Fast & Fabulous: 26 Best Packaged Foods for Families

Healthy Snacks: Why Kids Need to Snack
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.
Yasu and Junko
Yasu and Junko

Kitchen Staples

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

Courtesy of B&G Foods, Inc.
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.)

Courtesy of Heinz
Courtesy of Heinz

Simply Heinz Ketchup

Kids love to dip their chicken nuggets in the yummy ketchup, but it also helps them learn to like new foods like carrots or asparagus. Simply Heinz Ketchup is made with real, simple ingredients and no high-fructose corn syrup. 

 

Courtesy of B&G Foods, Inc.
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)

Here are three things to avoid when reading nutrition labels.

Courtesy of T. Marzetti Company
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.)

Courtesy of The J.M. Smucker Company
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.)

Courtesy of The J.M. Smucker Company
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.)

Yasu and Junko
Yasu and Junko

Meals & Sides In Minutes

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

Courtesy of Birds Eye
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)

Courtesy of Healthy Brands Collective
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)

Courtesy of Ore-Ida
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)

Courtesy of Tyson Foods
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)

Courtesy of Jean Webb
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)

Courtesy of Applegate
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)

Courtesy of Dole Fresh Vegetables
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)

Yasu and Junko
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.

Courtesy of Roba Dolce Inc.
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)

Courtesy of Mondeléz International
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)

Courtesy of Keebler
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)

Courtesy of Ruby Rocket's Fruit and Vegetable Ice Pops
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)

Yasu and Junko
Yasu and Junko

Quick Snacks

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

Courtesy of Amy's Kitchen
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)

Courtesy of Dannon
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.)

Courtesy of Pearls Olives
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)

Courtesy of Target
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)

Courtesy of Wholly Salsa
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.)

Courtesy of Chobani
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)

Courtesy of Cascadian Farm
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)

Courtesy of Rudi's Organic Bakery
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)

Courtesy of The Laughing Cow
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)

 

Snacks are not only fun treats, they're also essential for a healthy lifestyle. Find out why your kids need to snack.

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