Finding “real food” boxed cereal is not the easiest thing to do! But I know not everyone is looking for perfection so today I’m going to give you the low down on some of the bad, better and best options that are out there. Our personal favorite cereal is homemade granola, but we do buy boxed cereal on occasion for the kids or house guests.
My Rules for Cereal
- Nothing Artificial
If the cereal looks neon in color or contains artificial sweeteners (or flavors) then just move right along. This one is a non-negotiable for me!
- Whole Grains
Is the cereal 100% whole grain? Or does it at least contain more whole grains than refined grains (i.e. what’s listed first on the ingredient label)?
- Low or No Sugar
Does the cereal contain added refined sugar (listed under a variety of names such as cane juice, rice syrup, agave, corn syrup, etc.)? If so, how high up is it on the ingredient list and how many grams of sugar are listed on the nutrition label? Ideally I prefer options with no more than 2 or 3 grams of added sugar per serving.
- Short List of Ingredients
The longer the list of ingredients the more (unwanted) additives a product likely contains! Shorter is better in most cases.
Breakdown of Cereals
There are of course so many things we could consider when looking at cereals, but based on my criteria …here’s how some of the more popular brands stack up!
Really Bad (The Worst Offenders!)
Is this post going to change what breakfast looks like at your house? I’d love to know the details in the comments!
213 thoughts on “What’s in your cereal?”
Have you looked at Alpen Muesli no sugar added? Fantastic and whole.
I would disagree with the puffed corn. The package doesn’t say it’s non gmo and in my opinion corn is one of our most contaminated food sources. I love Lisa’s recipe for granola. I usually stick to hot oatmeal or overnight oats made with organic oatmeal for breakfast for my kids. We avoid the cereal aisle altogether. Once per year for st Patrick’s day we buy a box of lucky charms. It’s our dessert after dinner
I think Market Basket Oat Squares are wonderful: Whole Grain Oat Flour, Whole Grain Wheat Four… And I use Oakhurst Nutrish Milk, which has Yogurt cultures in it-Yummy for my tummy:)
I just looked it up :) I’m not sure it’s available here in the US. – Nicole
Have you tried puffed kamut? I highly recommend looking into it.
Our go to when we have to eat cereal is Weetabix. Can you not get that in the U.S?
How about the pesticides found in say, Quaker Oatmeal and Cheerios among many others? It’s the stuff in Round-up. I’ve read that Kashi and Cascadian brands have less, maybe organic too. What a world we live in. Yikes.
It really is scary! – Nicole
I would highly suggest to remove KIX from the better list. It contains Trisodium Phosphate. TSP is a chemical used to breakdown paint and other things. TSP is a very very very harmful chemical if eaten straight out the box. These people put it in our cereals. I find it crazy that the FDA allows such a harmful chemical in our food.
I’m surprised the BHT in Chex is not considered an artificial ingredient.
Unfortunately you failed to include the most recent research on glyphosate in your “rating” of cereals.
Cheerios contains over 1100 ppb of glyphosate – the highest glyphosate containing food found. As it is now known that both oats and wheat are being doused with Round Up just prior to harvest, the shredded wheat labeled “best” is likely highly contamineated with glyphosate as well. And how in the world could genetically modified, puffed corn be good for anyone? The puffing itself is bad, the corn not nutritious, and the genetically modified part unknown, not to mention the likely glyphosate content due to it’s being genetically modified.
My child does not have a choice when it comes to food. We stopped eating cold cereal years ago. Breakfast is generally organic oatmeal or Farina, organic toast and eggs or as a rare treat I’ll make French Toast. Leftover dinner is also an option.
If people are concerned about what to feeds kids for breakfast there is another options. Don’t make breakfast. The standard American diet is horrible in general and the cause of so many issues. There are plenty of other countries out there that don’t have breakfast options, they just have food in the morning. Make brown rice, eat beans. Eat what you do for lunch or dinner. Food is food. No need to have traditional breakfast foods.
What about original Go Lean
What do you think of grape nuts?
Hi there. While its shorter ingredient list is better than most, it still doesn’t fall within the 100 Day rules. Here are the ingredients: whole grain wheat flour, malted barley flour, isolated soy protein, salt, whole grain barley flour, malt extract and dried yeast.
Interesting – my box doesn’t list all of those ingredients. It only lists whole grain wheat flour, malted barley flour, salt, dried yeast.
It is totally possible that they have reformulated.
So, given the new formulation, how would Grape Nuts fare on the cereals chart?
So, I personally would place it in the better category. :)
*sigh* I love the taste of Grape Nuts but I ALWAYS choke on them!
I am frustrated because I see that I feed my daughter one of the worst cereals, but she has food allergies and it took me forever to figure out a cereal she could even eat. I feel like if I cut out some bad things, I would have nothing to feed her.
Honestly!! I have a 13 year old with ADHD who likes his morning cereal and I have tried everything – and I mean EVERYTHING that doesn’t contain crap and he wont eat it. What is a mom to do? He doesn’t like eggs… He grows tired of Ezekial bread with santa cruz organic PB. I am so FRUSTRATED!!! Grrrr… Not a helpful post, but any ideas would be great!
Hi Lynnie. Have you given Lisa’s granola a try: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2010/04/04/recipe-granola-bars-cereal/.
Wow this is bad cereals wic approves is bad too.
My son eats plain Cheerios. I can’t see why anyone would feed their kids any of the cereals on the worst offenders list. Anything that looks like candy should not be fed to anyone for breakfast. It breaks my heart to see what kids are eating today.
Cheerios are highest in glyphosate – a chemical that destroys our gut bacteria. For this reason, the rating scale in the article is really dumb. Check out this article on glyphosate content in foods: