Prepackaged Snacks for School

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The other day my brother asked my opinion on some organic prepackaged snacks they were considering buying. He said that for their busy family (which includes two working parents and two kids, ages 8 and 4) it is important for their school snacks to be individually wrapped. After reviewing the list of ingredients he emailed me I thought the “Organic Jammy Sammy Snack Size Sandwich Bars” had both pros and cons:

Pros:

  • It was organic (although just because something is organic does not mean it is okay…there are a lot of highly processed organic foods out there)
  • It contained whole grain oats
  • It contained whole grain barley flour
  • Salt was the last ingredient on the list, which means it was what they used the least of

Cons:

  • The first ingredient (and what it contained the most of) was the strawberry filling which lists cane juice (a sweetener similar to sugar) as its top ingredient
  • The strawberry filling also contained rice starch and pretty much anything with the word starch (like corn starch) is highly processed/refined
  • The strawberry filling also contained citric acid (a preservative)
  • In addition to the cane juice in the strawberry filling these bars also had two other forms of sweeteners listed – agave and more evaporated cane juice

And in summary I said they were probably better than a Fig Newton or Nutrigrain bar (which I think must be similar from looking at the picture), but they don’t look fabulous mainly because of the sweetener issue. I suggested they try to find something with whole-grains as the first ingredient (instead of the sweet filling) and not having any sweeteners listed in the top three ingredients.

So after our discussion I decided it would be a fun challenge to try to find as many prepackaged “real food” snacks as I could. I’ve done a few posts on snacks in the past, but never before using “individually wrapped” as the main criteria. So there may be a little bit of overlap with some of my previous snack posts. But without further ado, here is what I came up with (and also shipped to my niece and nephew!)…

  • Small packages of pecan pieces that I found in the baking section of the store…unfortunately this is one of the things on the list that is not organic, but again that was not my main criteria
  • Little boxes of organic raisins
  • Individual bags of almonds
  • Fruit leathers (found at both our main grocery store and Target)
  • Packages of sunflower seeds (still in the shell)
  • Funky Monkey freeze dried fruit (they have this brand at both Earthfare and Target)
  • Organic mandarin oranges that are actually preserved in orange juice instead of another type of sugary syrup
  • Lara bars which are fruit and nut bars with a very small list of ingredients (found at Earthfare, Harris Teeter, and Target)
  • Individually wrapped bags of popcorn, which I wish weren’t cheese flavored and I also wish were organic, but this was all I could find (and it is hard to ignore the fact that popcorn is 100% whole grain!)
  • Bananas…obviously everyone knows about bananas, but they do conveniently come in their own little individually wrapped package (made by nature of course) so I sent these to sort of just make a point. And I sent two little packets of peanut butter that could be sent to school with the bananas since they do not go to nut-free schools.
  • Applesauce in little squeeze packets
  • Package of pumpkin seeds
  • Another brand of freeze dried fruit

So from what I heard the package arrived, and the kids “tore” into it…which was good to know! And when I spoke to my 8-year-old niece on the phone, she said that she was already familiar with some of the things I sent, and excited about trying the new stuff. The only thing she said she would not eat are the raisins because she already knows she doesn’t like them. Starting next week they will pull from that box for their school snacks each day, and I certainly look forward to hearing the outcome!

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