6 SmartPoints-friendly swaps for foods you loved as a kid

Serve up some delicious nostalgia with these grownup takes on your favorite '90s foods, from pizza bagels to cereal—without breaking your Budget.

Remember as a child when you loved plain cruciferous vegetables? Just kidding—we don’t, either. If your ’80s or ’90s palate was anything like ours, you gravitated to snacks and meals that were sugary, salty, cheesy—basically, anything ultra tasty and, in some cases, nutritionally questionable.

At WW, we’d never tell you not to enjoy those old-school faves today if that’s your thing. But if you’re looking for a nostalgic treat that’s a bit more SmartPoints-friendly, we’ve got you covered. These six tasty ideas will deliver a delicious blast from the past without breaking your Budget.

1. If you were a big cereal fan

For pre-2000 kids, there was nothing quite like rolling out of bed on a Saturday morning to zero school, a TV cartoon marathon, and a bowl of sweet breakfast cereal, preferably overflowing. As adults, suffice it to say we have less leisure time—and are way more aware of serving sizes. At WW we’ve combined two childhood breakfast favourites into one delicious breakfast. Our Cinnamon waffle cereal was inspired by a recent social media trend, but is sure to feel nostalgic.

2. If you carry a torch for pizza bagels

The ’80s and ’90s were an era of wild hybrid products—see: lunchbox cassette players, and shoes fitted with tiny trampolines. One mashup to beat them all? Pizza bagels. Packed with flavor and ready in minutes, these were the ultimate after-school snack. That said, you may not have realized how salty pizza bagels can be—a common quality of many premade frozen meals and snacks. Fear not, you can still enjoy the taste (and convenience!) even if you are watching your sodium intake, says Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, head of nutrition and wellness at WW. The key is choosing sodium-conscious ingredients: Start with a whole-grain English muffin or mini bagel, then add a lower-sodium marinara sauce and shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese. You can also play around with toppings like fresh veggies and lean proteins to create a more filling bite. And if you have a little extra time or would simply prefer a completely homemade version, try WW’s pepperoni bagel bites. Made with our popular two-ingredient dough, these satisfying, cheesy snacks are just 3 SmartPoints across plans.

3. If ice-cream cups were your jam

Who can forget those single-serve ice creams with the wood spoons glued to the lids? Back in the day, you could hardly attend a school mixer or neighbourhood BBQ without a frosty cup in hand. Today, consider getting your creamy, frozen goodness from an unlikely source: bananas! With a dash of vanilla extract, pureed frozen bananas form the base for a delicious frozen treat dubbed “nice” cream. Use it to create classic blends like strawberry and chocolate cookie dough, or add additional fruits for custom flavours. The banana base and fruit-only blends are 0 SmartPoints across plans. Plus, you’ll get all the nutrients of bananas, London says, including potassium, magnesium, fibre, vitamin B6, and vitamin C.

4. If you were a PB&J kid

It’s easy to understand why peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches have long been a lunchbox staple: Kids love the sweet-savoury combo, while parents appreciate how quickly they can slap those sammies together. But who says the PB&J vibes have to stop in adulthood? A few simple swaps can help you level up this classic lunch. Start with 100% whole-grain bread, which contains fibre and other key nutrients, then spread with your favorite nut butter. Whether you go with traditional peanut or another variety like almond butter, you’ll get plant-based protein and healthful fats! Finally, finish your sandwich assembly with fresh berries or thin slices of apple. You’ll get the same burst of sweetness without the added sugar found in many jarred jellies, notes nutritionist Leslie Fink, MS, RD, a recipe editor at WW. Since fruits are ZeroPoint foods across plans (compared with typical jellies, which are around 3 SmartPoints per 1-Tbsp serving) you can pile that sandwich as high as you like.

5. If boxed mac and cheese was your fave

For many kids, few food substances are more iconic than the bright-orange cheese powder in a box of mac and cheese. The rub is that easy-prep mac and cheese can also be high in sodium, with a 1/3-cup serving hovering around 8 SmartPoints across plans. Luckily, it’s simple to make a more budget-friendly version of this creamy classic dish: Just amp up the veggies! Try halving the cheese in your go-to recipe and bulking up the sauce with cooked, puréed butternut squash or carrots. This creamy version uses cauliflower for 6 SmartPoints per serving and a healthy payload of nutrients—all at about one-third the sodium of boxed options.

6. If you grew up devoted to donuts

Before we were all chugging cold brew and sipping mocha lattes, trips to the local coffee shop meant just one thing: donuts. Whether you liked yours glazed, frosted, or bursting with jelly, there was nothing more amazing than a sweet circular treat to start (and/or end) the school day. Nowadays, if you don’t want to part with 17 SmartPoints for a deep-fried, super-sugary confection, consider baking your own donuts at home using a silicone donut pan. WW’s delicious recipes range from classic cinnamon sugar to Strawberry-lemon. You can even go savoury with potato or mac-and-cheese versions! These donuts are no more than 6 SmartPoints a pop, so experiment away.

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Nicole Saporita is a senior content manager for consumer wellness at WW. A writer, editor, and content strategist based in New York, she specializes in health & wellness, lifestyle, consumer products, and more. Her work has appeared in Good Housekeeping, Prevention, and REDBOOK magazines.