Your guide to pre-packaged foods

Figuring out which pre-packaged foods are healthy choices can be confusing. There are so many to choose from! Read on to get helpful tips on how to spot healthy pre-packaged food options while grocery shopping.


What are pre-packaged foods?

Pre-packaged foods are foods that are sealed in a box, bag, can or other container. They are sold in the grocery store in their packages. Some examples of pre-packaged foods include:

  • Ready-to-eat frozen entrees
  • Frozen chicken nuggets and hamburgers patties
  • Crackers and granola bars
  • Ice cream, cakes and cookies
  • Pop and juice
  • Pre-washed salad
  • Bagged frozen fruit
  • Canned tuna
  • Milk, yogurt and cheese

Are pre-packaged foods bad for me? 

Maybe. Some pre-packaged foods like ready-to-eat frozen entrees, granola bars, frozen chicken nuggets and pop may be high in calories, fat, salt and/or sugar. If you fill up on these pre-packaged foods, you may be missing out on other more nutritious foods.

Can pre-packaged foods fit into a healthy eating pattern?

Yes. Some pre-packaged foods are not only convenient, but nutritious too! Try these healthy, pre-packaged food choices:

Canned Foods (rinse canned goods or buy plain, low sodium versions)

  • Tuna and salmon
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Corn
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes

Frozen Foods

  • Plain frozen vegetables like broccoli, carrots and peas
  • Plan frozen fruit like strawberries, mangoes, blueberries and cranberries
  • Unseasoned fish like plain salmon, cod, trout and halibut

Bagged or Boxed Foods

  • Pre-washed lettuce
  • Shredded carrots
  • Cut up vegetables
  • Fruit trays
  • Whole grain, high fibre breads and cereals
  • Plain oatmeal
  • Plain whole grain pasta and brown rice

Other healthy pre-packaged foods

  • Low fat milk, yogurt and cheese
  • Unsalted nuts like almonds and walnuts
  • Natural, plain peanut and nut butters

How do I spot a healthy pre-packaged food?

Read the nutrition label!

All pre-packaged foods have a nutrition label and an ingredient list. Click here to see a few short videos to learn how to use a nutrition label.  You will learn about:

  • Serving size, calories and % Daily Value and
  • Nutrients you need to get more of and which nutrients to avoid

Bottom line

It is possible to find pre-packaged foods that fit into a healthy diet by reading nutrition labels. Compare nutrition labels and look for items that are lower in calories, sodium, sugar, fat and higher in fibre.

You may also be interested in:

How to choose the best canned soup

How to choose the best breakfast cereal

How to choose the best yogurt


Last Update – June 3, 2015

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