Packaged Foods Can Be Good for Your Health

Eating a whole-food diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, legumes and lean proteins are important for maintaining health and preventing disease. However, certain packaged foods you can buy in the grocery store can be a nutritious part of your diet. 

Some of these packaged or prepped foods may help with time management if you are a busy parent trying to cook healthy meals for your kids, if you work long hours or if you just don’t want to spend as much time in the kitchen.

Here are six packaged or prepped foods you can buy that may help you save time:

  • Pre-cooked whole grains: Cooking whole grains from scratch isn’t difficult, but it can be time consuming.  The grocery store now has pre-cooked grains in pouches that take 90 seconds to cook!  Compare different types to choose lower sodium and higher fiber.
  • Canned fish: Canned fish is an easy way to get your essential omega-3 fats, which have been shown to help reduce inflammation, blood pressure and triglycerides. Tuna, sardines, mackerel and salmon are all great options.
  • Pre-cooked legumes: Dried beans are inexpensive but can take a long time to prepare, so canned beans are a great option for a plant-based protein. Beans are also high in fiber so they will keep you full. Look for tofu and tempeh, soybean foods, that just need to be heated through.
  • Frozen fruits and vegetables: Frozen fruits and vegetables are a nutritious option that can save you money, as they won’t go bad like their fresh counterparts. Picked at peak ripeness and flash-frozen, they may often have more vitamins and minerals than fresh options. Frozen fruit is great in smoothies or used for overnight oats. Frozen onions, cubed butternut squash and chopped carrots can save a lot of prep time.
  • Pre-cut vegetables: If you are not as skilled with a knife or dislike prepping your foods, buying already chopped veggies can save a lot of time, even though you may pay more.
  • Cooked Chicken: Rotisserie chicken can be very high in sodium, but you can choose other pre-cooked chicken options in the meat case and frozen aisle. Still look for the lower sodium options without breading or sauces. Use cooked chicken in salads, wraps or burritos so you can add your own flavors. 

Bridgette Hamby, R.D.N., is the community nutrition educator in the Tevis Center for Wellness.

 

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