Fast & Fabulous: 25 Best Packaged Foods for Families

The Parents team scoured supermarkets for new family-friendly items that contain reasonable levels of fat and sodium, have no artificial colors or flavors, and that save busy cooks time. Then we asked kids to tell us their faves.

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Kitchen Staples

Yasu and Junko

Kitchen Staples

Keep these products around -- and you'll always have something healthy to make the kids.

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Mrs. Dash Salt-Free, All Natural Taco Seasoning Mix

Courtesy of B&G Foods, Inc.

Mrs. Dash Salt-Free, All Natural Taco Seasoning Mix

Made with chili pepper, cumin, and other spices. It's so flavorful that you won't even miss the salt. (20 calories, 0 fat per Tbs.)

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Ortega Fiesta Flats

Courtesy of B&G Foods, Inc.

Ortega Fiesta Flats

Easier for kids to handle than the typical crunchy corn shells, these taco boats have a raised edge, so the toppings don't fall out. And they're made with only three ingredients: whole-grain corn flour, oil, and salt. (50 calories, 2g fat each)

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Marzetti Simply Dressed & Light Balsamic Vinaigrette

Courtesy of T. Marzetti Company

Marzetti Simply Dressed & Light Balsamic Vinaigrette

Yogurt pumps up the texture of this light dressing available in the refrigerated section. It also works well as a marinade for chicken or veggies. (50 calories, 3g fat for 2 Tbs.)

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Jif Whips Creamy Peanut Butter

Courtesy of The J.M. Smucker Company

Jif Whips Creamy Peanut Butter

This fluffier version of the popular sandwich filling contains about 50 fewer calories and 4 fewer grams of fat per serving than typical creamy PB. "But it tastes every bit as delicious," says tester Amie Rutledge, whose 4-year-old is a fan too. (140 calories, 12g fat per 2 Tbs.)

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Smucker's Natural Concord Grape Fruit Spread

Courtesy of The J.M. Smucker Company

Smucker's Natural Concord Grape Fruit Spread

Lower in calories than the company's grape jam, this spread was a hit among tasters who described it as "sweet and tangy." (40 calories, 0 fat per Tbs.)

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Meals & Sides In Minutes

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Meals & Sides In Minutes

Take a healthy shortcut -- these products will cut back on your time in the kitchen.

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Birds Eye Recipe Ready Grilling Blend

Courtesy of Birds Eye

Birds Eye Recipe Ready Grilling Blend

Chunky pieces of zucchini, yellow squash, onion, and pepper are ideal for the backyard barbecue or grill pan when you don't have time to cut your own. (20 calories, 0 fat per 3/4 cup)

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Lisa's Organics Sweet Peas in Parmesan Herb Broth

Courtesy of Healthy Brands Collective

Lisa's Organics Sweet Peas in Parmesan Herb Broth

Frozen seasoned veggies are usually sodium bombs, but this tasty one has just 110 milligrams per serving. "My 2-year-old daughter, Harper, kept asking for more," says Tanya Bodenstedt. (40 calories, 0 fat for 1/4 of the bag)

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Ore-Ida Simply Olive Oil and Sea Salt Homestyle Wedges

Courtesy of Ore-Ida

Ore-Ida Simply Olive Oil and Sea Salt Homestyle Wedges

Hello, healthy spuds! These are crispy and taste salty despite not being high in fat and sodium. (120 calories, 3.5g fat per 7 wedges)

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Tyson Fun Nuggets

Courtesy of Tyson Foods

Tyson Fun Nuggets

The company recently made refined flour extinct by switching the breading on its frozen dino-shaped nuggets to nutrient-rich whole grain. Kids gobbled them up. (180 calories, 11g fat for 4 pieces)

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Earth's Best Organic Mini Pancakes (Homestyle flavor)

Courtesy of Jean Webb

Earth's Best Organic Mini Pancakes (Homestyle flavor)

Made with whole-wheat flour and fortified with iron and B vitamins, these low-sugar silver-dollar-size pancakes are a great finger food for toddlers and preschoolers. (70 calories, 1g fat per 4 pancakes)

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Applegate Naturals Uncured Reduced Sodium Sunday Bacon

Courtesy of Applegate

Applegate Naturals Uncured Reduced Sodium Sunday Bacon

What's better than bacon? Thicker-cut "Sunday" bacon with 25 percent less sodium than most regular versions, no added nitrates, and a whole lot of flavor. (60 calories, 5g fat per 2 slices)

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Dole Chopped Asian Blend Salad

Courtesy of Dole Fresh Vegetables

Dole Chopped Asian Blend Salad

Our tiny tasters ate kale when it was chopped up with bite-size pieces of cabbage, carrots, and snap peas in this bagged salad. (25 calories, 0 fat per 11/2 cups)

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Better-for-the-Family Desserts

Yasu and Junko

Better-for-the-Family Desserts

There's room for a little dessert in your child's diet if he eats healthfully the rest of the day. Keep treats under 200 calories.

