Truth is folks if it's in a box or a bag, and not fresh from a tree, plant, or bush, then its not that great for us. We need to eat less of these types of foods, and less often. My rule is most definitely if God didn't make it, then don't consume it at all. I know, it can be exceedingly difficult, especially if that is what your family has been used to eating a majority of the time. Even if it's organic, and you bought it at Whole Paycheck, oops, Whole Foods, it's still not stellar. I do applaud the organic efforts though.
I am a realist though so what I'd like to do in this entry is to direct you to some better boxed and bagged choices. I'll be looking at health first, then cost, and next health for the environment. I think all of these things are important. I'll also be discussing some easier "whole food" choices for families on the go.
My first piece of advice to you is to get a small rolling cooler, you know the ones that look like small suitcases. The thing has saved my life in matter of speaking. I bought mine a few years ago on clearance with a 20% off coupon at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. it goes with me almost everywhere. Sometimes it just stays in the car, but for those times when it needs to come out, it's much better than lugging a shoulder strap cooler, or individual lunch bags.
For the packaged foods I'd prefer you to cut out anything with the following: high fructose corn syrup (just plain bad for you), corn syrup (unless its organic you can be sure it's GMO), sugar (this means its plain old white beached processed sugar), food colorings of any kind unless from fruits/spices, soy, soy lecithin, natural flavorings (unless organic), corn oil (unless organic, and don't eat too much of the stuff, its not great), white flour, whole grain flour(who knows what grains they are),white rice, non-organic corn chips/popcorn, non-organic potato chips, agave (its a sugar alcohol that toxifies your liver amongst other things, even the "raw" one, don't eat it), fruit concentrates, brown sugar (no its not good either, it's just white sugar with molasses added), and homogenized dairy products. If I think of anything else I'll get back to you.
Once you get those things out of the way, and the more you know what to look for the easier it is to get certain products out of the way. If you can find products in cardboard boxes or paper bags that is much healtheir for us and the environment. The less plastic the better. Try to avoid food in aluminum coated bags. Sometimes that's really difficult. You can't get certain foods any other way.
Here are some packed foods that we buy in our house: Trader Joes Organic Blue Corn Chips(these are the best ones in a bag around for taste and price $2.99), Snap Pea Crisps(Trader Joes and Whole Foods sell these for $1.49 a bag), Trader Joes Salt and Pepper Rice Crisps (I think these are around $1.79 per bag), and as a treat every once in a whileWhole Foods 365 Brand Organic Potato Chips( $2.99 per bag). I do let the kids eat those little boxes of raisins, and fruit leather strips. The 365 brand is ok, so are the ones from Trader Joes and Wegmans. I think the Wegmans brand taste the best.
We don't do any drinks other than water anymore unless it's herbal tea at home that I sweeten for the kids with raw honey. In colder weather we'll do hot carob milk with rice milk or almond milk. I'll heat some dairy free milk in a pan, use a table spoon of carob powder (you can get this at Whole Foods), and then sweeten with a little raw honey. My younger son likes cold carob milk as a treat also. Carob is a tree that is very popular in the Middle East. It is in the pea family. The beans/peas in the pods are edible, and very good for you..
We don't do chocolate anymore. I realize that is inconceivable to many. I too love the taste of chocolate. Ok, close your eyes if want to, but chocolate is very, very bad for you. Yes, there are antioxidants in dark chocolate..blah, blah, blah. Eat some blueberries if you want antioxidants. However, if you want more stimulants than in a cup of coffee, and to ingest numerous other chemicals, eat chocolate. I discovered that chocolate is a food that makes me very ill. I never realized it until I removed it from my diet, then had a little bit, and became very sick. If your family still eats chocolate, eat it in small amounts.
We still eat pasta, but have switched to brown rice pasta at Trader Joes. It's very economical there. Since my older son cannot eat wheat this option works well for us. I don't buy jarred pasta sauce anymore. If you do, I recommend Whole Foods 365 Brand fat free organic marinara sauce. There is not any soybean oil in it. You can always add garlic, herbs, and sea salt to it if you want to flavor it up more. As a cheat I do sometimes buy plain organic strained tomato sauce in a jar by Bionature. It's steap at $3.39 a jar, but you can add anything you want to it, and control what goes in there. They sell tomato paste in a small jar of the same brand.
Beware of little snack cookies and cakes, even if they come from health food stores. A lot of time these products contain soy, lots of sodium, and way too much sugar. Homemade cookies are a MUCH better choice. In the cracker isle at Whole Foods there is a brown rice cracker, without soy, and it's about $2.99 a pack. I cannot think of the brand, but if your child loves crackers, and you are trying to avoid gluten, those are great! They taste pretty good.
As I think of more ideas I will add them here. Any questions?