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

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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”

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  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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?

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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!”

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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?

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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:)

  16. 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.

  17. 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.”

  18. 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.

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

  20. 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!

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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!

  25. 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

  26. 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.

  27. “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.

  28. 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.