Eating well and cooking from scratch can seem overwhelming when life gets busy and we are short on time. Fortunately, there are plenty of items that you can buy at the grocery store that can help make eating well a breeze without compromising flavour.
List of Healthy Store-Bought Foods
Here are 12 of my favourite healthy store-bought foods that can help make cooking easy while still being good for you.
Pesto is a staple ingredient that I always have on hand in the fridge. It works well as a marinade for meats, make a great salad dressing, adds flavour to vegetables or scrambled eggs, and works well with potatoes, rice or quinoa. Honestly, the options are endless. Pesto is made of a combination of herbs (typically basil), pine nuts, oil, and parmesan cheese. Grocery stores will often carry multiple varieties of pesto, with different herbs and nuts, however, it is really the oil that you want to pay attention to. If you can find a version made with olive oil, not vegetable or canola oil, it is a great addition to your fridge staples.
Store-bought granolas and oatmeals are certainly delicious, but they often contain added sugar, refined oils, and preservatives making them a less-than-ideal choice. Fortunately, muesli is a great alternative to both that can be eaten cold or warm depending on your mood. Muesli is just a simple mixture of oats, nuts, seeds and/or dried fruit, and is easily found in any grocery store making it one of the best healthy store-bought foods. Dorset Cereals happens to be one of my favourite brands.
3. Tomato Sauce
Store-bought spaghetti sauces have a bit of a bad rap because many of them contain sugar, however, many of them do not. In fact, many of them are made of whole foods like tomatoes, garlic, spices and olive oil, making them a great option. Just be sure to read the ingredients before you pick a brand and flavour so you know exactly what you are getting.
4. Canned Bean Medleys
If you are in need of a quick salad, a canned bean medley is a great way to go; they can be eaten on their own with a little dressing or added to any salad. Beans are a great source of plant-based protein and make a great lunch or dinner, just opt for low-sodium brands whenever possible.
There are about 100 different varieties of soup in the average grocery store, and although many are less than ideal, you can often find some really good options! Brands like Happy Planet and Amy’s have flavours made solely of whole food ingredients in their product lines, however, not all of the flavours are. To be sure, just read the ingredients and look for flavours without any additives or sugars.
6. Frozen Vegetables
Good news, frozen vegetables are a great option and just as nutrient-dense as fresh vegetables. Often picked and packaged at the peak of freshness, frozen vegetables are a great way to save a bit of money and a perfect addition to soups, stews or stir-frys on busy nights when you can’t be bothered to chop your own.
7. Seasoning Blends
Ensuring that our food is flavourful and well-seasoned helps to make eating well much more enjoyable. Many grocery stores carry Mexican, Italian, BBQ, or poultry blends that can be used as quick seasonings for meats or vegetables. However, note that some brands and blends may include added sugars and preservatives, so just read the ingredients to find the ones that don’t.
Hummus is a great protein-rich snack for adults and kids alike, and it’s also a great alternative to dips or sandwich spreads. Made of a combination of chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and oil, grocery stores will carry a variety of different brands and flavours. However, similar to pesto, some hummus brands are made with canola oil, so be sure to read the ingredients and opt for varieties made of olive or sunflower oil.
9. Hot Sauce
Hot sauce is the perfect pantry staple you can put on anything to take it from bland to great. There are a number of different hot sauce brands and flavours available in grocery stores, so just compare the labels to find the versions without additives.
10. Bagged Salads
Bagged salads are a great option that you can buy in bulk to help cut down on prep work and make getting your leafy greens easy. The worst part of most bagged salads is the dressing they come with (as it is often made with vegetable oil and added sugar), however, by simply making your own dressing, or buying an olive oil-based version, you can use bagged salad for lunches and dinners without any concern.
11. Curry Paste
Along with pesto, this is one of my personal favourite healthy store-bought foods. Curry pastes are chock full of flavour and help alleviate the need to buy a bunch of random ingredients and spend hours in the kitchen. A simple dollop of curry paste along with some chicken, vegetables and a can of coconut milk can make an incredible Thai curry dinner in less than 30 minutes.
12. The Deli Counter
The deli counter of many grocery stores is filled with healthy store-bought foods that people often overlook. Aside from the actual deli meats, many grocery stores will carry pre-made salads, vegetable dishes, and cooked meats that you can buy by weight. Not only does this help cut down on meal prep time, but can help you in a pinch at a fraction of the cost of takeout.