When life gets chaotic and busy, taking the time to make a healthy dinner can feel daunting. While picking up a frozen pizza or ordering takeout can be quick solutions, there are plenty of nutritious meal-prep products on grocery store shelves that make plating a dish way easier and faster.
Out of all the new options that launched nationwide between January 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021, 10 meal-prep foods stood out from the rest with their impressive nutrition and great taste. Eat This, Not That! Medical Expert Board member Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim, helped rate the products and choose the winners, then we prepared and taste-tested each one. Read on for our honest reviews—and to see where you can buy the winners!
The Best Healthy Meal-Prep Foods in 2022:
How They Ranked By Taste:
Best healthy veggies: Green Giant Simply Steam™ Made with Dash Salt-Free Seasoning Garlic & Herb Vegetable Medley
Green Giant partnered with Dash Seasoning to create a low-sodium veggie side that you can easily throw together for pretty much any meal. Simply steam the bag in the microwave for a few minutes, and you have cooked veggies ready to go in a flash. The bag advertises only 25 milligrams of sodium per serving, which is incredibly low for pre-seasoned packaged food.
The expert’s take: “This mouth-watering medley is a simple way to add more veggies with flavor to your plate. Enjoy a generous portion for a healthy dose of antioxidants and fiber,” says Young.
Our tasting notes: “The vegetables in this Simply Steam bag were cooked perfectly. Not too soggy, not too hard—just the right consistency you want vegetables to be. The only downside? I would have preferred a little bit more seasoning in the mix. (I wanted even more garlic and herb on my veggies.) It’s also not very salty, but that’s kind of the point of this product,” says Senior Editor, Kiersten Hickman.
Best healthy bread product: Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Flourless Flax Tortillas
Made with hearty good-for-you grains like wheat, barley, millet, spelt, flax seed, and lentils, the Ezekial 4:9 Flax Tortilla is the perfect healthy alternative for the usual flour tortillas you buy in the store—with five whole grams of fiber per serving. This sprouted tortilla is a bit wider than usual tortillas (almost the size of a wrap), but it works well for folding up burritos or quesadillas.
The expert’s take: “Love this brand and product. Sprouted wheat is more easily digestible than traditional whole wheat bread, it tastes great, and is high in fiber and protein,” says Young.
Our tasting notes: “These tortillas are a lot heartier than the average white varieties you find at the store, and you certainly get a taste of all the healthy whole grains in every bite. I’m a fan of that hearty, sprouted taste, so these tortillas are certainly a winner in my book. My tip is to heat one up in the microwave or over a pan to soften it before folding,” says Hickman.
Best healthy starchy side: Bako Sweet Organic Potato Steam Bags
After only six minutes in the microwave, you can have a bag full of cooked sweet potatoes ready to use for any meal. While orange is usually the go-to sweet potato for most, Bako also offers customers white and purple sweet potatoes ready to steam in the bag. Simply serve as a side, or use the cooked vegetables to make other healthy side dishes like sweet potato mash or homemade sweet potato gnocchi.
The expert’s take: “Sweet potatoes are among the healthiest foods you can eat. A great side dish, it’s simple to make, and full of antioxidants, fiber, and flavor,” says Young.
Our tasting notes: “I particularly love how you can purchase different kinds of sweet potatoes to steam. While the quality of these potatoes is good, there isn’t much else to note in terms of taste. The taste is exactly what you would expect from a cooked sweet potato. However, the convenience of having a “baked” sweet potato on your plate in less than 10 minutes is intriguing and makes for the ideal starchy side when you need something easy in a pinch,” says Hickman.
Best healthy delivery service: Oshēn Salmon
Oshēn—a company that focuses on providing customers with ocean-raised salmon—delivers fresh antioxidant-rich salmon that’s never been frozen right to your door. This service offers different boxes to order for shipment—including “The One Night Stand” with 2 pounds of salmon and “The Entertainer” with 5 pounds. If you would prefer a shipment of frozen salmon, you can also order “The Oshēn’s Twelve” with 4.5 pounds of frozen salmon portions.
The expert’s take: “This is the perfect dose of heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids. Easy to prepare, a tasty source of protein, it is the perfect food to add to your plate,” says Young.
Our tasting notes: “Salmon usually just tastes like, well, salmon. But the quality of Oshēn’s salmon is so distinguishable and fresh that it may be hard to settle for the average supermarket variety after trying it. The salmon is shipped fresh to your door, ready to cook when you need an easy meal,” says Hickman.
Best healthy dressing: Chosen Foods Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing
This dressing is high in fat—but the good kind of fat. Made from pure avocado oil, Chosen Foods Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing & Marinade is filling and packed with that delightful ACV flavor. It can be used as a salad dressing, as a dip, or can even as a marinade for chicken, seafood, and tofu. This dressing is gluten-free, dairy-free, and non-GMO.
The expert’s take: “Apple cider vinegar is great for gut health as it is fermented and offers up other health benefits as well, including regulating blood sugar. It also gives a salad a tangy zest,” says Young.
Our tasting notes: “This dressing has been sold out for a while—and for good reason. This tangy topping has that zingy taste you’re looking for with apple cider vinegar with a twist of dijon, garlic, and black pepper in every bite. This dressing pairs perfectly with a fresh green kale salad tossed with roasted vegetables and crumbly cheese,” says Hickman.
