Our 2023 Parents Best Food Awards are here. Whether you’re demonstrating the thrill of a great meal to an early eater, encouraging your choosy cherubs to embrace a wider variety of foods, or fueling a hungry tween as they race between school and soccer practice, you want to make sure you feed your kids something healthful—without spending your day as a short-order snack-chef.
Millions of words have been written about how and what to feed your kids, but when you hit the grocery store to stock up on after-school snacks or open the fridge to make dinner, the confusion only grows. Researchers estimate 15,000 new foods hit the market each year, adding to the difficulty of balancing nutritional needs with kid-pickiness, adult convenience, and household budget. That’s why we’ve taken on the task of scanning the shelves for the coolest, easiest, and most delicious things to feed your family.
The winners of the 2023 Parents Best Food Awards were carefully chosen by our panel of experts and editors. The team reviewed and taste-tested more than 100 products to find 26 winners, based on flavor, appeal, and convenience. These winners stood out because they made our lives, as parents, easier—by meeting our needs and making our kids happy.
How We Chose
Our 2023 Parents Best Food Awards were carefully chosen by our panel of experts and editors. We tasted, tested, and vetted a wide variety of products so you could give your family quality foods—that, of course, tasted the best.
By the numbers
- Top and emerging food brands submitted almost 200 different varieties of snacks, frozen dinners, mealtime essentials, sweet treats, and meal subscriptions for testing.
- 26 children age one to 12 tasted, reviewed, and submitted their thoughts on the products. Each product was also expertly reviewed and/or tested by our team of parenting pros. The items were thoroughly tested by real parents and their families. Consumer reviews were also considered.
- We chose 26 winners across our four categories: best for early eaters, best snacks for kids, best frozen foods for kids, and best meal subscription services for families.
How our winners made the cut
- Full of good stuff. Feeding kids would be easy if it didn’t matter what they ate, but as parents, we try to make sure our kids eat lots of the nutrients they need to fuel their days (and not the opposite). In order to be eligible for consideration, all products needed to adhere to the standards we stand by, which means no artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated oils, nitrates, artifical coloring, or high fructose corn syrup allowed.
- Shiny and new. Innovation is exciting (and our children tend to tire of the same foods quickly), so we always weigh our choices heavily toward items that get creative.
- Everybody to the table. We look for foods that help bring everyone to the table. Our list highlights products not only with winning flavors but that work for kids with limited options, such as gluten-free snacks, companies that avoid allergens, and plant-based frozen treats.
- Looks matter. Like all of us, kids eat with their eyes first. Packaging and products had to entice the entire family.
- Flavor to savor. Most importantly, the products we chose as winners had to taste great!
Winners: Best for Early Eaters
Best Puffs: Serenity Kids Carrot & Beet Grain-Free Puffs
Root vegetables take the lead in bringing savory flavors and garden-fresh nutrients to snack time in these cassava-based puffs. With the addition of olive oil—and the lack of added sugars or grain filler—these are a more healthful version of the perennial toddler favorite.
Best Freeze-Dried Snack: Simple Truth Organic Banana & Strawberry Freeze-Dried Smoothie Melts
The ideal diaper bag-sized package of a sweet treat, these melts are perfect for staving off a mid-morning meltdown or capturing the attention of an early eater. They also melt on the tongue, so parents can rest easy as their kiddo explores new textures and flavors.
Best Vitamin-Packed Pouch: GoGo squeeZ Happy BrainZ
Kids love the mixed fruit flavors of this easy-open pouch while parents find the nutrition appealing. These pouches are formulated to supply kids with plenty of omega-3s and iron, both essential for growing healthy brains, plus they have prebiotic plant fiber.
Best Pouch Flavor: Gerber Plant-Tastic Pouches
This mix of kid-pleasing fruits and palate-stretching flavors—like kale, chickpeas, and navy beans—gets toddlers excited while keeping parents happy with the slate of wholesome and organic real produce. Trust us. These pouches are delicious and nutricious.
Best Jarred Baby Food: Beech-Nut Naturals Immune System Support
Beech-Nut’s commitment to safety and thorough screening and testing of their foods have long made them a favorite for parents—the timeless, elegant jar shape is just a bonus. Now, the company has added another way to keep your kid healthier: blending their whole food ingredients with beta-glucan derived from yeast to boost your little one’s tiny immune system.
