I try to cook healthy homemade meals most days of the week, but the truth is I just can’t do it all. Like everyone else, I use some convenience (processed) foods on a regular basis. These are things that decrease stress and are useful when life just gets too busy. I’d rather use some of these at home than eat out multiple meals a week. It’s cheaper and healthier to consume most of your meals at home, where you know what’s going into them.
When it comes to processed foods I do try to pick the best choice that my budget allows. I try to choose cereals without excessive amounts of sugar and artificial colors/ingredients, whole wheat pasta over refined pasta, crackers and breads with at least some whole grains, etc. With that said, here are five of my favorite convenience foods that I buy on a regular basis:
I always keep a box or two of crackers in my pantry. My kids like these Back to Nature crackers. I prefer the Crunchmaster multi-grain crackers that I wrote about here. I use crackers for peanut butter/almond butter cracker sandwiches in the boys’ lunches. I also use them to make homemade lunchables. I pack a little nitrate free ham or turkey, cheese, and crackers and the kids can build their own “lunchable”. I try to stock up on both types of crackers when they go on sale because they can be expensive otherwise.
Barbara’s Multigrain Spoonfuls Cereal
I don’t buy a lot of cereal but sometimes when the morning is super busy it’s nice to have something we can eat quickly. This is our go-to cereal. I usually serve it with fruit and yogurt. It’s not the healthiest cereal out there but it’s good enough for me. I like that it only has 5g of sugar, 4g of fiber, and an ingredient list that I can pronounce. Cereal can be expensive too. This cereal is regularly $3.99 but I stock up when it goes on sale for $2. We also like the plain cheerios, which only have 1 gram of sugar.
Annie’s Macaroni and Cheese
I have a homemade macaroni and cheese recipe that we all love but sometimes I need something even easier. I make this boxed Annie’s macaroni and cheese every few weeks after church for the boys and my husband usually makes it for dinner when I’m out for the night. I make a box of macaroni stretch further by adding some whole wheat pasta from the pantry. There is plenty of the cheese sauce to cover the extra pasta and I end up with another serving or two. I send the leftovers in a thermos for my seven year old’s lunch. Annie’s goes on sale regularly at Kroger so I buy a few boxes whenever the price is reduced.
Whole Wheat Pita Bread
I almost always have some of these pita pockets (or the mini size) in my freezer. They thaw very quickly and when we need a quick sandwich for lunch or dinner I can pull some out and get to work. The whole family likes them and they are delicious when used to make a regular sandwich or a warm sandwich made in the panini press or on the griddle. They are great for sandwiches in school lunches as well.
All four of us love these Amy’s burritos. When we need a quick lunch or dinner I warm them up in the microwave and serve with some fresh fruit or veggies on the side.
When I buy a box of 8 at Costco they come out to $1.31 each. Even when adding fresh fruits and veggies on the side it’s still cheaper (and healthier) than fast food.
What are some of the processed/convenience foods you use on a regular basis?
Need some easy and quick ideas for dinner? Take a look at a recent post I did here.