Best healthy side: Upton’s Naturals Shredded Jackfruit
If you’re in the market for a plant-based item that you can use in all kinds of ways, Upton’s Naturals Shredded Jackfruit seems to be the perfect solution. Whether you’re making tacos, sandwiches, or simply need something to top on a salad, this lightly seasoned pack of jackfruit is the perfect alternative to shredded meat. It’s packed with nutritional benefits and surprisingly low in calories.
The expert’s take: “Jackfruit makes a great addition to a meal. It is tasty and healthy. It is fairly low in calories and high in nutrients. It contains fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Give it a try,” says Young.
Our tasting notes: “This food product turned out to be the most surprising of the winners in this category. I’ve never tried jackfruit before (and I’ve always been a little skeptical of substituting it for meat), but the consistency and taste of it weren’t at all what I was expecting it to be. Instead of being a sweet and chewy food (my expectations), Upton’s Shredded Jackfruit was surprisingly moist and even fatty in consistency—eerily similar to what you would expect from pulled pork. We chose this as a winning side because jackfruit can be used in a variety of different ways—in tacos and sandwiches, on top of salads or white pizza, or honestly in any other meal you can dream up with shredded ‘meat,'” says Hickman.
Best healthy marinade: Haven’s Kitchen Golden Turmeric Sauce
Give your meat intense flavor by marinating it in Haven’s Kitchen Golden Turmeric Tahini. This marinade can work as an easy precursor before cooking any kind of meat you desire—whether roasted in the oven or tossed on the grill. And while it does make for an incredible marinade for meats—especially boneless chicken tights—it also works well simply as a sauce on top of roasted sweet potatoes or also as a salad dressing.
The expert’s take: “The Golden Turmeric tahini is a nutrition powerhouse and a tasty twist on tahini. The tahini contains a blend of heart-healthy sesame seeds and olive oil, and the turmeric kick boasts a healthy dose of anti-inflammatory properties. Yummy meets healthy,” says Young.
Our tasting notes: “Liquid gold is the best way to describe this Golden Turmeric Tahini. You get a slight tang of turmeric at the beginning of each bite, followed by the brightness of the lemon and a smooth finish from the tahini. It’s hard to restrain myself from drizzling the Golden Turmeric Tahini on every dinner I make,” says Hickman.
Best healthy sauce: Otamot Organic Vodka Sauce
Made with 80-proof organic vodka and 10 different kinds of organic veggies, this sauce packs the punch when it comes to flavor and nutrition—with 15 different vitamins and minerals available in every bite. Unlike most vodka sauces, this one is non-dairy and completely plant-based; it uses cashew butter to give it that familiar smooth texture. This sauce works wonders when you need an elegant pasta dinner in a pinch. For an incredibly easy weeknight meal, toss it together cooked bacon (or Italian sausage), some delicious veggies (like spinach, tomatoes, kale, or bell pepper), and a serving of your favorite whole-wheat pasta.
The expert’s take: “This mouth-watering sauce is dairy-free and made with cashew butter and lots of yummy vegetables. It is also a good source of fiber and protein,” says Young.
Our tasting notes: “It’s shocking how this sauce actually touches on all of the different flavors listed on the front of the jar. From the ripened tomatoes to the orange carrots, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash, you’re getting a burst of flavor with every bite,” says Hickman.
Best healthy prepared main: Dr. Praeger’s Cauliflower Veggie Burger
Dr. Praeger’s knows how to do the veggie burger right. Made with cauliflower and other healthy whole grains—like brown rice, oat bran, and quinoa—each patty boasts 9 grams of gut-healthy fiber while still keeping the carbs (21 grams) and fats (10 grams) pretty low.
The expert’s take: “These contain yummy veggies rich in antioxidants and fiber (9 grams!). And this burger offers up 9 grams of plant protein, as well,” says Young.
Our tasting notes: “Compared to other cauli-based products that tend to have an overpowering cauliflower taste, Dr. Praeger’s burgers have a perfect blend of cauliflower, brown rice, and quinoa with every bite. While this veggie burger is packed with all kinds of good-for-you veggies, the main taste comes from the whole grains within the product. Quite honestly, it’s the best frozen veggie burger I’ve ever had, and I plan on stocking my freezer with more boxes ASAP,” says Hickman.
Best healthy seasoning: Momofuku Seasoned Salts
Similar to the seasonings used in Momofuku restaurants across the country, these seasoned salts are packed with umami-rich ingredients tested in the Momofuku Culinary Lab. Each pack comes with three flavors: savory (good for roasted or grilled meats and veggies), spicy (good for shrimp, stewed meats, mango, and even a pinch on your pizza), and tingly (good for fish, popcorn, and roasted veggies).
The expert’s take: “This umami seasoning can be used in place of regular salt. It is flavorful, has a distinct taste, and will add great zest to your favorite meals. Many foods including mushrooms are naturally rich in the amino acid glutamate imparting umami,” says Young.
Our tasting notes: “These spices are out-of-this-world tasty. In particular, the Tingly Seasoned Salt makes for the perfect coating when you need something to dress a salmon fillet to bake for dinner. It’s salty, it’s savory, and basically everything you would want a seasoned salt to be—but better,” says Hickman.
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This content was originally published here.