We all want to serve our families healthy, home-cooked food. I would love to be able to cook my family three hot, nutritious meals a day, plus serve healthy, homemade snacks. Wouldn’t you? While I do manage to cook a lot of the time, everybody is busy with school, work, activities, and life in general, and sometimes cooking from scratch is too much to manage. Sometimes, quick, packaged foods are the right answer. But the question then becomes, What are some easy and quick convenience foods that I can give my kids, without worrying that I’m feeding them a bunch of fat, empty calories and junk? It’s a difficult question, but it turns out that there are quick and easy packaged foods that you can give your kids for a quick meal or snack that are not terribly unhealthy. Here’s a short list.
- Spaghettios. I bet you weren’t expecting that! I wasn’t either, but it turns out that this circular pasta has no trans fats, no MSG, contains around 6-8 grams of protein, and even contains some vitamins, fiber, calcium, and iron. They are high in sodium, so don’t go crazy with them, but once in awhile, they’re not a bad choice.
- String cheese. You really can’t go wrong with string cheese for a snack. A stick of string cheese provides about the same amount of calcium that you would find in a 4 ounce glass of milk. String cheese is easy, it’s fun to eat, and it’s most definitely not junk.
- Cheez-its. These little square crackers contain no artificial flavors or colors, and they come with four grams of protein. They contain fat, true, but they don’t contain any trans-fats. That’s not bad at all for a snack that’s both crunchy and cheesy.
- Cheerios. We all know that it’s good to avoid those overly sugary breakfast cereals. But Honey Nut Cheerios and Apple Cinnamon Cheerios both manage to be sweet enough to appeal to kids without being unhealthy. Each of these cereals only contains 9 grams of sugar (as a comparison, consider that Raisin Bran contains 20 grams of sugar.) On top of that, they contain protein as well.
- Broccoli-Chicken Lean Pockets. We know these are lower in fat than the regular variety of Hot Pockets. But these Lean Pockets also have a vegetable serving, protein, and vitamin A.
You can find a lot of information on foods that are meant to appear healthy but really aren’t. And it seems that some of the foods that we may think of as unhealthy really aren’t so bad after all. The best thing that you can do is keep a close eye on the nutrition labels when you shop. You may be surprised at what you’re really eating!