Who says you have to shop the perimeter of the grocery store to be healthy? We put 500 new convenience foods to the test and found great picks in every aisle. Shop smarter with our list!
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Purely Elizabeth Ancient Grain Granola Cereal in Pumpkin Fig
The judges cheered
for this great-tasting standout in a sea of too-bland or too-sweet granolas, thanks to its dried figs and organic cinnamon. This low-sugar (only 6 grams) pick also scores for its fiber-rich puffed amaranth and quinoa flakes and fiber-and-omega-3-loaded chia seeds.
We tried lots of cereals with the word "almond" or "pecan" in the name, but a search failed to turn up enough nuts to fill a thimble. This one had a surprisingly generous amount of pecans, plus whole-wheat flakes and rolled oat clusters, which serve up 35 grams of whole grains plus 5 grams of fiber (and just 8 grams of sugar) per serving.
$4 for 16-oz box; grocery stores
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Eggland’s Best Hard-Cooked Peeled Eggs
It’s not rocket scienceto boil an egg, but if you’re like us, you rarely have the time in the a.m. to do it. This winner lets you get a protein hit in a hurry. And because Eggland’s hens are fed a vegetarian diet, these eggs are 25% lower in saturated fat and twice as high in omega-3 fats as regular ones.
Waffles aren’t just for kids: We adore the light, fluffy texture of this toaster-ready breakfast, which indulges a morning sweet tooth while slipping in 9 grams of fiber and 35% of your calcium needs. And judge Jackie Newgent, RD, liked that these waist-friendly waffles are low in saturated fat and sugar (only 1.5 and 3 grams respectively).
$3.19 for 8 waffles; grocery stores
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Kettle Cuisine Thai Curry Chicken Soup
It’s rare to find a yummy store-bought soup that isn’t a sodium disaster. This one, at 560 milligrams per serving, has about half of what you’d find in most. Spicy curry, lemongrass, and coconut milk give this fabulous Thai flavor—and while the coconut does contribute saturated fat, "it’s fine in moderation," says Newgent.
"This is how bread is supposed to taste," Newgent raves. The certified organic loaf is slightly sweet and studded with poppy, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds, which give each slice good-for-you fats. We highly recommend smearing a toasted slice with almond butter and a drizzle of honey.
$4.39 for 22.4-oz loaf; Whole Foods Market and select grocery stores
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Sukhi’s Tandoori Chicken Naanwich
Found: a quick big-flavor meal with plenty of protein (23 grams) and not much fat (6 grams). This no-boredom sandwich sports exotic Indian spices (coriander, cilantro, ginger, and celery seeds) and heats up in just 90 seconds. Lunch is on.
$2.99; Whole Foods Market
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Hormel Natural Choice Cracked Black Pepper Deli Turkey
Judge Robin Miller gave this deli meat high marks for being low in fat and free of nitrates and MSG. You’ll love the delicious smoky, peppery flavor, and the fact that three slices serves up 11 grams of protein in a super-skinny 60-calorie package.
$3.99 for 8 oz; grocery stores
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Weight Watchers Natural Reduced Fat Colby Jack Cheese Sticks
Low-fat cheese tends to be rubbery and less than satisfying, but this quick, light snack-stick looks, feels, and tastes like the real thing. And unlike most cheese, it’s low in sodium (105 milligrams) and saturated fat (3 grams).
$3.99 for package of 12; grocery stores
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Horizon Organic Lowfat Chocolate Milk Plus DHA Omega-3
Finally, chocolate milk that tastes creamy
(not a bit chalky!).
And its virtues go way beyond taste: We love that this bone-builder is organic, and fortified with DHA omega-3 fatty acids, so you’re boosting your mood and memory to boot.
$4.29 for half gallon; grocery stores
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Bolthouse Farms Bom Dia Açai +10 Superblend
Not all juices bearing "super-fruits" on their label offer healthy benefits, but this one made from açai and 10 other antioxidant-loaded fruits (including goji berries, yumberries, and sea buckthorn) does. Almost 300 milligrams of potassium makes it a good post-gym sip, and it has 50% of tough-to-find vitamin K (vital for blood clotting).
$7.99 for 32-oz bottle; grocery stores
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Honest Ade 0 Calorie Classic Lemonade
Sweet lemonade with zero calories and no artificial sweeteners ... what’s not to love? Miller is a fan of this sip, which is naturally sweetened with stevia: "I’m a lemonade-drinker and this stuff is great." Drink up during cold-season: It gives you a day’s worth of vitamin C.
$1.79 for 16-oz bottle; grocery stores nationwide
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Bolthouse Farms Cucumber Rosemary Aura Botanical Water
Too many jazzed-up waters get their kick from tons of added sugar and artificial flavorings. But this standout—made with apple juice, lemon juice, cucumber, and rosemary—keeps it real and light (close your eyes and you can almost believe you’re at Canyon Ranch instead of your cubicle). One 90-calorie bottle knocks off one fruit serving, too. Nice.
This fresh kit takes the boredom out of greens in five minutes flat with salty blue cheese, tart dried cherries, and heart-healthy slivered almonds, plus a sweet-sour vinaigrette (each in its own stay-fresh bag). And it delivers vitamins A, C, K, and folate, too.
