26 Mar 7 Ways to Eat A Healthy, Balanced Diet Using Packaged Foods
During this unsettling time, we are all stocking up on non-perishable and processed foods that we know will last us until the next time we need to go out to the grocery store or able to get an online order delivered. I’ve heard many folks say that health doesn’t matter now, as long as I have food to eat. Let me tell you, I live near the epicenter of the outbreak in New Rochelle, NY where I have been home bound since the beginning of March. Just because I stay home, doesn’t mean that my health goes out the window. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. I want to keep up my health during these times and make sure that my body is as healthy as possible. It’s still possible to consume nourishing foods that will keep you energized and focused while also eating processed shelf-stable foods. The key is to pair a processed food with a fruits and vegetables to boost nutrient intake. Here are 7 ideas on how you can pair packaged foods with other wholesome foods to make a balanced meal.
A Word About Produce
According to the 2015-2020 dietary guidelines for Americans, approximately 90% of Americans don’t meet the recommended amount of vegetables while approximately 85% of Americans don’t meet the daily fruit recommendations. It is important to enjoy fresh, frozen, canned, fried, and freeze-dried fruit in your meals and snacks. Now more than even, you need the nutrients and healthy plant-compounds they provide. Fresh produce from the market should be washed thoroughly before eating (no need to wash them in bleach or vinegar). If the fruit or vegetable has a tough exterior, like potatoes or melons, then use a clean bristled brush to wash the outside before slicing it out.
Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are packaged at the time of their peak ripeness, maintaining all of their vitamins and minerals. Frozen and canned produce can last for up to two years. And don’t forget about dried! Dried fruit like mango, apricots, prunes, tart cherries, cranberries, and raisins are perfect as a snack or in a homemade trail mix and in many other dishes– plus they also have a long shelf life.
7 Ways to Make A Healthy Meal with Packaged Foods
I love my box mac and cheese, and add to it roasted cauliflower for a creamy combination that even my kids enjoy.
2) Canned tuna with white beans
Canned tuna is a great source of protein and easy to stock up on. Canned beans are easy to use and provide soluble fiber, phosphorus, folate, iron, and other minerals. Mash the two together and you get a delicious mixture that can stretch the amount of people you can serve.
*Note: My Greek Yogurt Kitchen Cookbook has the recipe!
3) Couscous with mushrooms
Picked up a rice or couscous mixture at the market? Add vegetables to up your veggies! I love Near East couscous blends and saute 1/2 pound of brown mushrooms in 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the bottom of each saute pan and then add the water, couscous and spice packet. You can cook rice mixes and add frozen vegetables like peas with carrots or shelled frozen edamame for extra protein.
4) Ramen with cabbage
Saute sliced cabbage before adding it to your ramen will add some freshness and fiber while bulking up the soup and turning it into a satisfying meal. Cabbage is affordable and can be stretched for multiple meals.
5) Chicken nuggets with a side salad
Eating a meal of only fried foods (whether it’s made from chicken or plant-based meats) can leave you feeling sluggish. When I enjoy my nuggets, I pair them with a side salad and steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes (with the skin) on the side for a more balanced meal.
6) Frozen pizza with frozen vegetables
Adding frozen vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, or bell peppers is an easy way to add some fiber and nutrients to your cheesy pizza. If frozen, cook the vegetables per the package directions or add fresh or canned vegetables right before placing the pizza in the oven you’ll have a more nutrient-filled meal. Pair it with a side salad for even more nutrients.
7) Oatmeal with frozen berries
Frozen berries can last up to two years in the freezer. You can add frozen berries to oatmeal while it is cooking. Berries will not only add vitamins and minerals but also natural sweetness. If you have fresh berries laying around (maybe they were on sale!), you can also freeze them yourself by placing them in a single-layer on a baking sheet and place them in the freezer. Once frozen, place in a ziplock bag, label, and date.
COMMENT BELOW: I would love to hear some of your favorite way to pair packaged foods? Please share your ideas below!