The Only Lunch Meat I Give My Kids

It’s pretty obvious that lunch meat is not a regular occurrence around here, BUT I do like to pack it for my kids on occasion – just to switch things up! And it seems every time I do, readers ask me what kind of lunchmeat I bought. So today’s post has all the details!

School Lunch on 100 Days of #RealFood

As with just about any of the meat we eat, when locally raised is not an option I definitely go for organic. That’s why I love that our sponsor, Applegate, offers an organic lunch meat option.

When Applegate approached me about being on their Advisory Board this year, it made complete sense since I was already buying and talking about their products before I even had a relationship with them! And the reason why is because when you purchase Applegate Organic products you can be assured they are…

  • From humanely raised animals on family farms,
  • From animals fed non-GMO feed,
  • Free of artificial ingredients,
  • Free of added nitrites and nitrates,
  • Free of preservatives,
  • Antibiotic-free.

And all of that is so important to us!

Applegate Organic on 100 Days of #RealFood

The great thing is though, even when I can’t find organic (if I’m in a real pinch) at least I know their natural product is lightyears above all the conventional options – almost completely up to the standards of their organic options.

Yesterday I shared some school lunch ideas on our local Charlotte Today show, and when my store was out of Applegate organic ham (and I’d already planned one whole lunch around ham) I got the next best thing, their natural version!

So I know many of you will be excited with the newest thing Applegate is up to with their natural lunch meats. We all know how I feel about Lunchables and how much I promote making them yourself!

But in the event your child is just begging you for the “packaged” version (that happens with us sometimes when it comes to mac and cheese – what’s so exciting about a box anyway?) you’ll want to check out Applegate’s new Half Time product, a natural and organic pre-packaged lunch kit.

They sent us some to try and my children acted like it was Christmas LOL. While these products don’t fully live up to our real food rules, I would feel much more comfortable offering these on a rare special occasion than the original version!

Again, I’m most definitely an advocate of just making your own “Lunchables” at home, but if your kid suddenly needs to get a packaged lunch out of their system look for these at Target and other national retailers by mid-August!

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151 thoughts on “The Only Lunch Meat I Give My Kids”

  1. Melissa McClure

    Hello, where would I get those great containers with the compartments? I am assuming they come with lids….?

  2. I have been following your blog for sometime, I have high blood pressure and am learning how to turn it around. I have purchased applegate products for my self and family before.

    Today I will not
    their processed food often times give me real headaches raising my blood pressure I loved your blog because it promoted non processed food.

    I am shocked you would now be sponsored by a company that does nothing but sell processed food!

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Jane. That is not a brand that Lisa buys. She rarely uses deli meats and when she does it is Applegate. I do not think Boar’s Head is preservative or added nitrate free and I do not think there are organic options.

  3. I was looking for an article on appropriate deli meats for children. This thinly veiled advertisement with its complete dearth of facts was not at all helpful.

    1. I clearly stated they were a sponsor at the top of the post AND sponsor or not – this is truly what I buy. We purposely seek out products I already use and love to see if they want to become sponsors. I used them for years before I ever worked with them.

      1. I had spoke to Applegate about their meats and not all of it is organic and fed on a non-gmo diet. Unless it states that it is 100% organic and grass fed then it isn’t totally organic. A natural listing means nothing.

  4. I have a question I can not buy from local farms or things like that I have to purchase from grocery stores and I am having a hard time locating chicken, turkey and beef I have Open Nature and Natures Own product but when I try and research online I get know were? Any products you deam ok?

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi there. Most grocery stores are willing to bring in products their customers want. You could request Applegate products and beyond that can certainly find them and others online. :)

  5. Not sure how you meant to say that Marie as it seems slightly rude. Regardless, I have looked into the ham and some of the ham options don’t contain carrageenan (some of them do). This is good. Honestly, we just avoid deli meat for the most part as it isn’t really good overall anyway. As the article states as well- she rarely gives this to her kids too b/c of the ingredients in deli meat. Sadly sometimes there isn’t something better but that doesn’t mean you have to give your family something that isn’t good. You can avoid it all together. There are plenty of lunch options besides deli meat, which is also supported on this site :)

  6. I too looked into Applegate products but was disappointed when I saw Carrageenan as an ingredient. This is used as a thickener and is very bad for you:( I am surprised to see this on your site??