$3.69–$3.99 for package; grocery stores
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Al Fresco All Natural Tomato & Basil Chicken Meatballs
A healthier and better-tasting meatball? Yes! The sweet basil, onion and garlic wowed our tastebudsbut even better, there are no artificial ingredients or preservatives here (and these are low in sodium and saturated fats too). Judge Divya Gugnani liked that you can get a hearty meal on the tablefastby just heating them with marinara and serving over pasta.
$4.99 for package of 16; grocery stores
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Kashi Basil Pesto Pizza
Let’s face it: Light frozen pizza isn’t usually a taste sensation. Which is why this 240-calorie (for 1/3 of the pie) offering blew us away. Yes, it’s healthier than most frozen pies, with protein and lots of fiber, thanks to its seven-grain crust.
But it’s the delicious pesto and that thin crispy crust that make this our new freezer staple. As judge Divya Gugnani points out, "It’s quicker than delivery—just 10 minutes to heat in the toaster oven."
Shrimp, chicken, broccoli, and whole-grain linguini in a citrusy lemongrass sauce…this protein-packed dinner sounds delish, and it is. One reason why: You steam the ingredients in the microwave, then mix with the sauce, which makes for a fresher-tasting zap-and-serve dinner.
$2.75–$3.50; grocery stores
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Frozen vegetarian entree
Amy’s Light & Lean Black Bean & Cheese Enchilada
You don’t usually get great flavor and nutrition in the same frozen meal. But this gluten-free enchilada wins on all counts: It’s yummy, plus low in fat and high in fiber. Organic brown rice, black beans, corn, and tofu topped with tomatillo and ranchero sauces make it incredibly filling for only 240 calories.
$4.89; grocery stores
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Lean Cuisine Fajita-Style Chicken Spring Rolls
We wouldn’t usually think of serving frozen diet food to guests, but these crisp chipotle-chicken-filled rolls are a totally impressive hors d’oeuvre. Serve this 200-calorie (per three-roll serving) nibble to your book club and you’ll have plenty of calories left over for a glass of vino!
$3.59 for 6 rolls; grocery stores
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Luna Chocolate Dipped Coconut
Need an afternoon pick-me-up? This bar has become our go-to office snack. Coconut and dark chocolate make it taste like a macaroon, plus you get nutrients that most women need more of: folate, iron, calcium, and vitamin D. Nine grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber in just 190 calories: Now that’s sweet.
$1.39; grocery stores
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Skinny Cow Heavenly Crisp Milk Chocolate Candy Bar
If you’re craving chocolate, skip the vending machine and get your afternoon fix here. The creamy milk chocolate and crispy wafers in this indulgent bar won over the judges. And it logs in at a slim 110 calories, 6 grams of fat, and just 9 grams of sugar.
$4.29 for box of 6; grocery stores nationwide
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Cedar’s Natural Wheat Pita Chips
While plenty of snacks tout their "whole grain" goodness, this chip is the real deal: Whole-wheat flour is its very first ingredient. In fact, this super-snack has just nine ingredients in all—a rarity in the snack aisle. And good thing they’re great for you, say our judges, because they’re seriously addictive.
Think: creamy, cheesy—and way lower-cal than most comparable dips
(just 80 per serving). And as for the taste: We seriously couldn’t stop dunking fresh veggies in it.
$2.69 for 11 oz; grocery stores
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Stonyfield Organic Oikos Superfruits
Organic pomegranate juice and açai and raspberry purees combine for a taste treat that’s tart and sweet. With as much protein (13 grams) as half a chicken breast, this fat-free, 130-calorie cup makes an incredible post-workout treat.
$1.99 for 5.3-oz cup; select grocery stores
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Food Should Taste Good Toasted Sesame Tortilla Chips
Sesame seeds give these corn tortilla chips an amazing toasty flavor. And our judges loved that they keep you full with 3 grams of fiber per 11-chip serving. Another impressive stat: They’ve got just 100 milligrams of sodium—but still taste plenty salty (hooray for natural sea salt!).
$2.99–$3.29 for 6-oz bag; grocery stores
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Fruit to go
Sunsweet D’Noir Prunes
Get ready to rethink the dried plum. Judge Gail Simmons flipped for these prunes because they’re surprisingly juicy, making this healthy (3 grams of filling fiber per serving) snack a must-grab.
Bonus: They’re preservative-free.
$3.29 for 9-oz bag; grocery stores
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Planters NUT-rition Omega-3 Mix Multipacks
Rip into the handy pouch and you get a tasty snack a cardiologist would love: heart-healthy dark chocolate-covered soy nuts, omega-3-rich walnuts, and naturally fat-free, tangy dried cranberries. Plus, each sodium-free pack totally satisfied our munchies with 2 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein.
$5.99 for 7-pack box; grocery stores
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Barney Butter Almond Butter Snack Packs
These slim packs are the perfect car-, plane-, or train-ride protein boost. The smooth almond butter gives fruit slices, toast, or waffles a nutrition upgrade. Don’t let the fats make you flinch—it’s mostly good-for-you mono- and polyunsaturated types here.
$10.08 for box of 24; grocery stores
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Ciao Bella Blueberry Passion Sorbet Bar
The tart fruitiness of this 70-calorie bar just plain wowed us. Unlike many fruity bars that are sweetened with added sugar, this one gets its flavor from natural juices. Now if we could just get ’em stocked on the ice cream truck.
$4.99 for box of 3 bars; grocery stores
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