What would you say if I told you I never buy packaged foods?
Maybe…that I’m crazy?!
Or maybe, I have way too much time on my hands?
Perhaps, you would think I just really LOVE to cook.
You may even imagine I’m some kind of super-human. (I can assure you this especially is not the case.)
No need to imagine any more crazy scenarios because I’m telling you right now, if there is an easy way I will take it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love to bake from scratch and cook most of our meals with simple ingredients. However, this doesn’t mean they are complicated, take hours, or don’t involve packaged foods.
Eating healthy can be as simple as you make it. Seriously. And let me tell you, for the past 6 months (since that first moment I experienced morning sickness eating one of these spicy turkey quinoa meatballs) cooking has been such a chore that 1 of 2 things has happened most nights:
- My superhero husband cooked a scrumptious meal of which he didn’t determine what it would be until RIGHT BEFORE dinner in order to give the best possible chance I would be able to eat it.
- We utilized packaged and “quick” foods to their full potential to still create healthy quick meals.
SO, let me put to rest those thoughts that tell you eating healthy has to be complicated, time-zapping, and perfect…it doesn’t! Choose today to make it SIMPLER for you and your family so that you can consistently do it.
This list of guilt free packaged foods includes both “always” foods and “sometimes” buys for us. Maybe, the “sometimes” aren’t my preference, but they are what WORKS for us when life feels too busy. OR, when other priorities simply outweigh whipping up pancakes from scratch.
Now, read through this list and figure out how you can make eating healthier easier and fit into your life better today.
Guide to Guilt Free Packaged Foods
Breakfast Convenience Ideas
I love to make pancakes and waffles from scratch and we do often as it honestly doesn’t take much time. However, when life is busier than homemade pancakes allow or you simply want to spend a few less minutes in the kitchen, Kodiak Cakes are a great convenience item. There are several different varieties; they have a short ingredient list; consist of whole grains; and they taste great! Many grocery stores carry them now, but they always seem to be easy to find at Super Target or Amazon.
Kodiak cakes also have minimal added sugar (usually in the form of brown sugar or dried honey depending on the variety.) Casey loves these Kodiak Power Cakes – they are the protein packed variety (extra protein in the form of whey protein) and he will even whip them up on weekdays. They feature 14 grams protein per serving and only 3 grams of sugar! The basic mix features 7 grams protein and 2 grams sugar.
Oatmeal can be cooked in a hurry and almost anywhere! If you’re trying to decide which kind of oats to buy check out my Complete Guide to Oats. Spoiler alert: Just be sure not to buy the instant oats that are loaded with sugar.
I generally choose other easy breakfast ideas beside cereal. However, this doesn’t mean I never eat cereal. In fact, something about pregnancy has had me loving cereal. Ezekiel (also my beloved favorite bread brand) makes several different cereals and their basic Sprouted Grain Crunchy Cereal features sprouted grains and no sugar. Top it with fresh fruit to add a little extra flavor and sweetness!
Last Minute Packable Lunch Entrees
If you are looking for ultimate convenience, buy the tuna packets which can literally be eaten on the spot and even come in a variety of flavors. However, even canned tuna is very fast and convenient and can be mixed into a delicious tuna salad at home. We love this wild planet canned tuna for regular use, but do buy other brands such as starkist in the packets when we travel.
Applegate Deli Meats
Deli meats aren’t always the best choice since they are loaded with preservatives and nitrites. However, Applegate has various deli/cold cut products that are free of nitrites/nitrates and can be worked into a healthy lunch either topped on a salad, in a wrap or sandwich, or even on top of crackers (homemade lunchable style.)
Dinner in a Flash:
Sure, dry beans may be a little less expensive and might seem like an optimal choice. However, canned beans can be a dinner saver on a busy night! They can be mixed in soups, topped on a quick taco salad, or used to make a vegetarian quesadilla. If you are worried about BPA in the can, BPA free cans are becoming easier to find at some grocery stores.
Frozen Sweet Potato Fries
Frozen sweet potato fries make for a really quick side that can quickly be thrown in the oven and are perfect served along homemade burgers, meatballs (such as these turkey quinoa meatballs), and even a more traditional dinner to add a twist to your starchy vegetable.
Frozen Chopped Vegetables ( Onions, Green peppers, and Mirepoix (carrots, celery, and onions)
These are perfect to use in soups, stews, and other dinners to help cut down on the preparation time.
Frozen Steamable Vegegables
I mentioned these last week in my post on Ways to Get In More Veggies. They make this list, too, as frozen vegetables really simplify cooking and can easily cut down on preparation time.
Snacks and Miscellaneous
Homemade Lara bars are delicious and when I used to have more time on my hands I would make them. However, it’s been over a year since I’ve made a batch and that’s fine because the packaged version is perfect! I especially love Lara Bars‘ minimal ingredient list (usually between 3 and 5, all of which are recognizable foods).
Peanut butter will never stop making my food lists. It simple, inexpensive, and is easily packable. You can buy it by the jar or by the packet.
Yogurt or Kefir
Yogurt is a fast snack and kefir can be even more convenient since it’s drinkable. So, for a breakfast on the go (in the car or while your’e working), kefir might be a perfect fit for you! With either of these watch for added sugars and artificial sweeteners. We generally buy plain and add our own mix ins, but Siggi’s is another great option that is already sweetened (minimally)! (Updated Yogurt Guide is coming soon!)
Ready to Eat Fruit
Apples, oranges, plums, apricots, fresh berries, and bananas are all basically ready to eat when you buy them (after a quick washing, of course.) Other fruits such as melon can be bought precut. Frozen fruits can easily be worked into other quick foods too, such as in oatmeal or as yogurt topping.
Jerky that doesn’t have preservatives and additives is also becoming easier to find. KRAVE jerky is great because it’s easy to find at almost any local grocery, even Walmart and sometimes at gas stations.
Guilt Free Packaged Foods
Hopefully that helps you stock your grocery list this week for success. Maybe it gives you some fresh ideas or even helps you to overcome guilt that unless it’s “perfect” it won’t work. So go now and buy some easy packaged foods like Kodiak Cakes, Lara Bars, or steamable veggies that you can easily put to use for quick snacks and in fixing your QUICK and HEALTHY family meals. Then, after dinner you’ll have time to spend with your kids, a good book, or an extra 30 minutes of sleep (yep, thats me.) 😉
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