“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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Gluten-Free QUICK Oats!!

About a year ago, I was on the prowl for some gluten-free oats, but I could only find the “Old Fashioned” variety, even online. It was brought to my attention the other day (thanks, Pam) that Bob’s Red Mill brand does now carry certified gluten-free QUICK oats! Yay!

They’re available online, but if you live in Omaha, I did find some at the Baker’s on 132nd & Maple Streets (in the “health food” section) yesterday – WAY cheaper than paying shipping for an online order! I also found them at Whole Foods – regular price $6.99, but on sale now through June 28, 2011 for $5.98! I haven’t tried them yet, but will let you all know how it goes…

I’ll also let you know if I find them anywhere else in Omaha! If you know of another retailer that carries the QUICK variety, please leave a comment below. Thanks!