The Truth About Convenience Foods

School Age

Convenience foods—they’re already packaged, they go together in a jiffy (who couldn’t use a little extra time in the mornings?) and the kids beg for them at the store. You know those processed, prepackaged foods are something they’ll actually eat and hey, some of them are even fruit ... seems healthy enough, right?

Wrong.

Processed foods have unhealthy additives

Processed foods in general are chock full of additives, unhealthy fats, salt and sugars. In fact, the typical prepackaged lunch contains as much sugar as 40 jelly beans and as much fat as a serving of ice cream.

Confusing labeling

Prepackaged fruit snacks, even ones labeled “organic” or “made with fruit” carry a heavy toll because they are loaded with syrupy sugars and additives. Each small pack contains about three teaspoons of sugar, which is the maximum amount of added sugar the American Heart Association recommends for your child to have in an entire day.

What’s missing

What these convenience foods don’t have is the fiber, vitamins and minerals your child needs to stay full and energized for the rest of the school day.

Solution 1: make your own sectioned lunch

This homemade lunch pack has less sugar and salt and more nutrients and costs less than the prepackaged version.

Solution 2: choose school lunch

New school meal guidelines ensure your child gets a balanced meal that includes whole grains, protein, fruit, veggies, and low-fat dairy—and for a better price. Other benefits to school lunch? You save time not having to pack lunches and you save money. The average school lunch is $2.45 versus the average packed lunch is $3.81—that’s a difference of over $240 per year.