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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33 comments to Prepackaged Snacks for School

  • Erica

    Very interesting post! I am very new to looking into real foods, etc. but a friend of mine that has already made the transition suggested I start with items that do NOT contain high fructose corn syrup or corn syrup. It has been VERY eye opening and I cannot believe the amount of products out there that contain that alone!
    As for the previous post about homemade cleaners, etc. We made our own laundry detergent, and it lasted us 2 years+! Only 3 ingredients and works just like anything that you would buy at the store. :) The link below is the “recipe” that we used to make it. The ingredients were less than $20, so it really was a money saver making a big batch and using it for 2+ years.
    http://www.duggarfamily.com/content/duggar_recipes/30456/powdered_laundry_detergent_top_load_machine

  • Jen

    I’ve seen some people asking why you need to have prepackaged food. I agree that the ease is sometimes a live saver. Another reason is that some schools require it if you’re sharing a snack with the class.

    This is our first year packing a lunch and I’ll include homemade goodies there, but if I send in a treat for a birthday or class party it MUST be prepackaged and this is in accordance with our DCFS licensing standards. This is the rule at the public elementary school as well as my 4 year old’s preschool. I’m a SAHM and I LOVE to bake, but even if I don’t use these items day to day, it’s a nice reminder for the occasions where my boys will be sharing with their class.

  • sarah

    Great post and I agree with other commments bagging up snacks ahead of time is easy & cheaper! But one point I want to make is about the popcorn….if it’s not organic or non-gmo verified I would say it’s a no go. GMO’s are super scary!!!

  • Katie Grace

    Another great item my kids love is organic baby/toddler food pouches. Target has quite a few choices. Plum and Happy Baby are two of our favorites. There are lots of different ones that combine fruits and veggies.

  • I stay at home (working PT) and have 4 kids and pack 5 lunches a day. I take some time whenever I get a chance (usually while I am waiting in the kitchen for something to cook) and fill bags or plastic containers with individual portions of food. I have a basket in my pantry that everyone knows is only for school lunches and I stash things in there. I am contemplating doing the same for the fridge.

    My kids also like yogurt, string cheese, boiled eggs, and pretzels for a grab & go snack.

  • You can buy individually wrapped apple slices and carrots too.Granted you have to refrigerate them, but they are there….

  • [...] Prepackaged Snacks for School (from “100 Days of Real Food” blog) [...]

  • Sherry

    I love all the fantastic ideas. I only wish our schools here allowed nuts but ALL nuts are banned and now seafood as well. It really limits our choices for lunches and we are a nut loving house. With kids who dislike sandwiches your suggestions are what keep us going, THANKS!

  • Cindy Hendricks

    Where can I find the prepackaged popcorn? I have looked everywhere for it. My son has celiac disease and can eat this brand. He also had Type 1 diabetes and the carb count on these individual bags are the exact count he can have for a snack without have to have insulin. They’re perfect for him to take if he goes on a playdate or for his school snacks. I just can’t find them!! Please let me know and thanks so much for all you do.

  • Amy

    I just wanted to share something I found today that reminded me of this post. : ) Skinny Pop Popcorn. The package says ALL NATURAL: cholesterol/dairy/trans fat/peanut/tree nut/gluten/preservative/GMO free…aaand made in the USA! Ingredients are: all natural popcporn, sunflower oil, & salt.

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