Winners: Best Snacks for Kids
Best Fruit-Based Snack: Moon Fruit
The combination of colorful, sweet, and crunchy in these freeze-dried fruit snacks entices kids, and the simple list of healthful smoothie ingredients does the same for parents. Big fun and flavor in such a light snack make it perfect for staving off snack-hounds in the face of approaching mealtimes.
Best Bar: Blake’s Seed-Based Chewy Granola Bars
Last year, we raved about this allergen-free brand’s vegan, gluten-free, nut-free crispy treats, and now they’re back with an equally amazing—and equally inclusive—chewy version. Sunflower and flax seeds add hearty nutrition to these bars, while the apple-cinnamon, chocolate chip, and birthday cake flavors keep kids excited.
Best Chip or Puff: Siete Foods Queso Grain Free Puff Snacks
Full of Texas-sized flavor, these dairy-free, grain-free puffs crunch with pizzazz. The lentil-based snack uses nutritional yeast and vegetable powders to create a beguilingly savory queso dust, perfect for the kid who wants to reach for Takis, but these avocado oil-fried puffs are about as wholesome as a chip-style snack can get—without sacrificing any taste to get there.
Best Spread or Dip: Nutty Gourmet Chocolate Walnut Butter
If anything can unseat Nutella as the ultimate kid enticer, this thicker, richer, and even chocolatier spread from fourth-generation walnut growers in California could do the trick. Unlike Nutella, where nuts are the third ingredient (after sugar and palm oil) this one puts walnuts first, packing in the omega-3 fats, antioxidants, and plant-based protein.
Best Protein: The New Primal Snack Mates – Pizza Flavor
Remember the “meat sticks” of your childhood? You know, the ones you would get at drugstores and gas stations and snack on during family vacations and road trips? Well, these pizza-flavored chicken sticks evoke some of the same enticing flavors but with ingredients you actually want to put in your kid’s lunchbox: antibiotic-free chicken, vegetable-based seasonings, and a hint of sweetness from honey. They come in packs of five, but each stick is individually wrapped, making them easy to slip into a backpack or keep handy in the car for a post-practice protein boost.
Best Pouch: Outshine Fruit and Yogurt Smoothies
These convenient, shelf-stable products are a great source of nutrition and energy. They are also delicious. And Outshine’s mix of real fruit and nonfat yogurt is a winner, with kids and adults alike. Little ones will enjoy the ease with which they can consume their snack and older children will appreciate the more complex and mature flavors of these easy, on-the-go smoothies: Pear Vanilla, Peach Raspberry, Strawberry Coconut, and Blueberry Pear.
Best Gluten-Free Sweet: Oreo Gluten Free Mint Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
Oreo has achieved the holy grail of big brand gluten-free snacks: its Gluten Free Mint Chocolate Sandwich Cookies not only match the classic variety, but even improve on it. The crisp, snappy cookies have the same real cocoa flavor, and the mint creme filling gives it a refreshing touch. Perfect for serving at parties with mixed or unknown gluten-tolerances. The only downside to this perfect party favor? The addition of synthetic food coloring, which we know some parents like to steer clear of.
Best Vegan Sweet: Soom Tahini Bites
We were worried that these tahini-based squares looked enough like mini brownies that kids would be disappointed when they bit in, but there was just enough chocolate in the chewy oat and date energy bites to keep them happy. And unlike the melty mess of keeping a brownie on hand, these come in handy resealable bags that slip nicely into a day bag, making them easy to dole out as kids get cranky on long outings.
Winners: Best Frozen Foods for Kids
Best Appetizer: Snow Days Pizza Bites
Most of us grew up on pizza bites. The cheese- and sauce-filled snacks were staples in many homes. But these grain-free cassava crust bites take something we all knew and loved to the next level, mixing the traditional snack with a homemade empanada. Exciting flavors like Taco (with sausage, beans, cheddar, and sauce) and Buffalo Chicken tempt even the pickiest eaters, and the easy air-fry option cooking pleases parents.
