How to Choose Healthy Premade Items at the Grocery Store by Beyond Type 1

What are Premade Items?

Proper balanced nutrition is key for living a healthy life. However, cooking every meal can be overwhelming or unrealistic for people with busy lives. Instead of turning to fast food, there are many premade items in grocery stores that can be time savers.

How to Choose Healthy Premade Items at the Grocery Store Premade items are foods that are cooked or made ahead of time and packaged for sale. This also includes foods that are made in the deli area of a grocery store. However, not all premade items may be the healthiest option for you and your family. You don’t have to sacrifice nutrition for time. Here are some tips on how to choose healthy premade items at the grocery store.

How to Choose Healthy Premade Items at the Grocery Store

Deli and Meat Departments
The deli section at the grocery store is a great place to find healthy premade items. You can pick up hot meals or a variety of cold foods like salads that were made same-day. Some healthy options at the deli can include rotisserie chicken, grilled chicken breasts, salads, and steamed or roasted veggies. Food leftover from the deli is usually packaged for sale in a cooler near the counter and can be used to make easy grab-and-go meals.

Some delis will shred leftover rotisserie chickens or chop up grilled chicken breasts. These are perfect for using in recipes that call for cooked chicken or even just tossing into a salad for lunch. Ready-to-cook items like premade kabobs and pre-seasoned meats and poultry may also be available at meat counters. However, when selecting premade meats, make sure to read the food label to check if the sodium and fat content are within your nutrition goals.

Produce and Dairy Sections
Healthier premade options will need to be refrigerated or frozen. Aside from the deli, be sure to check the produce section for premade options. Most produce sections of grocery stores will have healthy premade options like packaged salads, pre-cut fruits and veggies, premade guacamole and salsas, and even ready-to-cook zoodles (spiralized zucchini noodles). The dairy refrigerators may also have great premade snack options like bistro boxes, hummus and pretzels, and more.

Frozen Food Section
Frozen does not mean unhealthy. There are many frozen food options that are great healthy options. For example, frozen fruits are great for smoothies and baking. Frozen vegetables can be used for most recipes that call for fresh veggies. Other healthy premade frozen items can include riced cauliflower, ready-to-roast seasoned veggies, and bags of veggies that you can steam in the microwave. Purchasing precut veggies, like onions and peppers, are perfect for throwing into a quick omelet or tossing into a crockpot for chili.

Freezer sections also have a huge variety of frozen premade meals. Many frozen meals are labeled as “healthy” but can contain high levels of sodium , preservatives and added sugars. Look for healthier frozen meals that are lower in calories, have fewer added sugars, and provide nutrients like fiber and protein.

Packaged and Canned Foods

Although healthier premade options are refrigerated or frozen, there are still some healthy choices you can pick from shelves. Options like microwavable rice cups, canned fruits and vegetables that are lower in sodium with no added sugar, canned tuna and chicken packed in water, and plant-based chip alternatives can all be healthy premade items. Many grocery stores will also have an “organic” or “healthy” labeled aisle that contains products that are lower in sugar and less processed. This can be a great aisle to check for new products that you may have never had before!

Read the Nutrition Label

The best tool you can use for choosing healthy options is to know how to read nutrition labels. Nutrition labels give you a food’s nutritional information, such as calories, fiber content, added sugars, and more. With so many options, reading nutrition labels will help you compare similar products to pick the best option for you. Although premade items might be labeled as “sugar-free”, nutrition labels will show you if there are other sugar additives like high-fructose corn syrup.

You Can Eat Healthy With Minimal Cooking

In a perfect world, we would all have the time to freshly prepare each meal, but the reality is that we can be very busy with our lives and families. Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to spend hours in the kitchen. Buying premade items not only saves time, but it's an opportunity to try new foods that you might not have the recipe for or the ingredients to make. There’s no shame in buying premade items instead of cooking. With tons of healthy alternatives in grocery stores now, premade items can become a regular part of your meal rotation!

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