Guilt-Free Packaged Foods for School Lunches

Packing lunches, day after day, can quickly become tedious. After all, there are only so many different ways you can pack a sandwich and even if your child is devoted to the traditional PB&J, banana and milk combo like one of my children, you may decide that you want to switch things up a bit.

Maybe you need to pack lunches in a hurry. You need some packaged foods to toss in the lunch bag, and you want foods that are yummy AND good for your child. Look for foods that are low in sugar, all natural, with no high fructose corn syrup and no chemical additives. It’s a tall order, to be sure, but here are a few of our favorite lunch box choices that meet our tough criteria.

Whole Grain Goldfish – Every kid loves to snack, and these childhood favorites have worked hard to make themselves a healthier choice.  With 140 calories for about 55 goldfish – a perfect serving size to go with your child’s lunch – 5 grams of fat and 2 grams of fiber, these whole grain, tasty cheese crackers are both fun and a good dietary choice.

VitaTop Muffin TopsSometimes, you just want a treat, but you don’t need the calories or fat that you’d get from cookies. Billed as the best part of muffins, these sweet treats have around 100 calories and less than 3 grams of fat as well as being high in fiber. Offered in several yummy flavors including chocolate mint, banana fudge, fudgy peanut butter chip and even dark chocolate pomegranate, the line also includes sugar free/low-carb versions. These individually wrapped treats are a snap to pop into your lunch box or book bag.

Wholly Guacamole 100 Calorie packsGuacamole is a yummy offering, but until recently, it’s been difficult to pop into a lunch sack. With the 100 calorie packs from Wholly Guacamole, the mess and worry about higher calorie counts have been removed. Pack these squirt packs with veggie sticks, pita rounds or baked chips for a delicious and yummy lunch pairing that won’t leave kiddos full of unhealthy fats, as in ranch dressing. (I’ve also been known to pass these packs to my kids for slurping while I’m driving.)

PopchipsAll natural, delicious potato chips, created from air popped potatoes, these chips have less than half of the fat and cholesterol of regular potato chips. Offered in original, BBQ, sour cream and onion, salt and vinegar, salt and pepper, and Parmesan garlic – there’s a flavor to fit every mouth.

Jello No Sugar Added Jello Cups – Who doesn’t love Jell- O? These three-ounce cups come in a variety of flavors and make it easy to satisfy a sweet tooth. With less than 10 calories per serving, and fat free, these feel decadent and naughty but don’t fill the tummy.

Kozy Shack Smart Gels and Pudding Cups – These are my personal favorite lunch box desserts. All natural ingredients, gluten-free and without high fructose corn syrup, these puddings come in traditional rice, tapioca, chocolate and vanilla. In addition, a line marketed for children called CowRageous! offers individual 3.75 ounce servings of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. The CowRageous! line puddings are 100 calories with 3 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein, which makes for a tasty treat that feels like an indulgence.

Stonyfield Farms Yogurt tubes  – Individual tubes of organic yogurt, these tasty snacks have no artificial ingredients and no high fructose corn syrup. They contain live cultures and come in both tubes and four-ounce cups. The tubes are especially lunch box friendly, as they can be frozen and will thaw by lunch time. Offered in strawberry, cherry and berry.

What lunch box treats do you give the healthy seal of approval?

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