Best Vegan Appetizer: Wholly Veggie! Mozzarella Style Sticks
Taking the cheese and gluten out of mozzarella sticks seems like an impossible task, but this innovative company knocks it out of the park with its melty, gooey rendition. About the size and shape of tater tots, each stick of potato-, chickpea-, and coconut-derived starch, protein, and oil comes in a crisp coating of panko bolstered by cauliflower. The low-stress prep is a plus, too; a quick trip from the delightfully bright packaging into the air-fryer and these are ready to serve.
Most Versatile Option: Mrs. T’s Mini-Pierogies
Forget the adage, it turns out smaller is better—at least when it comes to pierogies. These mini versions of the traditional potato-filled pasta open up new possibilities. Along with the usual options to cook them in a pot or a pan, these make excellent two-bite snacks after crisping up in the air fryer, an easy lunch, or a fun addition to the grill when threaded onto a skewer.
Best Vegan Meal: MìLà Shanghai Scallion Oil Noodle
As easy and quick to prepare as instant ramen, but with the fresh, complex flavors and tender textures of restaurant noodles, MìLà’s rendition of this simple Chinese dish impressed tasters of all ages. Their excellent shipping program (with melt-free guarantee) cements their place in our hearts—and freezers.
Best Kid Dinner: Green Giant Dino Broccoli and Cheese Veggie Tots
When the adults are going out (or ordering out) but the kids still need a meal, nothing is easier than dino tots. They have the crisp and fluffy texture of a tater tot, carry the nutrition of the broccoli inside, the flavor of the cheese holding it together, and come in the universally beloved shape of dinosaurs. What’s not to love!
Best Family Dinner: Newman’s Own Quattro Formaggi Stone-Fired Crust Pizza
This frozen pizza could match up against the top restaurant pizza in most parts of America. The flavorful crust gets crunchy but retains its chew. The cheese melts but never sogs, and the ingredients all taste fresh. For those too old to care about their dinner coming in stegosaurus shape, this was a clear favorite. And, as long as the few basil leaves got picked off their slice, the small set agreed.
Best Dessert: Helados Mexico Churro Cookie Sandwich with Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Pieces
Ice cream sandwiches get a little more exciting with the addition of cinnamon-dusted churro-flavored cookies—and chunks of chocolate in the ice cream. But what made these a winner wasn’t just the awesome flavor: it was the always-soft texture of the cookies, even straight from the freezer.
Best Vegan Dessert: Talenti Alphonso Mango Mini Sorbetto Bar
Kids love foods they can serve themselves—pre-portioned snacks, bite-sized treats, and the like—and that’s one of the reasons these small-size sorbets on a stick have such wide appeal. They are the same silky-smooth Talenti sorbet that children and adults already love. But for parents, the real appeal is the real fruit, which is the main ingredient—making it an easy choice for a midday (or midnight) snack.
Winners: Best Meal Subscription Services for Families
Best for Kid Food: Nurture Life
The dieticians driving Nurture Life’s menu craft nutritionally balanced versions of beloved kids’ finger foods, meals. and snacks that make sure your little one gets started on whole foods from the get-go. And since these fresh meals are all already prepared, you just need to heat and serve.
starting at $6.55 a meal
Best for the Whole Family: HelloFresh
HelloFresh delivers fresh, healthful ingredients for dinners that kids like and nutritionists approve of. While the meals can get a little repetitive, the company is clever about working foods children might turn their nose up at (like Brussels sprouts) into familiar-favorite dishes (like pasta), to help get kids eating their veggies and proteins.
Best for Babies and Toddlers: Little Spoon
Personalized nutrition scales down to a smaller size with Little Spoon. Developed by nutritionists and pediatricians, Little Spoon delivers baby and toddler food packed with the nutrients children need for each step of healthy growth and tailors packages to your little one’s specific tastes as you move through the offerings.
Best for Baby-Led Weaning: Tiny Organics Baby Meals
Put your baby on the path to a broad and healthy palate with Tiny Organics’ delivered finger foods. The organic, plant-based dishes support baby-led weaning by introducing your infant to whole, delicious foods.
Best for Variety: Sunbasket
Sunbasket offers hundreds of options, including meal kits you and your family cook yourselves and oven-ready meals. They have tons of customizations for dietary preferences, but each delivery is always packed with nutritious whole foods. Plus, you can order groceries and healthy snacks from the company too.