    1. I agree with you, Melissa. The organic turkey and chicken deli meets by Applegate have carrageenan. But, the ham doesn’t. I reached out to Applegate about this controversial ingredient via Twitter and they said they are researching new ingredients. Hopeful that they will remove carrageenan soon from the poultry deli meets.

  7. Charlotte Matthews

    I love this, I just saw it in my paper this morning. While my kids are grown and gone they do eat much better than most. The younger one has stomach problems and when she comes home I make sure I have food for her. She went vegetarian for 5 years and I did get very good at reading the ingredients. There was not a lot of boxed stuff when the older one was younger, so she got the homemade

  8. I thank you for your website – my family is looking forward to trying your plan. I’ve forwarded it to my three kids. My husband and I are going to use your plan and practice so we can feed our Grandkids when they come along in the near future! God Bless you for all you do!

  9. Love your site, you have helped me to drastically change the way my family eats. To me, after processed foods full of chemicals, GMO’s are the worse ingredients out there. That being said, I went on Applegate’s website to check out their Half Time product and saw in the comments section where they replied to someone that their “natural product” animals are fed GM feed at this time. That is disappointing but their “organic product” animals do not consume GM feed.

  10. Hi!
    Thanks for the info!! Just becoming knowledgeable about nitrates..carageenans etc. in food. It can be a bit overwhelming with all the different views and tons of different studies out there. In the end, all you can do is to try to do the best for your family and everything in moderation. My concern with the uncured meat is keeping it below 40 degrees to keep from spoiling. In a lunchbox, that is kept outside sometimes at school with only a small little ice container, I would think meat can go downhill pretty fast. Anyone have any thoughts or info to share on this?

  11. I thought all thin sliced lunchmeat contains binders…not listed as an ingredient since its part of the “process”. We definitely steer clear of all packaged lunch meat and slice our own ham and beef for that purpose.

  12. To the person who replied (sorry i don’t know how to reply directly to you)
    I purchase the Organic Prairie (carrageenan free) sliced roasted turkey at Gelson’s
    Market. Check Organic Prairie’s website for retailer locations near you.

  13. Hi, I am new to this site. What is that yummy looking muffin thing & is the home made gronla ? Thanks

  14. I found that Applegate Organics puts carrageenan in their roasted turkey breast.
    We now eat “Organic Prairie” which is minimally proceeded and contains only organic turkey,
    Sea salt and water.
    Can you advise as to your thoughts regarding carrageenan?

    1. Where do you find Organic Prairie brand? I too try to avoid carageenan and it is hard to find lunch meat without it. We don’t it lunch meat very often, but occasionally it’s very handy when we’re hiking, so I’d love to find this brand!

  15. Hi Lisa – I think you are still doing a great job sharing information about eating better. I check in now and then to see what’s new and use your advice as a guide. I admire your integrity and that you only partner with those whose products are a step in the right direction.

    My teenage son has an endless appetite, so I use all the information I’ve gleaned from you as a guide to shopping. We have good talks about why I make the food choices for us that I do. He’s a teen, he sometimes argues, but he’s thinking about it, and he gets it.

    Also, I pay attention to the source of the information that is out there, as I see you do as well. I take time to research and educate myself. Ignorance is not bliss. Maybe you should borrow The Reading Rainbow’s tagline whenever you put out new information:

    “…but you don’t have to take my word for it!”

  16. I should have given the unit pricing, the shelf label said it is $8.38 per pound. I can say from experience that IS significantly cheaper than some of the Boar’s Head sliced to order deli meats.

  17. I’ve seen a number of people asking where to buy the Applegate Ham. For those in the Charlotte NC area, I saw it today at BJ’s. It was 9.49 for 2 7 oz packages–I don’t know if that is an improvement over grocery store pricing, but wanted to pass it on for those who are looking.

