5 or Less Ingredients

New to our stores in 2020 are Nutrition Pathways. Nutrition Pathways are the icons printed on the shelf tags in-store and can be found when shopping online via the Fastlane at shopthefastlane.com.  Due to limited space, up to four pathways can be printed on the shelf tags in-store, but all pathways that a product qualifies for can be found on Fastlane.

Nutrition Pathways highlight the most nutritious foods as well as popular lifestyle choices throughout our store.  Whether managing a health condition, following a food lifestyle, or just wanting to make healthier choices, we will help you find the better-for-you and lifestyle items that you are looking for.

This pathway has five or fewer ingredients.

The fewer ingredients, the better?  Sometimes! The next Nutrition Pathway we are excited to highlight is 5 or Less Ingredients!  Just as the pathway states, a product within this pathway has five or fewer ingredients. The food maybe naturally occurring with nothing added such as an apple from our Produce Department or could have up to four added, for a total of five ingredients such as in applesauce made from apples, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and ascorbic acid (vitamin C).  

Like the apple, many whole foods and unprocessed and unseasoned foods in the fresh Produce Department and canned and frozen fruits and veggies sections as well as whole grain pastas, cheeses, and plain meats are part of the 5 or Less Ingredients pathway.  While this Nutrition Pathway may highlight more nutritious foods, it is not a guarantee of better nutrition. Butter, some varieties of chips, and even cookies can be found within the 5 or Less Ingredients pathway.  

Choosing foods with 5 or less ingredients may help you find the less processed food options, but there are still many other healthy foods that may contain more than five ingredients, such as the Our Family Toasted Oats cereal.  Most cereals are fortified with vitamins and minerals and each vitamin and minerals is counted as a separate ingredient since they are not naturally occurring.  With more than 5 total ingredients, fortified cereals are excluded from this pathway. 

It is important to note, some foods may contain less than five ingredients, but are not part of the pathway yet since the manufacturer has not provided the ingredient list and product data to be analyzed.  This can happen with any pathway since we must rely on the food companies to submit their product information in order to be considered for pathways.   Another example is with different sizes of products such as a small vs large bottle of the same brand/variety of hot sauce.  If the price is different at the register, that food brand/company is responsible for submitting product information for each item.  Just because information was submitted for the large bottle, does not mean we can apply the same Nutrition Pathways to the small bottle.  Please be patient with us as we educate food companies and gather all product information.  Additionally, if a manufacturer changes the recipe or reformulates a food, they have been instructed to submit updated product information.  The foods within the Nutrition Pathways are to the best of our knowledge.  

Looking for the 5 or Less Ingredients Nutrition Pathway can serve as a guide to choosing less processed foods.  Shop in-store and on Fastlane for 5 or Less Ingredient foods.

As a partner on your wellness journey, we are here to help! Email our Registered Dietitian at [email protected] with any questions on Nutrition Pathways, Kids Crew, or nutrition & health.  

This medical and/or nutritional information is not intended to be a substitute for individual advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Stephanie Edson Wellness Specialist SpartanNash Company


Stephanie is an award-winning registered dietitian who believes in empowering every individual to make nutritious food choices to support a healthy lifestyle. She believes in the power of food as medicine and loves sharing about nutrition with others.