While foods made from scratch are often healthier, sometimes during a time crunch we may buy prepared or packaged
foods for convenience. Here are some tips to make packaged foods healthier:
Rinse off canned vegetables before you use
them. This gets rid of a lot of sodium (salt). Salt is added to preserve foods for long periods of time. Try buying canned foods that are labeled, 'No salt added.'
Add fresh, frozen or canned vegetables to macaroni and cheese, pasta,
and casserole mixes. Adding fruit, vegetables or whole grains to any meal as a side dish or combined will help to make your meal alot healthier.
When packaged foods include a spice packet, only use half
of it. This lowers the amount of salt and calories in the
If you eat canned fruit, buy fruit in juice instead of syrup.
Or, buy the fruit in light syrup.
When you need to use oil, use canola oil, safflower oil,
or olive oil. These oils have less saturated fat than other
kinds of oils.
When cooking packaged foods, use less butter than the package
calls for. Or, you can use margarine or canola oil instead.
With some packaged foods, like Rice-a-Roni, you do not
even need to use the butter at all.
Try to use the healthier version of whatever ingredients
you need. For example, use skim milk instead of whole milk,
reduced-fat cheese, or egg whites instead of whole eggs.
If you are cooking ground meat to add to a dish (like Hamburger
Helper), drain it off or rinse it in a colander after you
cook it to get rid of extra fat.
If a packaged food recipe calls for salt, use less than the
recipe calls for. After you cook it, you can taste it and
add more salt if you want to. Or, add flavor with garlic, spices,
or lemon juice.
This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in cooperation with the
Maryland Department of Human Resources and the University of Maryland. The University of Maryland Extension
will not discriminate against any person because of race, age, sex, color, sexual orientation,
physical or mental disability,
religion, ancestry or national origin, marital status, genetic information,
and gender identity or expression.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
assistance to people
with low income. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more,
contact the Maryland Department of Human Resources at 1-800-332-6347 or apply online at www.marylandsail.org.