  18. I love the Half Time lunch kit! I participate in a bowling league once a week from 6:30-8:30 so I will bring one of these for my 3 year old to snack on instead of bowling alley food!

  19. I just want to support Lisa for doing her very best to give her kids orgaqnic healthy food and to find her readers healthy unprocessed options for foods kids love. My daughter buys those horrible lunchables and at least now there is an alternative that is much healthier.

  20. My son is very picky and if I try to pack something that is not a lunchable he usually will not eat it. I have been looking for a container that has dividers (like the one in the lunch pic). Can you tell me where to find this container and is it an okay type of plastic?

  21. I find the claim “antibiotic-free” on meat packages to be completely misleading to consumers. All meat is antibiotic free when it gets to stores. If they are given antibiotics they go through strict withdrawal times before they can re-enter the herd. I’m curious to know why people are against using antibiotics to treat sick animals vs. letting them suffer without proper care. Antibiotics are expensive and not used liberally on farms, contrary to what people think. (No, I am not a farmer, just an informed consumer)

    1. Where are you getting this information? Antibiotic free means the animals are not routinely given antibiotics. The CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics, other medical organizations and concerned citizens are VERY worried about the overuse of antibiotics. The majority of antibiotics in the US are used on CAFOs ( factory farms) as routine in order to prevent disease NOT treat disease. These animals live in unnatural close quarters, feed a diet they wouldn’t eat in nature and therefore sick. The antibiotics they consume get in our water supply and in their waste which then goes into to the ground as compost getting into the land and water. It’s a vicious cycle. We are creating superbugs because of antibiotic overuse in feed animals. I believe we are the only country that still allows routine antibiotic use in animals and that practice should be banned.

  22. I was under impression one of the whole food categories was no refined sugar. This ham has sugar.

  23. I have this very ham in my refrigerator right now. However, I was watching The Today Show this week, and they had a segment on lunchmeats, and particularly addressed the so-called “nitrate/nitrite free” ones. The expert said that even though it says on the package that it isn’t preserved and no nitrates/nitrites were added “except those naturally occurring in sea salt and celery powder” this is a huge and dangerous misconception. These are still nitrates/nitrites, just as harmful and plentiful as if they had added them artificially. I ended up researching more online to see if this was a valid argument, and it looks like it is true. Start with googling “are uncured meats safe” and you’ll find some interesting reading. I rarely comment on blogs but this hit home with me.

  24. Wow! I guess since the growth of your blog you are taking on sponsors whom you now promote their products in order for self promotion. What a disappointment that you could only endorse your sponsor when there are more than a few brands who meet and even surpass “Applegate” brand. No haters here, just keeping it real and honest and expecting the same from you.
    Why no comment Lisa? Oh, now you probably will have to consult with Applegate before you reply.

    1. Maureen – Actually due to the volume of comments and my other duties I am not able to respond to all comments immediately. As I explained in the post I purchased Applegate ham and bacon before they were ever a sponsor, which is why I felt they were such a good fit. I turn sponsors away all the time because I don’t believe in their product. I have no idea what you mean about “self promotion” – there are 7 part time and 2 full time people that keep this blog going and sponsors (that we agree with) are part of how it all works around here.

      1. Lisa, I appreciate how you do “keep it real” by “being honest.” You have helped with so many healthy food alternatives and myself and my family thank you! Keep up the great work:)

  25. These products aren’t available in my town. I just buy the deli (lower sodium) meat at Harris-Teeter. Most deli meat is full of sodium so you better watch no matter what brand you purchase.

  26. Where can we find the Half Time lunches? This would help me on a few days. My daughter was crying in the grocery store the other day because I wouldng buy her luchables!

    1. I agree those would definitely be a step up from Lunchables and I know some kids are just dying to try them for some reason. As stated in the post “look for these at Target and other national retailers by mid-August.”

