Eating real food means making almost everything from scratch. And that’s good. Single ingredient, whole foods, and those you prepare yourself from those whole foods are always going to be the best. Michael Pollan points out that when our food is more expensive–both in cost and time preparation, we appreciate it more and tend to eat less calories over all, and they are healthier.
However, sometimes it’s nice to have products available that we can eat for emergencies, very busy times, times of illness, etc. There are precious few packaged products that are actual food (as opposed to food-like products).
So, here are a few products and brands to be on the look out for when you need convenience. This is not an exhaustive list, just to get you started.
Note: The links below are affiliate links and go to Amazon. They are just to show you what to look for (I’d never heard of some of these products before), but be sure to shop around for the best deals.
Before I get started, don’t forget about Nature’s fast food snack–fruit! Apples, bananas, a handful of grapes, are all quick & easy, very portable snacks, as are dried fruit, nuts, seeds, etc.
Raisins —packaged dried fruit such as raisins, dried cranberries, dried apples, bananas, etc. can make a great store bought snack. However, make sure to read ingredients lists to be sure there is no added sugar.
Peeled Organic Dried Fruit Snacks There are other brands of course, but this is one that generally has no added sugar or preservatives. They have several different varieties like mango, paradise found (mango, banana, and pineapple).
Bare Organic Apple Chips. 100% organic, and no added anything.
Larabar Cashew Cookie (ingredients: cashews, dates). They offer several other varieties as well and many are “real food approved.”
Udi’s Gluten Free Vanilla Granola–(ingredients: certified gluten free oats, wildflower honey, canola oil, almonds, vanilla extract). I like to add dried cranberries or raisins to mine. Yum! Note: This particular link is for a 3-pack.
Ak-Mak Crackers— (ingredients: 100% organically grown whole wheat flour stone ground, clover honey, sesame oil, dairy butter, sesame seeds, yeast, salt). These crackers have a couple more than the recommended 5 ingredients, but they are all pronounceable and recognizable.
Smucker’s Fruit-Fulls–We started off eating go-go squeezes, but they use juice concentrate, etc. in their products. Still better than the alternative, but I was so excited to find these Smucker’s fruit-fulls, with the simplest ingredients list I’ve seen. They come in several different flavors: Apple (ingredients: apples); Apple Strawberry (ingredients: apples, strawberries); Apple Mixed Berry (ingredients: apples, red raspberries, bluberries); Apple Cinnamon (ingredients: apple, cinnamon). These are great for picnics or on-the-go snacks, and my boys love them.
Original Triscuits—(ingredients: whole grain wheat, vegetable oil, sea salt). There are only a few available, but it’s nice to have some crackers that I can just buy and offer as snacks to my kids, or serve with a meal.
Wasa Whole Grain Crispbread—(ingredients: whole grain rye flour, yeast, salt). They have other variations available, some of which area also real food approved.
Finn Crisp Rye Snacks (ingredients: whole grain rye flour, sesame seeds, linseeds, water, yeast, sea salt). This brand also offers other variations.
Grassfed Jerky Chews There are several variations available and all are real food approved. The mild flavor has grassfed beef, Redmond Unrefined Sea Salt, Granulated Garlic, Black Pepper, and Organic Lemon Juice.
Justin’s Classic Peanut Butter Packets. (ingredients: dry roasted peanuts, palm fruit oil). We generally use jarred natural peanut butter with just peanuts and salt in the ingredients, but these are handy for eating on the go or when take-along snacks are needed.
Arrowhead Mills Puffed Cereals. I clearly remember the day I discovered these cereals. I was so excited! My boys still like cereal every now and then, and these work great. They are also great for adding to homemade granola bars and granola cereal. They have several single-ingredient varieties. They offer puffed millet, puffed corn, and puffed rice. (tip: some of these are available through Amazon Prime Pantry for very affordable prices! Great for me since I can’t get them locally)
Caveman Cookies. These have a few more than 5 ingredients, but they are all whole food ingredients. Also paleo and gluten-free.
Nature’s Path Organic Cereals They offer a variety of cereals with 5 or less natural ingredients. Corn Flakes (ingredients: corn meal and/or corn flour, grape and/or pear juice concentrate, sea salt); Rice Puffs (organic brown rice);
These foods don’t strictly meet the “real food” definition, or they have more than 4-5 ingredients, but they are better than most conventional foods. They may have refined ingredients, but they have a simple, familiar ingredients list, and no MSG’s, preservatives, HFCS, or artificial dyes. These are occasional treats.
Envirokidz Organic Cereals—My boys sometimes miss breakfast cereal. We mostly eat homemade granola cereal, but every once in a while I will purchase a box of one of these as a treat. They have much less sugar than most conventional brands, and they have a short, simple, and familiar ingredients list.
- Envirokidz Cinnamon Jungle Munch (Whole grain corn meal*, corn meal*, cane sugar*, brown sugar*, molasses*, cinnamon*, sea salt. *Organic.)
- Envirokidz Corn Puffs Gorilla Munch (Organic Corn Meal, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Sea Salt.) Also gluten-free
- Envirokidz Lightly Frosted Amazon Flakes (Organic Corn Meal, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Sea Salt.) Also gluten-free
Paleo Ranch Jerky (ingredients: Grass-fed and finished beef, organic raw coconut nectar, sea salt, organic honey, organic raw coconut aminos, organic raw coconut vinegar, organic black pepper, organic granulated garlic, organic minced onions)
Hint Flavored Water (ingredients:Water, Fruit, and natural flavors from non-GMO sources). I recommend drinking water plain, or homemade flavored water if possible. However, if that’s not possible and you’d like a little hint of flavor to your water, this is a great option.
Real Food Series