Popular Processed and Prepared Foods That are Actually Healthy

Senior couple eating fast food together.

Dietary flexibility is important for health and wellbeing. Many popular processed foods offer convenience that seniors need, but they could come with assumptions that they are unhealthy simply because they come from a can or box. Almost all foods are processed to some extent1. You shouldn’t be afraid of foods that are easy to prepare and eat. If you’re reading this article, you’re probably hoping to integrate more healthy practices into your day-to-day life. Read on for some grocery shopping tips that can help make your life easier and healthier.

Tips for Picking out Healthy Processed Foods

Heading to the grocery store for some easy-to-prepare foods but not sure where to start? These tips can help you pick out healthy processed foods when you’re grabbing groceries. You should keep an eye out for:

  • Foods you could theoretically make at home
  • Foods with short ingredient lists
  • Ingredients you could find in your own pantry 
  • Ingredients your grandparents could recognize
Using these guidelines, you can steer your grocery haul in a healthier direction. 

Healthy Processed and Prepared Foods 

Now, let’s add some healthy processed and prepared foods to your next grocery list. Buying and eating the foods below is one step toward a healthier lifestyle.

Canned Beans

Canned beans are perfect when you need to throw together a meal on the fly. Beans contain a high amount of fiber and protein. Look for a low-sodium option or make sure to rinse the beans under tap water for a few seconds to lower the sodium content. Making beans from scratch often entails spending hours soaking, rinsing, and boiling the legumes. Instead, consider grabbing a can of your favorite beans to make your go-to bean-based meals. Canned beans are a low-stress option when preparing dried beans takes too much time and energy. 

Dairy/Soy Milk

The milk you buy at the grocery store is pasteurized, which means the manufacturer has processed it. Milk is an amazing source of vitamin D, phosphorus, calcium, protein, and potassium. If you’re lactose intolerant, opt for soy milk. This plant-based milk contains complete proteins, and its vitamin profile compares to dairy milk.

Packaged Salads/Precut Vegetables

As you age, certain activities become more dangerous or nearly impossible to do safely. Precut vegetables and packaged salads are a lifesaver for people who have difficulty using kitchen tools2. Easily add precut vegetables to any meal by eating them raw, steaming them, or roasting them. Packaged salads usually come with dressing. Try to use less dressing than what is provided to cut down on sodium and sugar. Stash some seeds and nuts in your pantry and use them as salad toppers. 

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt packs a punch. This delicious yogurt is high in protein and low in sugar, making it a great healthy option. Plus, it’s full of micronutrients, including calcium, that your body needs. Look for a low-fat option, or even a zero-fat option, and pay close attention to your toppings. Fruit is the healthiest topping option, but you could also use local honey and chia seeds for an added boost of energy.


Saturday morning cartoons and cereal, anyone? Yes, cereal really is part of a healthy lifestyle! Breakfast cereals are a great source of essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin D, zinc, and iron. Choose cereals that have whole grains as a top ingredient and put a little high-fiber cereal in your bowl, as well. Top your cereal with milk, fruit, and chia seeds for added health benefits. 

Canned/Frozen Fish

You might have heard of the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, and fatty fish. The heart-healthy Mediterranean diet might increase weight loss. Pick out some canned or frozen fish the next time you’re at the grocery store and try your hand at the Mediterranean diet. If you’re concerned about sodium levels, look for canned fish that have no added salt. 

Nut Butters

Nut butters are so easy to use. Whip up a classic nut butter and jelly sandwich, add nut butter to your Greek yogurt, or spread it on apple slices. Nut butters are high in protein, fiber and healthy fats, but that’s not all. Nut butters are also chock-full of vitamins B6 and E, niacin, folic acid, magnesium, potassium, copper, and zinc. Keep an eye on the ingredients list, though. Some nut butters have added sugar and salt.

Frozen Fruits and Vegetables

Add frozen fruits and vegetables to your grocery list, especially in the winter. Frozen fruits and vegetables typically go straight from the field to the freezing apparatus, and then to your home. You can have the farm-fresh taste of summer during the dead of winter. Fruits specifically have fiber, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K. Add them to a morning smoothie or put them on top of Greek yogurt.

Lentils/Brown Rice

Pick up some dry or cooked lentils on your next grocery trip. You can add them to a prepared salad as a delicious, health-boosting topper. Lentils contain high protein and fiber, as well as magnesium, zinc, and iron. You could also try out whole-grain brown rice. Microwaveable bags of brown rice are easy to prepare and make a great addition to burritos or stir-fry. 


