“Additive-Free” Lunch Box Ideas for Kids

Summer is coming to an end, and this is the time of year that questions start flying about how to pack healthier (i.e., more natural) “kid-friendly” school lunches!!

I hear from so many parents who are willing to put the time and effort into making lunches for their kids to take to school each day….but they inevitably run out of ideas.

Over the next few weeks, I will be compiling here all sorts of ideas for parents to use when packing lunches this school year – ideas from readers, from other blogs…from anywhere I can get my hands on them.

Hey…perhaps you have an idea or two (or suggestions for posts/articles on other sites that I can add to the list below)? Please share your info/ideas in the comments section below, and include as much detail as possible. You’ll be helping SO many other parents. Trust me! 🙂

Alright, so here’s what we’ve compiled, so far. But check back frequently, as we hope to be adding to this list daily! (Please note: I have not personally tried all of these products or recipes; this is simply a compilation of ideas from readers and the Internet. Also, links outside of CompletelyNourished.com likely contain some recipes that are NOT additive-free, so read carefully!)

RECIPES & MEAL IDEAS

STORE-BOUGHT SHORTCUTS

  • Cooked Shrimp (at places like Whole Foods Omaha, you can even find a couple seasoned varieties on the Shrimp Bar that are additive-free and ready-to-eat!)
  • Rotisserie chicken (again, at Whole Foods Omaha, you can find chickens in the deli area that are ready-to-eat and very simply seasoned – and ingredients are labelled!) Of course, you can roast your own chicken, but this can save you in a pinch if you’re short on time…or energy!
  • Mary’s Gone Crackers
  • Mary’s Gone Crackers brand pretzels
  • Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips
  • Dried Fruit – Look for varieties that contain no added sugar, oils, or sulphur dioxide. Trader Joe’s carries a pretty good variety, as do many natural food stores.
  • LaraBars
  • Foods Alive Flax Crackers
  • Trader Joe’s Olive Oil Popcorn – Contains just organic popcorn, extra virgin olive oil, and sea salt
  • String Cheese
  • Raisins
  • Fresh Fruit (Tip about oranges: The rind on clementines is thinner and easier for small kids to peel themselves! Tip for fruits that brown easily – sprinkle with fresh lemon juice to prevent browning.)
  • Carrot sticks and other fresh veggies
  • Frozen veggies
  • Plain potato chips or corn chips – Definitely not a health food; but perhaps a “compromise” choice if you can at least find a brand with basic ingredients
  • Canned fruits or applesauce – Some stores (especially health food stores) carry brands with no added sugars or preservatives. Look for brands that contain just fruit (and possibly fruit juice). Pineapple chunks are usually available at most stores.
  • Nuts – Look for raw (not roasted) or dry roasted. Only ingredients should be nuts (and possibly salt). These are generally available in the baking aisle of most grocery stores, so don’t panic if you don’t find any in the snack nut section. Nuts are great to combine with raisins (and perhaps the chocolate chips listed above) for a homemade trail mix.
  • Organic/no-sugar-added apple sauce from Trader Joe’s.
  • Trader Joe’s carries a variety of grass-fed cheeses.
  • Some stores carry hard-boiled eggs (yes, already cooked) in the produce or deli department.
  • Prepackaged Snacks for School (from “100 Days of Real Food” blog)

EQUIPMENT:

MEAL PLANNING & GENERAL TIPS

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How to Make ADDITIVE-FREE Grilled Chicken w/ Pasta

This dinner is simple, tasty and won’t break the budget! See below for recipe and grocery selection tips….

Grilled, boneless/skinless chicken thighs – Sprinkle both sides of meat with garlic powder, sea salt, and black pepper. Throw on the grill! Sometimes we add onion powder, too!

Don’t use those pre-made grilling seasonings from the store – most are full of additives and mystery ingredients! Stick to whole, real herbs and spices. But still ….check the labels for surprise ingredients – for instance, “garlic salt” often contains much more than just garlic and salt!

For more great recipes and all of the grocery shopping tips you need to ensure that you select the most additive-free versions of all ingredients needed to make this recipe (and all of my recipes), check out my book “Eating Additive-Free“!

Make sure the chicken you buy is free of any additives, solutions or broth! If there’s no ingredients label on the package…be sure to ASK the butcher….assume nothing!

Garlic butter noodles – Cook whole wheat angel hair pasta according to package directions (the only ingredient listed should be “whole wheat”). For every 8 ounces of noodles, you’ll need 1/2 stick butter and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder. While noodles are draining in a strainer, melt butter in the pan and then stir in the garlic powder. Return noodles to the pan and toss to coat. Add sea salt and pepper, to taste. Yum! 8 ounces of pasta yields about 4 servings (as long as they’re not as huge as MY “serving” shown here).  🙂

Check the ingredients on your butter!! At most, the ingredients should read, “cream (or “cultured cream”) and salt.” Many varieties add “natural flavor,” especially if the butter is unsalted, so beware. And, please tell me you’re not eating margarine!!! That’s a whole other blog post in itself!

Freshly sliced cucumber (or veggies of your choice). Actually, I’d recommend something more colorful like carrots, tomatoes or bell peppers to make the plate more interesting, but all I had on hand were cucumbers!

Give it a try and comment below to let me know how you like it!