  27. My meijer carries legacy Turkey. No fillers..don’t think it’s organic though. I get this awesome bologna from.whole foods. The wellshire ham goes on sale, when it does I buy a lot and freeze it.

  28. Think about what your thanksgiving Turkey meat looks like. The carrageenan binds it, so it doesn’t fall apart. Gross

  29. I have the same comment as others – I refuse to buy their turkey because it contains carrageenan. If they removed it and used spices etc like they do in their ham, I would buy the turkey in a heartbeat!

  30. While I totally understand the title of this post I do find it a bit misleading. We certainly have used their lunch meats but there are also other options. Our local whole foods carries all natural, organic, non-drug fed etc. etc. lunch meats. I think there must be some standard of independent input regardless of if they are a sponsor or not. If not, lead with the fact that while you love their meats and use them exclusively you are also paid for your endorsement or something to that effect. Still love the content and can’t wait for the book, just like there to be some feeling that your product endorsements aren’t predicated on sponsorships.

    1. Nicole and Neil – I see your point, but it’s true that this is the only lunch meat I ever buy (when I do buy it). I was simply being factual. I strive to be as honest as possible around here. I would never title my post with something that was simply not true. We actually make a point to seek out relationships with sponsors for the products I already buy and use on my own.

  31. Lisa do you also buy their turkey? It has carrageenan and am not sure what other option exists on the market that is organic and does not have this ingredient in it. Please tell me what you do!

      1. Carrageenan aside, I don’t care for their turkey either. I hope with a recipe change, they also improve some of the turkey flavor.

  32. You can also check out your local European deli. Mine carries a natural (not organic) roastbeef (McLean if you’re in Ontario)with no preservatives at all. Ingredients: Roast beef rubbed with sea salt and black pepper. That’s it. I love it on a fresh baguette. It has to be eaten within two days though or it goes bad…which makes sense.

  33. We buy the Hormel naturals lunch meat. Is it at least slightly better? I know it has no added nitrates! Applegate is rarely available near us except at Sprouts which is still quite a drive! I wish their products were more widely available!

    1. GettingRealwithFood

      I’ve been buying Hormel naturals as well – thinking I was doing the right thing. I started searching through comments here to see if anyone else had anything to say about Hormel. Then I went to the Hormel website to look at the ingredients (which I should have been doing all along). All of their lunch meats contain Turbinado Sugar. While turbinado is a less processed sugar – it’s still sugar! Applegate seems to have cane sugar in their products – I’m not sure which is better… turbinado or cane or if they’re about the same. The poultry versions of Hormel also contain carageenan. For my family, I don’t think we’ll ever find the perfect lunch meat – unless we make it ourselves directly from the source! So, we will just go with what we can afford and feel the least guilty about purchasing!

  34. I live near Atlanta, Georgia, and we have a Kroger grocery store chain that carries a Simple Truth brand. I buy their canned vegetables and their deli meat and cheese.
    “Simple Truth Organic Chickens are raised on a fully organic diet with all-natural, 100% organic vegetarian grain feed, free of any animal by-products and synthetic additives. Each package of Simple Truth Organic Chicken carries the USDA Organic seal and is certified organic by a third-party certifying agency.

    Never treated with antibiotics, hormones or steroids
    Free of artificial ingredients and preservatives
    Natural with no added salt”
    Certified 100% organic

  35. I only use the sandwich meat, cheese, and bacon from Applegate. Never had their chicken nuggets. Sometimes trying to find Organic is next to impossible where I live. Buying all natural with ingredients that you can actually read (and in the least quantity on the label) is at least a step in the right direction for good health and nutrition.

  36. “Naturals” still come from animals fed GMO corn/grain/feed!
    Don’t support them! They should either be in all the way (organic)or out!

      1. I heard about this and it concerned me…I think Purdue is a distributor, which concerned me bc of their practices. Even if Applegate does things right, they are doing business with the enemy. Idk, I’m so sick of it all…why has it come to this!?? We should be able to trust our food sources! So frustrating…

      2. Applegate does not use Perdue chicken. Perdue is producing the chicken nuggets for Applegate. Applegate uses its meat and spice source, but the mechanical processing is the same.

  37. I tried applegate once and it was inedible. The turkey was slimy and I didn’t understand how it could have a ‘use by’ date of over a month away… Yuck! I never bought the cold cuts again. I buy the all natural fresh sliced stuff from our deli – even if its not organic. It’s one of the few non-organic things I still buy. I wish we had earthfare or whole foods by us to offer better cold cut options, but we don’t.

  38. I love Applegate lunchmeats. However, since starting this I’m more aware of my food labels and noticed most if not all lunchmeats contain Carageenan. Have you found any lunchmeats that don’t contain it (and doesn’t contain sugar additives)?

    1. I should have read all the posts before me first. Looks like several people questioned about Carageenan.

      1. Just adding another vote to the plea: Applegate, please remove the carageenan from the poultry products. This is the reason I do not buy your products (I am not interested in ham).

        For some reason both Lisa and Applegate always seem to ignore the comments about carageenan. This isn’t the first post on this blog this has come up in the comments. I would love to get a straight answer on this.

        Why is carageenan needed in the poultry products, but not in the ham? Why can other companies do without it? Why hasn’t Applegate replied properly to any of the carageenan questions, here and also on their own website? Otherwise they seem like an engaged company striving to supply the best product they can.

      2. As stated before in this very post! Carrageenan is a binding agent. Look at a whole chicken. Where would you slice to make a product like lunch meat ? The breast. How many slices could you get? What do those slices look like? In order to use an entire chicken it would have to be mechanically separated, bonded together and then sliced. It’s lunch meat! By it’s very nature a processed food! If you don’t want binders or preservatives of any sort then don’t eat lunch meat. Applegate is simply trying to fill a demand. Lisa turned a passion into a job. Yes, she has sponsors. How do you think the bills get paid? She is transparent and I applaud her efforts to get Americans to understand labels and the food they consume. Americans eat really crappy food, and many need baby steps. Applegate can be a step in the right direction. I personally buy my chickens straight from the farmer the day of harvest. Until everyone is willing to spend the time and money to do that then an organic processed product is a step in the right direction.

  39. I sure wish you could convince them to take the carrageenan out of their poultry. We eat the ham but I try to get the Organic Prairie turkey – they have no carrageenan.

  40. Applegate is a staple in our house. We don’t eat much luncheon meat, and we mostly try to eat leftover meat from dinners, etc. But in a pinch, Applegate is our go-to.

  41. Dear Lisa, could you please explain why you are promoting a product that is banned in 28 countries? Meats cured with nitrates/nitrites from celery powder and alike are banned in the European Union.

    I recently stumbled over a piece of writing from European Food Regulators and it explained the following:
    1. There is not much natural about the “natural” nitrate sources. Celery, Beet etc. are pre-treated to result in powders/extracts that contain about 25 % nitrate.
    2. Advertising those meats as “uncured” and “no nitrate added” is considered in Europe misleading labeling.
    3. Highly tempered celery extracts/powders with up to 25 % nitrate are considered a food additive (preservative) in Europe. Food additives need to go through a regulatory process before they are allowed to be used.

    The same is true for “rosemary extract” which is used in some of Applegate’s products. Rosemary extract is an antioxidant produced from rosemary by extraction with acetone, ethanol, hexane/ethanol or supercritical co2. It has no flavoring components. In Europe it is considered a food additive, needs to be labeled as “antioxidant” and carries an E-number (E 392).

    I don’t have a problem with curing meats using nitrates – whether by the straight chemical or its “natural” cousins. But I have a problem with claiming that the “naturally” cured meats are better than the others. I therefore would like to ask Applegate’s and its Advisory Board the following:
    1. Could you provide any evidence in support of your claim that meats cured with “natural” nitrate is better than meats cured with “artificial” nitrates?
    2. How natural is your celery powder? Could you provide a flow chart of celery powder production? How much nitrate/nitrite does your celery powder contain?
    3.Is rosemary extract used as a flavoring or antioxidant? How was it produced?

    1. Critical Reader – I think some of your concerns need to be taken up with the USDA. Did you know that their label laws prohibit companies from stating certain things on the label – according to their rules, only products made with a chemical sodium nitrate can be labeled “cured.” Applegate has actually filed petitions with them in the past asking that they update this label law and allow them to be more clear for our customers.
      While Applegate doesn’t claim that there are health benefits to naturally derived nitrates they (like me) feel that ingredients derived from plants are better than ingredients made in a purely chemical process. So they use vegetable-based curing agents such as celery and beet powders rather than the chemical sodium nitrate. They test the products for residual nitrates and they are all below 40 parts per million. They also use rosemary extract as a flavor.
      Applegate tries to provide as much information as possible so everyone can make their own decision on if their product is right for them.

  42. our family also looks for Kosher organic when we do eat meat.
    did i miss where you discuss lunch boxes that include a thermos
    for hot liquids, please?


  43. Agree that if you have some sway now tell them to get the carrageanan OUT. Thanks for your website!

  44. You do know they recalled Applegate chicken because they found pieces of plastic in them , right ? So much for organic …

  45. Here’s the thing. You think by being on the board you can actually make positive changes? Please elaborate on what changes have actually been made on products due to your critique? If none, than you have just given the green light on many products you otherwise might not have and all because they have “tricked” you into believing that you will actually make a difference. I am with the other readers. Go back o the way it was before the paid advertisements as articles.

    1. Momomommy – Big companies like Applegate cannot make changes overnight. They have a board because they want our feedback for future decisions.

  46. I love your blog! I am also a mom blogger who likes to cook homemade meals with fresh ingredients. Applegate is also my choice of lunch meat!

  47. Once financial ties to a food manufacturer are declared, objectivity and credibility are lost.

  48. I would like to purchase their hot dogs as well, but the skin is too tough for 1 1/2 year olds. Have to scrap out the middle and it’s a bit of a pain.

  49. I used to really enjoy your blog before you got all of the endorsements. I realize that everyone needs to make money, but your conflict of interest really shows when you tout products that you wouldn’t let your family eat, like the lunchables. And you say yourself, that you rarely eat lunch meat. You know that it is highly processed no matter what brand or how organic. Disappointing that you have an entire blog post encouraging people to buy a particular brand of something that you know is not something people should eaten often. Makes it hard for me to trust anything that you mention on your blog since you obviously have a conflict of interest going on.

    1. I agree with you! I used to love this site (and still enjoy some of the recipes) but I do not like the product endorsement blogs. :-(

    2. I’m sorry to say, I agree. I know you can never trust everything you read on the internet (particularly from a single site), but this used to be my go-to source, and I’m sad to say I’m now in search of another. There have simply been too many incidences of misinformation (the egg yolk color myth still irks me, though I never commented) or misrepresentation of “real food”. So this is it. I’m out.
      I know you will get negative feedback here and there about any choice you make, and I also understand the need to support your family and expand your horizons. But please, please remember that sitting up there in your introduction is the statement that this blog is about “cutting out processed food.” Stand up for what you believe and don’t be afraid to turn down a sponsor who doesn’t match your beliefs or blog philosophy. Perhaps it will encourage more companies to create real food alternatives. Please come back to keeping it real! (Cliche intended.)

    3. Lisa – I do appreciate your feedback, but the fact of the matter is my family does eat Applegate products. We like their bacon, ham, and hot dogs. While they are not an everyday occurrence I find them to be the best option for those products. We often seek out sponsors for products I am already buying and talking about because it is a natural fit. And readers ask me all the time about lunch meat so this post made sense to answer that question. If I am doing my best to be as honest and transparent as possible and still lose readers as a result I guess there is not much I can do about it (unfortunately).

  50. For folks in Canada, it’s not organic, but there are a couple natural lunch meat options. They use celery to cure. Not sure about the carageenan. And I personally don’t think just because something is ground it is processed. That’s my opinion. Thanks for all you do, Lisa!

