8 grocery store hacks for healthy back-to-school eating
These dietitian-recommended eats will help keep your diet goals on track.
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Like many of you, I’m 100% burnt out when it comes to cooking. Pre-COVID, whipping up the occasional weeknight dinner was no big deal, and oftentimes quite enjoyable. But once my family went from eating a few meals a week at home to eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner at home every single day, preparing meals got rather old very quickly.
Sure, we could lean on our local pizza delivery or around-the-corner taco spot for a quick meal to enjoy at home. But eating takeout frequently isn’t easy on the wallet, and it’s not always great in terms of healthy options.
And now that we're going back to school and perhaps back to the office, I’m leaning on these grocery items that act as amazing short cuts in the kitchen while also helping my family continue to eat healthfully.
1. Caulipower Cauliflower Crusted Chicken Tenders
Chicken tenders aren’t just for kids, and this frozen cauliflower-coated option has no artificial ingredients, zero saturated fat, zero added sugar, fewer net carbs, more protein, and more fiber than many other tenders available at the grocery store.
For a quick and yummy dish, top these tenders with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese for super easy chicken parmesan. Or, coat your tenders with teriyaki sauce for an Asian-inspired dish and serve with steamed rice and veggies. And for the easiest dish yet, serve these cauli-coated tenders on top of greens for a satisfying salad.
2. Regal Salmon Wood Roasted Salmon Variety Pack
Many experts recommend that we eat seafood two to three times per week for a slew of health benefits. But for many people, enjoying a bi-weekly freshly cooked piece of fish is easier said than done.
Enter: Regal Salmon. This brand’s wood roasted smoked salmon is a lifesaver on busy nights. Simply defrost a pre-portioned, pre-marinated, and pre-cooked piece of salmon and enjoy over a green salad for a smoky and rich protein source that tastes just as good (or, dare I say, better) as what you’ll find in a restaurant.
3. Applegate Well Carved Organic Mediterranean Style Meatballs
I love a good turkey meatball, but the effort of mixing, forming perfect little spheres, and baking is just too tedious sometimes. Applegate Well Carved Organic Mediterranean Style Meatballs are pre-made and fully cooked frozen meatballs that actually taste good after they are microwaved (no rubbery mystery meat after nuking).
And these meatballs are loaded with healthful goodies like organic lentils and spinach for a nutritional boost. The Mediterranean flavor of these meatballs pairs well with microwavable quinoa and a drizzle of tahini sauce for a hearty dinner that’s ready in literally under five minutes.
4. Eggland’s Best Hard-Cooked Peeled Eggs
Hard-boiled eggs are a staple in my home for breakfast, lunch, and snack time because they’re such an easy food to add to meals for a boost of high-quality protein, plus they’re packed with key nutrients like vitamin D. But on busy days, boiling and peeling eggs is just not happening.
Thankfully, Eggland’s Best Hard-Cooked Peeled Eggs exist. These eggs are conveniently pre-cooked and pre-peeled so all I have to do is open the bag and chow down.
Eggs are rich in a variety of micronutrients that support a healthy immune system such as vitamin E, vitamin D, and omega-3s, making them a nutritional powerhouse.
The natural thought is to eat these eggs on busy mornings for breakfast, but they don’t have to only be a morning staple. Use them in an egg salad, place them on top of mixed greens, or even use them as a shortcut for devilled eggs.
5. Bob’s Red Mill Grain Free Blueberry Muffin Mix
While I would love to be that mom who has freshly baked muffins sitting on the kitchen counter as my daughter gets home, baking anything from scratch is simply not on my priority list these days. But we all need some baked goods once in a while, and I would never deprive my family (or myself!) of homemade treats.
However, many of the boxed mixes are loaded with preservatives and saturated fats—two things that I try to avoid. Bob’s Red Mill Grain Free Blueberry Muffin Mix allow me to make delicious, nostalgic baked goods minus the gluten and undesirable ingredients by simply adding some water, oil, and eggs.
Get Bob’s Red Mill Grain Free Blueberry Muffin Mix at Walmart for $3.70
6. Joolies Pitted Organic Medjool Dates
From smoothies to energy bites, dates are an ingredient in many healthy recipes. But pitting them can be… the pits! Joolies Organic Medjool Dates are pre-pitted and packed with tons of key nutrients like iron, calcium, and potassium. And with a whopping three grams of fiber per serving, these fruits can help keep your gut healthy, too.
For a quick snack, slice the date in half and fill with some nut butter for an utterly satisfying nosh. Or if you are whipping up a salad, toss some chopped dates on top for a surprisingly sweet taste. The opportunities are endless.
7. Chosen Foods Muhammara Red Pepper Simmer Sauce
If you want a quick solution for your ho-hum chicken dishes, Chosen Foods Muhammara Red Pepper Simmer Sauce will be your go-to. Loaded with rich flavors like fire roasted red peppers, Aleppo pepper, and cumin, simply simmer veggies, lentils, chicken, beef, or tofu in the sauce, then eat up!
8. Dr. Praeger’s Perfect Burgers
There is no shame in wanting to sink your teeth into a burger after a long day. Instead of hitting up the local drive thru fast-food joint, microwave a few of Dr. Praeger’s Perfect Burgers.
Made with plant-based ingredients like beets, butternut squash, and oat fiber, these sliders provide 20 grams of protein per patty and they taste delish.
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.