID, YELLOW CORN MEAL.

Besides the fact that it contains tons of ingredients, many of which I don’t recognize and can’t pronounce, Digiorno uses added sugar, soy and spice (which is label code for MSG).  That earns it The Nutritionista’s thumbs down, which I know is very scary and intimidating to Kraft Foods!

Here is a list of all the brands that do NOT earn my seal of approval.  Click on them to see a complete list of ingredients.

Tombstone: Doesn’t contain a ton of ingredients, but what it does contain is NOT healthy!

Red Baron: Who knew soy came in that many forms?

Tony’s: This brand wins the award for most words I can’t pronounce!

California Pizza Kitchen: I’m so sad to say it, but this brand gets my lowest grade of all!  Too bad because I love CPK’s pizzas!  The cheese pizza contains added sugar, hydrogenated oils, MSG, soy and a whole bunch of other unnecessary ingredients.  Guess I won’t be eating their pizzas anymore!

Ok, so before you start hating me for ruining your frozen pizza experience for good, here are a couple of brands that aren’t too bad by my standards!

Amy’s:  This brand can be found in the natural section of most grocery stores.  It’s a little bit more expensive than the regular brands, but I think it’s worth it to know you’re paying for unbleached flour, all organic ingredients and a high-quality oil and skipping the MSG, hydrogenated and modified foods, soy and added sugars (uses organic honey instead) and preservatives.

Amy's is the nation's leading natural frozen food brand.

Trader Joe’s: Of all the brands I looked at, TJ’s Organic 3 Cheese Pizza gets my ultimate seal of approval.  Like the Amy’s, it is all organic and contains no preservatives, but it also contains very few ingredients (9 ingredients as compared to CPK brand with more than 30 ingredients!) and is reasonably priced ($4.29).

CRUST: ORGANIC WHEAT FLOUR, WATER, SALT, ORGANIC SUNFLOWER OIL, YEAST.  TOPPING: ORGANIC TOMATO SAUCE (tomatoes, water, organic EVOO, salt, oregano), ORGANIC FONTAL, MOZZARELLA AND PARMESAN CHEESE

I suggest adding your own veggies to your Amy's or Trader Joe's pizzas to make them more fresh and nutritious.

If you have a few extra minutes, I think making your own pizza is an even better option because you have complete control over what ingredients you use and everything is fresher.  Trader Joe’s carries a ready-made whole wheat pizza dough for 99 cents, and you can take it home and add a healthy tomato sauce and whatever toppings you like.  I love using big chunks of fresh mozzarella and basil or piling it with veggies.  If you buy a ready-made crust, look closely at the label and make sure it doesn’t contain any of the harmful ingredients I’ve discussed.  I took a quick glance at the ingredients in the Boboli ready-made crust, and it contains more than 20 ingredients, many of them additives and chemicals.

There are tons of frozen pizza brands on the market, and each one makes several different varieties of crusts and toppings, so it’s crucial that we read labels and feed our families the highest quality we can find.

Do you know of any other healthy brands of frozen pizza that I may have missed?  Or, do you have a healthy pizza recipe or topping combo?  If so, share the amore!

10 Comments

Filed under Grocery Store Spotlights

10 responses to “GSS: It’s a Frozen Pizza Kind of Night

  1. Really interesting topic and I was surprised to learn that CPK is the worst offender. I do’t eat pizza very often, but when I do, it is usually from CPK at their restaurant. But not anymore since I’m assuming their in-restaurant kind also has the MSG and other bad stuff in it. I do like Amy’s Pizza and will have to check out the kind at Trader Joe’s too. Thanks!

  2. I know! I’ve always been a CPK fan, but now I’m suspicious of their whole menu! I always get their Thai Crunch salad, so I need to investigate to see what’s going in to it. I’m with you that if they’re using those ingredients in their frozen pizzas, they are probably using them in the restaurant as well.

  3. Ronda

    I’ve been enjoying your blog! I wanted to ask about Newman’s Own Organic Pizzas and Target’s Organic Pizzas (I think it’s called Simply Harvest). I buy these sometimes when they’re on sale for nights when we need a quick meal. We add fresh basil and tomatoes to either the cheese pizza or the margherita kind (not sure what will do when the frost hits and there’s no more home grown herbs and veggies). Do you know about these brands’ content?

    • Hey Mrs. Ronda!
      Here are the ingredients in the Newman’s Own 4-Cheese Pizza: MULTIGRAIN CRUST (WHEAT FLOUR, WATER, VEGETABLE OIL [CORN OIL, EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL], FLAXSEED, YEAST, SUGAR, SALT, WHOLE OAT FLOUR), LOW MOISTURE PART-SKIM MOZZARELLA CHEESE (PASTEURIZED PART-SKIM MILK, CHEESE CULTURE, SALT, ENZYMES), SAUCE (TOMATOES [DICED TOMATOES, TOMATO JUICE], WATER, TOMATO PASTE, EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL, RED WINE VINEGAR, SALT, SUGAR, SPICES, GARLIC*, ONION*), CHEDDAR CHEESE (PASTEURIZED MILK, CHEESE CULTURE, SALT, ENZYMES), PARMESAN CHEESE (PART-SKIM PASTEURIZED COW’S MILK, CHEESE CULTURES, SALT, RENNET), ASIAGO CHEESE (PASTEURIZED PART-SKIM MILK, CHEESE CULTURES, SALT, ENZYMES). *DRIED.

      I don’t see any hydrogenated oils, soy or MSG…which is a good thing! I like that it uses EVOO and a multi-grain crust too. It does use added sugar and contains a lot of ingredients, but all in all this one looks a lot better than all those other brands I looked at.

      As far as the Target brand, just look closely at the label. If you see the words, “modified,” “hydrogenated,” “soy,” “Spice,” “Monosodium Glutamate” or a bunch of words you don’t recognize and can’t pronounce, than skip it!!!

      I hope you’re well and enjoying married life pretty lady!

  4. Kristi

    Trader Joe’s bbq chicken pizza is a staple in our house. it is so yummy!!!

  5. janice hurley

    I was happy to see this frozen pizza blog! My husband and I don’t eat alot of pizza but sometimes we would buy the thin crust (which is a must for us) 4 cheese California pizza kitchen pizza and sometimes add our own mushrooms or veggies but now I won’t buy this one. However, Joanna, do you know if the Amy’s comes in a thin crust version? The Trader Joes looks like thick crust but not sure. I am willing to try any healthier options!!! Thanks for the helpful info!!!!! If you know any healthy thin crust frozen options would you be able to email me! thanks!!!!!!!

    • I was a big fan of CPK too. I’m really disappointed in them for using so many harmful ingredients in their pizzas! I looked on the Amy’s website, but I didn’t see any thin-crust pizzas…too bad! You can buy the TJ’s pizza dough and make it really thin and put your own healthy toppings on it. It only takes a few extra minutes, but I think it’s the healthiest way to go.

  6. I was just raving over Freschetta, but I’m sure that one isn’t very “natural” either!

  7. liza8579

    Great info!! I will be heading to TJ’s its unbelievable how many harmful ingredients are in our food.

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