  51. It seems I am not the only one that is concerned about the carregeenan in these meats. Are they even necessary? I stopped buying this product because of that and grill my own turkey etc.

  52. I was told that Applegate Farms is owned by Purdue; is this accurate? If so, it is disappointing to hear this.

  53. I was very excited to learn about Applegate Farms natural lunch meat products, however, upon further investigation I noticed that carageenan is in their turkey & chicken products. That disappointed me greatly! I wrote to them about it but it’s still used in those products. Fortunately I can enjoy their otherwise fine options.

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  55. Can you ask Applegate why they put carrageenan in their turkey lunch meat! It is even in the organic option!

  56. The Trader Joe’s Uncured Black Forest ham lists the ingredients as:
    Pork, Water, Vinegar, Kosher Salt, Turbinado Sugar, Molasses, Celery Powder and Spice Extractives. No nitrates or nitrites added. I’m learning here, so I’m wondering what “hidden” ingredients could be in this list. Hopefully not carageenan. And I know the ham is not organic, but we do lunch meat in moderation, too. As school gets ready to start again, they will get it a little more than they did this summer, but again, I’m learning :) Lastly, on the Nutrition Facts label, the sugar is only 1g per serving.

  57. Have you seen the whole roasted turkey breasts at whole foods that they will slice into lunch meat at the prepared food counter? It is actual roasted turkey, not processed lunch meat. And you can bring your own container to save on waste! That gets my vote.

  58. Of all the lunch meats available why would they choose such a highly processed one as bologna? Even if your ingredients are natural or organic, bologna is still bologna: “a finely ground pork sausage containing cubes of lard, originally from the Italian city of Bologna… the U.S. Government regulations require American bologna to be finely ground and without visible pieces of lard.”[]

  59. I love that I’ve recently found Applegate’s version of “lil smokies.” My husband likes making jalapeno poppers with these, jalapenos, cream cheese, and (Applegate) bacon. I don’t have to feel quite so bad about eating them (or pigs in blankets) now!

  60. I’m glad to see a healthier option! I can (and have) made the cutesy lunches with the cutout shapes, “theme” lunches, etc. It’s apparently not the same… My kids still ask to have a pre-packaged lunch, but I cannot feed that junk to them! I think these will be a great option for field trip days, where kids are asked to bring “throw away” lunches.

  61. I’ve been using Applegate products but was dismayed to read that their chicken was sourced by Perdue, which came out when the chicken was recalled. What’s the point of paying a premium if it’s sourced by the big factory farm brands I’m trying to avoid? What are your thoughts on that, since you endorse this brand?

      1. I don’t really like the accurate information that is out there either. Mmmm. Chicken nuggets with tiny shards of plastic.

  62. I have found an uncured lunchmeat ham at Aldi recently. It has very similar ingredients except I don’t recall any type of sweetener at all listed unlike the honey and cane sugar in this one. It is much cheaper but it is not organic. I rarely buy lunch meat, but have gotten it a couple times. But am never sure if it is truly better.

  63. I was disappointed to learn that the Applegate turkey has carrageenan in it. I’ve had better luck with Diestel farms…have you taken a look at that one?

      1. We get it at a store here in So Cal called Lazy Acres, but its parent store is Bristol Farms…I would think a lot of health food stores would carry it!

  64. I do use their ham. I wish the turkey and other products didn’t have Carageenan. 😞

  65. We love the Applegate hot dogs around here but have yet to try the lunch meat. I was one of those kids who always wanted a Lunchables but never got one, so I’m glad to see a company I support coming out with a better option!

  66. We buy Earth Fare lunch meat with no carrageenan! They slice it fresh, so nothing added to keep it from spoiling like even the organic versions- Applegate, etc.

  67. I’m curious why you are willing to put the food in plastic containers. Have you thought about stainless steel like PlanetBox?

    1. K – We have a Planetbox and Lunchbots (both stainless steel) and use those in combination with the pictured BPA-free plastic one. The plastic one is the lightest weight for my daughters to carry in their already heavy backpack and most all the containers we use at home are glass so I don’t stress myself about it.

