For convenience: The best store-bought snacks

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When your focus is eating whole foods you end up cooking a lot. There is just no way around it. And despite my commitment to our new diet, I occasionally miss the convenience of ready-made store bought foods. Not only do I have to make sure I cook a healthy dinner every night, but I now also have the added responsibility of making breakfast, lunch and snack foods as well. That’s what happens when you no longer eat store-bought cereals, tortillas, hummus, or granola bars.

Ever since we made this change a few months ago I have been on the prowl for store-bought items with a simple list of ingredients. We all already know about ready-to-eat snacks such as nuts, raisins, popcorn and fresh fruit, but here are some other convenient options that I have recently become a fan of…

Triscuits

We love that these crackers have only 3 ingredients as opposed to their Wheat Thins counterpart that boast a dozen or more ingredients including multiple sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup.

Lara Bars

These are a variety of fruit and nut bars some of which have as little as TWO ingredients! Until I came across these I never imagined a ready-made snack could exist with only two ingredients (and they are good too). Definitely choose these over options such as Nature Valley’s Trail Mix Fruit & Nut bars, which contain almost 20 ingredients including 3 different types of sweeteners. Here in Charlotte I have found Lara Bars sold at Trader Joe’s, Earthfare, and Harris Teeter.

Freeze Dried Fruits

We have always been fans of traditional dried fruits such as raisins, but I recently came across some freeze dried fruits that are similar in concept except crunchy in texture. I found the ones pictured at Earthfare, and they come in a variety of flavors such as pear, pineapple, banana, and apple. I have also seen other brands like Funky Monkey which can be purchased at Target.

Fruit Leathers / Strips

These fruit strips remind me a lot of Fruit Roll Ups although they have quite a different (and simpler) list of ingredients. Sold in a wide variety of flavors including cherry, mango, strawberry and grape, I have found them under various brand names at Target, Harris Teeter, Trader Joes and Earthfare. Despite having a very short list of 4 or 5 ingredients they do contain fruit juice concentrate (which is basically a sweetener) so we do view these as “treats” in our house. And my kids love them!

Applesauce On the Go

Even though my kids have become much more accepting of our whole foods diet they are still kids that of course love foods that come in fun packages. That is why I was so thankful to come across these Applesauce On the Go products (which again I have seen sold under different brand names at different stores). Despite these products containing fruit juice concentrate as one of their few ingredients the sugar content is not much different from straight-up applesauce out of a jar.

Milk Boxes

If you have kids consider bringing along these “milk boxes” instead of the more traditional juice boxes the next time you are on a picnic or lunch outing with friends. I do admit that juice boxes are convenient and quick to pack, but since juice is high in natural sugars and low in fiber (as opposed to the whole fruit before it is juiced) I opt for these milk boxes when we are out and about. My kids love milk at home and think these little milk boxes are fun to drink. We save them for special occasions when I know we will be around other juice box-drinking friends.

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77 comments to For convenience: The best store-bought snacks

  • I’ve seen the applesauce to go but didn’t think it was marked organic. Is it?

    • Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Barbara. No, they are not labeled as organic. And, I don’t have one in front of me to look at the ingredients. But, I know Trader Joe’s has them too and the only ingredients are apples and ascorbic acid. They are not labeled organic either. Sorry I can’t provide more info. There may be an organic one out there, I’m just not aware of it. Jill

    • jaci

      My target carries a brand of fruit and vegetable smash pouches that are organic …they are in the fruit roll up granola bar section.

    • Stephanie

      Whole Foods sells organic Go Go Squeeze exclusively. No one else has them organic.

  • Amy

    I always buy organic applesauce because apples are on the dirty dozen so wouldn’t applesauce that is non organic have a lot of pesticides?

  • Dina Schumer

    On the Horizon milks – is this for non-flavored only? I was checking our labels this weekend and we have the chocolate and strawberry flavors with cane sugar as a primary ingredient.

  • whitney

    What I did was I bought a box of those GoGo SqueeZ applesauces and then I washed them out and refilled them with my own apple sauce. I just put my apple sauce into one of those clear reusable condiment containers and squirted it right into the washed GoGo SqueeZ contaiters. It’s cheaper that way and you can use organic applesauce without the fruit juice concentrate.

  • Amy Breshears

    I would be cautious on the freeze dried fruits and check the country of origin. Many are products of China, which is notorious for spraying all kinds of horrible stuff on produce (including pesticides that are actually banned, and human waste). I love these freeze dried fruits, but have found that it is very difficult to find some that are NOT made in China!