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Roba Dolce Ocean Spray Honey Fig Gelato

Courtesy of Roba Dolce Inc.

Roba Dolce Ocean Spray Honey Fig Gelato

Although fig gelato sounds grown-up, kids enjoyed it as much as their parents. "It's like my taste buds had a party," says 12-year-old Marissa Mok. Lucky for the whole family, it's lower in calories and fat than typical high-end ice cream. (170 calories, 5g fat per 1/2 cup)

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Newtons Fruit Thins (Cherry Vanilla)

Courtesy of Mondeléz International

Newtons Fruit Thins (Cherry Vanilla)

These crispy cookies, made with whole grains and dried cherries, have only about 2 grams of sugar per piece, so you don't have to deal with that after-dinner crash. (47 calories, 12/3g fat each)

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Keebler Simply Made Butter Cookies

Courtesy of Keebler

Keebler Simply Made Butter Cookies

Baked with the ingredients you'd use for a homemade batch, these treats are worth the calories. (70 calories, 4g fat each)

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Ruby's Rockets (Rock-It Red flavor)

Courtesy of Ruby Rocket's Fruit and Vegetable Ice Pops

Ruby's Rockets (Rock-It Red flavor)

We're over the moon about these brightly colored, delicious pops because they're made with water, fruits, probiotics, and veggies and contain only 2 grams of sugar each. (25 calories, 0 fat per pop)

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Quick Snacks

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Quick Snacks

Dig into these between-meal munchies that supply nutrients as well as a burst of energy.

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Amy's Bean & Cheese Burrito Snacks

Courtesy of Amy's Kitchen

Amy's Bean & Cheese Burrito Snacks

Pinto beans, brown rice, cheese, and veggies are stuffed into a small, soft wrapper. "It's awesome," says Cari Wasmund, mom of a 3-year-old. (200 calories, 6g fat for 5 or 6 pieces)

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Dannon Oikos Yogurt Dips (Cucumber Dill)

Courtesy of Dannon

Dannon Oikos Yogurt Dips (Cucumber Dill)

Made with Greek yogurt, this mild-flavored dip is perfect for parties and playdates. (25 calories, 1g fat per 2 Tbs.)

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Pearls Olives to Go!

Courtesy of Pearls Olives

Pearls Olives to Go!

A super school snack, ten black pitted olives come in a portable cup with an easy-to-peel lid. (38 calories, 4g fat per container)

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Simply Balanced Sweet Corn Freeze Dried Vegetables

Courtesy of Target

Simply Balanced Sweet Corn Freeze Dried Vegetables

Talk about clean eating: The only ingredient in this Target brand is corn. (120 calories, 21/2g fat per 3/4 cup)

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Wholly Salsa (Avocado, Black Bean & Roasted Corn)

Courtesy of Wholly Salsa

Wholly Salsa (Avocado, Black Bean & Roasted Corn)

A favorite among dads at the tasting, this hearty dip is gluten-free and contains only 1 gram of sugar per serving. "It would be a hit at a tailgate," predicts Marc Patterson. (35 calories, 1g fat per 2 Tbs.)

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Chobani Champions Flyin' Dragon Fruit Greek Yogurt Tubes

Courtesy of Chobani

Chobani Champions Flyin' Dragon Fruit Greek Yogurt Tubes

How else will you get your kid to try dragon fruit? "Our 2-year-old thought it was delicious," says Crystal Franke. (70 calories, 1g fat per tube)

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Cascadian Farm Crunchy Oats & Honey Granola Bars

Courtesy of Cascadian Farm

Cascadian Farm Crunchy Oats & Honey Granola Bars

Each bar contains only seven ingredients and 41/2 grams of sugar. Now that's sweet! (90 calories, 31/2g fat per bar)

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Rudi's Organic Bakery Multigrain Organic Soft Pretzels

Courtesy of Rudi's Organic Bakery

Rudi's Organic Bakery Multigrain Organic Soft Pretzels

Use the enclosed salt packet to add the amount you want to these yummy pretzels. (170 calories, 3g fat per pretzel)

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The Laughing Cow: Light White Cheddar flavor

Courtesy of The Laughing Cow

The Laughing Cow: Light White Cheddar flavor

Kids can put this creamy spread on crackers easy peasy. (35 calories, 1 1/2g fat per wedge)

Originally published in the March 2014 issue of Parents magazine.

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