      1. Lisa, part of what I love about your site is you accept and acknowledge that this is real life. I think people get so consumed with things to avoid that they sometimes forget to live. If the treats I have here and there shorten my lifespan, then good riddance. I will have lived a fulfilling life.

  68. I love this blog- but I also find it a little depressing, because I am Canadian and we do not have Applegate in Canada. I have no idea how to go about finding organic lunch meat,or pepperoni or all the other great things you list here. I want to do so many of the things on your blog but I feel like I can’t. I work full time and have limited options as I live in a smaller northern Ontario town. you need soooo much extra time to cook like this. It’s really a shame that eating “real foods” is this difficult! I’m making a lot of changes- but I just don’t feel like it’s enough.

    1. Shelley, if you’re in Ontario McLean has a couple good choices. Ingredients: Roast beef rubbed with sea salt and black pepper
      pork slices: Pork, water, sea salt, honey

      Unfortunately, their chicken and turkey products have the carageenan.

      Anyways, I get mine sliced at a European deli. It does go bad after two days which is a good thing I guess. It never stays around that long in my house though. Maybe you can find out if they’re somewhere in your area.

  69. I feel the same way about their turkey but i buy their bacon, salami, hot dogs & turkey bologna.

  70. Do you realize what carrageenan is? Read the Applegate labels then do your research! Carrageenan causes inflammation and cancer in the body. Rethink what you’re exposing your children to please! I’m worried for them. If it were real food they wouldn’t add carrageenan!!!

    1. Do you know what else causes cancer? coffee, gasoline exhaust, bubble bath cell phones alcohol the list is indefinite. I bet you at the very least drive a car. Point being she said its a RARE occasion she gives her children lunch meat. You should do research yourself. Btw carrageenan has only been PROVEN to cause cancer in rats.

      1. Mom of a daughter with cancer

        Jana– i do believe that what “a concerned mom” was referring to is this. That you can do the very best and feed your family and children the very best of foods, fruits, veggies and all organic. But sometimes in the end, cancer just happens. It’s not unavoidable in children. There is no research that shows that for our children with cancer that it was caused by anything they did or ate. The cause is unknown. And it does suck. September is childhood cancer month. Spread the awareness. Spend more time becoming educated in this horrible disease and how our children are affected and how little research is being spent for our kids. I know this first hand since the diagnosis of my 15 year old daughter with cancer.

    2. Jana – The organic ham (what I normally buy) does not contain carrageenan. It is only in some of their products – not all.

      1. Kraft responded to your petition about removing artificial dyes from Mac and Cheese that not all of their products contain dyes and that you please go for the dye-free version if you are concerned. You did not accept that response, but suggest the same for Applegate’s meats. Double standards?!

      2. Criticial Reader – If comparing Kraft to Applegate were comparing apples to apples then we could maybe have this conversation. But the fact of the matter is Kraft’s product w/o the dyes is still total crap. That is not the case with Applegate.

  71. I love Applegate ham and buy it regularly! However, I am not crazy about the fact that they put carrageenan in their turkey. I won’t buy it for that reason. When they take it out if their products, I will buy the turkey too.

    1. I too avoid the Applegate turkey because of the carrageenan…wish it wasn’t in there, the Applegate chicken doesn’t have it in the ingredient list.

  72. I have been waiting for Organic ‘lunchables’….for some reason no matter how I present my own home made ones, they just aren’t the same to my kids! I hope they will be available at the stores I shop at!

    1. That’s exactly why I wanted to share – my girlfriend had the same exact issue with her son. He just wouldn’t stop asking until he got to try a “packaged” version!

  73. These do look good, although I’m not crazy about the inclusion of fruit snacks. And I’m guessing the crackers aren’t whole-grain, or it seems like they would have mentioned it…? But still, definitely an improvement.

    1. Katy – I agree and part of what I love about being on their Advisory Board is that I was able to give them that exact feedback already!

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