Do you suffer from portfolio envy? Do you see a stock such as Jacobs Engineering (NYSE: JEC), which appreciated some 130% in 2007, and kick yourself because it wasn't in your portfolio? Do you think of, also up more than 130% in 2007, and wonder why you didn't invest in it?

Well, calm down. There's a reason you never found these stocks or recognized their potential: You don't spend most of each day studying the stock market. You don't scour annual reports and financial filings for a living. You don't crunch stock numbers regularly. You are a regular person with a regular life.

But wait!
Fortunately, being a regular person with a regular life doesn't mean you're out of luck. You have options. One option I rely on more and more these days is mutual funds. By doing so, I let skilled professionals choose the most promising stocks they can find for my investments. And better still, they decide when to buy and when to sell, sparing me from having to keep up with lots of companies.

Look at the Fidelity Contrafund (FCNTX) mutual fund, for example. According to Yahoo! Finance, the fund owns roughly 6% of Jacobs Engineering. It also has, among its recent top holdings, shares of Genentech (NYSE: DNA), which has a five-year average annual return of 31%; Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ), with a five-year average of 22%; and Schlumberger (NYSE: SLB) -- its five-year average is 34%.

The fund with the biggest chunk of is Legg Mason Value Trust (LMVTX), which owns more than 4% of the company. The fund's top holdings recently included Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO), JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), and American International Group (NYSE: AIG).

The downside
So should you snap up shares of these funds as soon as you can get to your checkbook? Not necessarily. For one thing, the Contrafund is closed to new investors. Meanwhile, the Legg Mason fund has struggled in recent years, lagging the market.

Just because a fund owns a lot of shares in a super performer, that doesn't mean its other holdings are similarly golden. You need to be picky when choosing funds. You want ones with low fees and smart managers with impressive track records and philosophies you admire. Ideally, you want no-load fees and low turnover in the fund.

The majority of managed mutual funds out there actually underperform the market. So be choosy -- you want only the most promising funds you can find.

The upside
And it is possible to find such funds. You can do so yourself, perhaps by starting at and doing a lot of digging. 

Another approach I recommend (because I do it myself): Check out our Motley Fool Champion Funds newsletter. It arrives each month laden with mutual fund recommendations and updates and it educates you along the way. Its picks are beating the market 28% vs. 9%. You can try it free for 30 days, when you'll have full access to all past issues. You can read about every recommendation in detail -- with no obligation.

This article was originally published on Dec. 4, 2007. It has been updated. 

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns no shares of any company mentioned in this article. JPMorgan Chase is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Yahoo! is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Try our investing services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool isFools writing for Fools.