    “In 2011, China’s Ministry of Agriculture announced an overall 20% reduction in pesticide use within the next five years. Currently, China has only seven percent of the world’s arable land but is the largest consumer of pesticides worldwide.”
    http://english.cri.cn/7146/2011/06/28/2702s645181.htm

  • Leigh

    I’m new to “real foods”. I’ve always heard that dried fruit is very high in sugar so I’ve avoided getting them, not only for me but also for my 18 month old. Any thoughts?

  • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

    Hi Leigh. Yes, there will be more concentrated natural fruit sugars but you can find dried fruit with no added sugar as well as some sweetened lightly with fruit juice. You will find a larger selection at health food stores. ~Amy

  • Jenny

    I’m still trying to figure out how to best feed and care for my four young children. I was happy to see that you recommend Triscuits, just for convenience-sake. However as I thought more about it, I realized they are likely loaded with GMOs. Are GMOs a consideration when distinguishing what is “real food”? Help!! I’m a bit overwhelmed.

  • farcar

    I’m trying to figure out if kirkland’s ancient grains crackers are made with whole grain wheat flour or if they are made with refined flour. the ingredients just say whole wheat… any idea?

  • AA

    I have seen those milk boxes on isle shelves and not refrigerated. What keeps them not require refrigeration like regular dairy products?

    • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hello AA. The milk is ultra pasteurized and the cartons are air tight. Once they are opened they do require refrigeration. ~Amy

  • Kelly

    Fuit leathers are SUPER EASY to make at home and a great way to keep any leftover fruits you have from spoiling. You can also over dry the leather and because it gets a bit crunchy, use it for a ‘candy’.

  • ryba

    My family is aware that I’ve started following a REAL FOOD diet. They were nice enough to get Triscuit Parmesan Garlic Thin Crisps Crackers, but they definitely didn’t read the host of ingredients on the box which includes MSG. It was nice of them to try though!

  • anna

    Triscuits are my go-to salty snack, but I recently noticed that the box says “BHT added to packaging material to preserve freshness.” Even though the BHT is not an ingredient in the Triscuits, should I be concerned that it is in the packaging material??

  • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

    Hi Anna. Currently, Lisa rarely purchases Triscuits. Those are earlier posts which require some revision. The Leakes buy Ak Mak whole grain crackers or whole wheat matzo as a rule now. Both can be found here: http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2011/04/21/for-convenience-the-best-store-bought-snacks-ii/ Regarding BHT, you might find this helpful: http://thegoodhuman.com/2009/09/24/what-is-bht-butylated-hydroxytoluene-and-why-you-should-avoid-it/. ~Amy

  • Kellie

    Do you have a milk alternative you recommend for kids with lactose. intolerance or milk allergies?

  • Nicole S.

    AAwww.. I was so excited about the triscuits until I looked up the ingredients. Soybean oil. Unfortunately that should be a HUGE red flag. 99% of all soybean is genetically modified. Hopefully I can find an organic version at Sprouts or Whole Foods. I will look :)

  • Nicole S.

    I like the fruits in pouches. I still buy the organic babyfoods that come in pouches for my daughters. They are 2 and 4. They LOVE them. Although I could probably find the same thing in a non baby version for cheaper… I should check that out.

  • JM

    Hi! A friend recomended your site and I’m glad she did.

    In this post you talk about Triscuits but i noticed that yes they have 3 ingredients but one of them is Soybean oil and in another post you recomend to avoid this oil. just confused.
    Thaks.

    • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi JM. Yes, Triscuits were a choice made early on in the initial 100 Days pledge. Lisa liked their very short ingredient list but no longer purchases them. ~Amy

  • What is the number one rule on your website? The first rule on your page “Real Foods: Defined”?

    “Whole Foods – foods in its most natural state”.

    Fruit leather, squeeze applesauce, Lara Bars, milk that doesn’t spoil, Triscuits? It doesn’t matter that they have less than five ingredients, or organic, or don’t have preservatives. These processed products are not “whole foods” and they are not “foods in its most natural state”.
    - Processed? Check.
    - High in sugars? Check.
    - Found in the middle of the grocery store? Check.
    - Something your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food? Check.

    You should NOT, NOT, NOT recommend these…what are they, anyway? These things aren’t food…maybe food products? This is a terrible post, I think you should take down this post TODAY.

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