With so many different kinds of bottled and jarred packaged goods available, it can be hard to decide which ones are worth purchasing. Some of them contain high-quality ingredients that you can use in your own cooking, while others may contain preservatives and additives that aren’t very healthy at all. Here are 10 of the best bottled and jarred packaged goods on the market today.
1) The Best in Beans
Beans are among my favorite foods to use when you’re packaging food. With so many varieties, beans can be prepared in a way that suits just about everyone’s tastes. Beans are also naturally low in fat, sodium, cholesterol and saturated fat—and they add high-quality protein to your meals. When deciding what type of beans to serve for dinner, think about how you want them packaged: baked or canned? How about canned with added ingredients? Canned beans offer plenty of conveniences, but baked beans offer more flavor. To find out which is right for you, check out these top 10 packaged bean products: List item #1 List item #2 List item #3… etc…
2) Crispy, Crunchy Things
There are just some foods that taste better when they’re crispy, crunchy, and full of salt. Crackers like Ritz crackers, chips like Doritos, nuts like cashews or peanuts—just about any kind of snack tastes better when it’s super crisp. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or not, there are plenty of reasons to reach for a bag instead of a bowl: one serving is probably less than 200 calories, has no added sugars (if you get unsalted), is really tasty…the list goes on. And with all those perks in mind, it turns out that a large body of research says snacking isn’t bad for your waistline.
3) Pastas and Sauces
Start with a favorite pasta recipe. Find jarred sauces that go with it, like pesto, marinara or Alfredo. You can make your own bottled version of these (following package instructions). Another way to add flavor is to buy frozen vegetables in season, dice them into bite-size pieces and freeze them. Freeze them in an ice cube tray until they’re solid. Then transfer cubes to a freezer bag; you can use three or four frozen vegetable cubes as a substitute for one can of sauce. As you cook with these extras, plan your meals around what’s left in your freezer so nothing goes to waste!
4) Chutneys and Jams
Creating and cooking with chutneys is a great way to use seasonal produce to create beautiful spreads that can be used on sandwiches, paired with meats, or enjoyed as condiments. Once you’ve learned how to make your own delicious jam or chutney, it can be refrigerated for up to a month (make sure you store in an airtight container), frozen for up to three months (again, storing in an airtight container), and canned for extended shelf life. Chutneys are versatile, delicious foods that pair well with meats such as pork tenderloin or chicken cutlets. Also consider using these condiments as flavorful alternatives when preparing stir-fry dishes.
Pickles are a great snack. They’re good to have around because they last longer than fresh vegetables do. They can add flavor to sandwiches and burgers, plus you don’t have to worry about using them all right away—there’s no way you’ll eat a whole jar in one sitting! However, some pickles are healthier than others. Check out these ten options if you’re looking for ways to incorporate more healthy foods into your diet.
The condiments market is huge, with more than $1 billion in sales each year. It’s also growing, with new trends like sriracha hot sauce popping up all over supermarket shelves. Top condiment brands include: 1) Ketchup (Heinz), 2) Barbecue Sauce (Heinz), 3) Mustard (Grey Poupon), 4) Mayonnaise (Hellman’s), 5) Hot Sauce (Cholula). Some newer players in town include sriracha sauce from Huy Fong Foods Inc., which cracked into Fortune magazine’s list of 100 fastest-growing food companies for 2013-14 at No.
Cooking spices can be pricey when bought in bulk. One easy way to save money on spices is to buy them already bottled or jarred. Just make sure they are as fresh as possible when you buy them, and they should last for at least a year. Even if they don’t, you’ll be saving so much money that it probably won’t matter.
8) Trail Mixes
The best trail mixes usually have nuts, dried fruit, and a few chocolate chips. They are easy to carry around in your pocket, they don’t take up much space in your backpack, and they usually taste pretty good too. The main benefit is that you have a lot of variety with trail mixes. There are so many combinations you can try out that you’ll probably never get bored. And if you do, there are countless other variations on trail mix you can make for yourself.
Want something quick and healthy to put on a salad? Try an olive oil-based dressing, like Kirkland Signature Organic Italian Dressing. It’s rich in monounsaturated fats, which help lower LDL cholesterol levels—keeping your heart healthy—and it has less sugar than traditional dressings. It also comes in single-serve pouches so you don’t have to worry about cross contamination or sharing a bottle. These are just some of our favorite bottled and jarred packaged goods. For more recommendations, check out The Balance’s 10 Healthy Budget Staples (Slideshow).
10) Oils and Vinegars
Drizzle these ingredients onto a salad, toss them with pasta, or mix them into marinades. Extra-virgin olive oil is a must-have in any kitchen; grapeseed oil is perfect for those who don’t like olive flavor. Sesame oil is typically used in Asian cooking. Other oils to consider are walnut and peanut oils. Apple cider vinegar adds piquancy to sauces and dressings, as well as soups, stews, and stir fries. Balsamic vinegar has a sweet taste that makes it ideal for vinaigrettes to add some flavor by replacing traditional white balsamic with dark balsamic or raspberry vinegar or using it as a dipping sauce on its own.