Hummus is a delicious protein option for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. Whether you’ve already given this chickpea dip a chance or not, you’re sure to love it. Hummus is an easy addition to sandwiches and wraps, or a standalone meal with vegetable dippers3. The high-protein spread also contains essential vitamins and minerals. 

Rotisserie Chicken

Craving chicken nuggets from your favorite fast-food restaurant? Buy a rotisserie chicken to have around the house and you won’t miss the nuggets. It’s a great alternative to frozen chicken nuggets, as well.  If you remove the skin, you’ll reduce salt and fat content. You can add precooked rotisserie chicken to pastas, casseroles, sandwiches, chilis, and just about any other dish you could prepare.

Healthy Living Doesn’t Stop with Your Diet

Whenever you read articles like this one, you’re taking steps to learn about living a healthier lifestyle. However, you can apply a healthy mindset to more than just your diet. You’ll benefit long-term from making little tweaks across the board. 

Here are a few more strategies for incorporating healthy living into your everyday routines:
  • Schedule regular doctor’s appointments. Staying on top of your health involves getting routine check-ups from a medical professional. This way, you can make sure all your vitals are within a healthy target range and make changes as necessary.
  • Reduce stress. When you reduce stress, you might be able to sleep better, keep excess weight off, boost your mood, improve your immune system, and feel better overall. There are several ways you can reduce stress. Try mediating, spending time outside, and chatting with loved ones to start.
  • Drink lots of water. The recommended amount of water you should drink per day depends on your body type and health history. When you stay hydrated, you help cool down your body, balance your mood, and prevent kidney stones and constipation. Increase your motivation to hydrate by picking out a reusable water bottle that you like or adding fruits to your water.
  • Connect with loved ones. Social isolation and loneliness are little known dangers, especially in the post-COVID era[4]. Loneliness has long-lasting health impacts that can take just as much of a toll as smoking 15 cigarettes per day. Take time to connect with loved ones and deepen your social ties. You could reach out to family members, friends, and neighbors throughout the week to maintain a strong social life.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise boosts your brain health, strengthens your muscles and bones, and helps with weight management, among other benefits. Depending on your personal health, you should engage in moderate exercise for 20-30 minutes, 5 times per week. Speak with your doctor about an exercise plan that works for you. Take walks around nearby parks with an On-the-Go Wrist Watch Medical Alert + GPS + Pedometer. 
  • Wear a personal alarm button. Falls can cause all sorts of long-term health issues, and some falls are fatal. Wearing a personal alarm button ensures that you’ll get the help you need if you take a fall. Read more below about how this emergency response solution adds to your healthy lifestyle.
Emergency Alert Systems for Continued Health 

A medical alert system supplements your healthy living journey. If you’ve never used one before, here’s how it works: If you fall, you’ll press the button on your medical alarm and connect with an agent at a 24/7 Command Center. This agent is highly trained and certified in order to best support you. First, your agent will send emergency responders to your location and stay on the line with you until they arrive. Next, the agent will contact loved ones in your Circle of Care to provide an on-the-spot update of your situation.

Luckily, you won’t have to sacrifice in order to afford this potentially life-saving medical alert device. Alert1 offers month-to-month plans that accommodate your budget. You won’t have to lock into a long-term contract that puts a strain on your savings. Even better, you’ll never pay for multiple button pushes or “false alarms.” Your health is a top priority, but it shouldn’t cost you extra.

Choose an emergency alert system that fits your healthy lifestyle. Leaning into a daily exercise routine that takes you out of the house? Try an On-the-Go + Fall Detection button alarm. Hosting loved ones for dinner a few times per week to maintain a robust social life? An In-Home + Fall Detection option works perfectly for you. An easy addition to your healthy lifestyle is just a few clicks away!

1 Kubala, Jillian. 2021, Sept. 14. Healthy Food vs. Highly Processed Food: What to Know. Healthline.com. Healthy Food vs. Highly Processed Food: What to Know.

2 Danovich, Tove. 2016, Mar. 7. Pre-Peeled Oranges: What Some Call ‘Lazy’ Others Call A ‘Lifesaver.’ NPR. Pre-Peeled Oranges: What Some Call ‘Lazy’ Others Call A ‘Lifesaver.’

3 Webster, Katie. 2017, Aug. 5. Veggie & Hummus Sandwich. EatingWell.com. Veggie & Hummus Sandwich.

4 Bailey, Eileen. 2022, Mar. 3. The Post-COVID Era May Present Special Challenges for Seniors. Healthline.com. The Post-COVID Era May Present Special Challenges for Seniors.