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Which pre-packaged foods to buy and avoid

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It’s 8:29 a.m on Monday. You slept through both alarms, you have no clean socks to wear and you have to be at work across town in 30 minutes. On top of everything else, the $3.11 in sofa change you found last night while watching reruns of Cake Boss on Netflix is only enough to score you a tuna salad sandwich from the break room vending machine. Luckily, you thought ahead and stocked your pantry over the weekend with some healthy in-between-meal snacks. Right? Well, if you didn’t have time to go shopping on Sunday between sawing logs and watching March Madness, shoot down to the grocery store and pick up a few things.

 

What to buy:

Frozen Fruit– Contrary to popular belief, frozen fruits are just as fresh, if not more, that the items you will find in the produce section. The process in which the producer inspects frozen fruit for signs of rot or mold before being shipped for packaging ensure that the seller receives the freshest produce possible. Additionally, frozen food storage allows consumers to purchase fruits when the fresh alternatives are too expensive, or out of season. When you’re craving something sweet, but don’t want to expend the calories and fat on a doughnut, pack a tupperware of frozen mangos or kiwis.

String cheese– When you were a kid, the greatest thing your mom could ever pack in a brown bag lunch was Yoohoo! chocolate milk, a pizza Lunchable and a stick of string cheese. Apples, what are those? Now that you’re an adult, eating cheese means buying overpriced wine pairings and a cheese board at a trendy, new restaurant in NOHO. Although processed cheese has a considerable amount of sodium, they are also packed with protein and calcium. Go back to your childhood every once in a while and throw a stick of string cheese in your lunch. Plus, its a great excuse to play with your food.

Nutrition bars– Try to avoid the obviously unhealthy, candy bar-esque “granola bars.” Sure, you’re getting a mouthful of granola, but you’re also ingesting copious amounts of manufactured sugars, saturated fats and sodium alternatives. Good rule of thumb when choosing nutrition bars: If it looks as though Bambi wouldn’t mind splitting one with you, it’s probably alright. Specific brands of nutrition bars, such as Kashi and Special K, incorporate the natural goodness of whole grains with added bonuses, like protein-packed peanuts or antioxidant-rich dehydrated fruit pieces. Check out this list to see how your favorite nutrition bar stacks up against the rest.

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Jake Fredericks

Jake Fredericks is a senior reporter and copy editor for the Daily Sundial. Jake graduated culinary school in 2011 and has been working in professional kitchens for 6 years. His enjoyment for cooking and creativity in writing has given him a unique skill set, which he has applied wholly to his goals as a food critic and eventual restauranteur. When he is not working or in class, he finds solace in writing, surfing, traveling and riding his motorcycle.

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