In fantasyland, every parent has time to prepare gourmet, organic food for their children’s lunchboxes. In the real world, most of us are lucky to get our kids to school with lunches that aren’t loaded with artificial ingredients, trans fats and sugar.
For time-pressed parents, a host of somewhat nutritious prepackaged lunchbox items can help with the morning rush.
According to a report from the Nielsen Co., a global marketing research firm based in Syosset, 900 new single-serving snack items appeared in produce departments from 2012 to 2016, including single servings of cut-up fruit, dried fruit and nut snack mixes, and fresh smoothies.
In response to the demand for packable protein, sales of meat snacks such as jerky also have increased, accounting for $2.8 billion in sales last year. While egg sales in general are down, snack packs featuring a hard-boiled egg are flying off the shelves. Nielsen data show that almost as many packs have been sold in the first half of 2017 as in all of 2016.
Stock your refrigerator and pantry with a variety of these single-serving dips, smoothies, juices and snacks, and you can shave precious minutes off the morning routine. Simply throw a few into the lunchbox and send the kids off with confidence. Almost all major supermarkets stock these items. Prices may vary.
Organic Valley Snack Sticks
Real Cheddar cheese made with milk from pasture-raised cows, are individually wrapped for small appetites. Price: Six (.75-ounce) sticks for $5.99
Motts Sliced Green Apples
Individual 2-ounce bags of apple slices that stay fresh in the refrigerator for several weeks save time and waste and are perfect vehicles for peanut butter and other nut spreads. Price: $4.69 for six (2-ounce) bags
Starkist Charlies Lunch Kit
A tiny can of tuna, six crackers, low-fat mayo and relish come with a wooden spoon for making your own tuna and crackers. Price: $1.99 each
Justins Nut Butter Squeeze Packs
These little packets of high-protein almond or peanut butter can be squeezed onto crackers, fruit slices or veggies. Price: $1.39 each
P3 Portable Protein Packs
With nuts, seeds and beef or ham jerky, these combo packs provide 13 grams of protein, up to 75 percent of the recommended daily requirement depending on the age and weight of your child. Price: $2.19 each
Planters NUT-rition Protein Mix
Each 250-calorie pack of peanuts, granola clusters, almonds and dark chocolate-covered soy nuts has 10 grams of protein (between 25 percent to 60 percent of the recommended daily allowance depending on the weight and age of your child). Price: Five (1.72-ounce) packets for $10.79
Sargento Balanced Breaks
Packs of Cheddar cheese, cashews and dried cranberries with 180 calories and 7 grams of protein. Other varieties available. Price: $3.99 for three (1.5-ounce) servings
My Gourmet Tuna
Premixed tuna salad with mayo and veggies comes with Ritz-type crackers for scooping. Price: $3.99 each
Peanut Butter & Co. Dipping Cups
Small cups of peanut butter that can be packed with crackers or veggies for an easy lunch or snack. Price: $5.39 for five (1.5-ounce) cups
Wholly Guacamole Minis
Pack these small servings of organic guacamole with chips or veggies. Price: $5.99 for four (2-ounce) servings
Cedars Tzatziki Snack Pack With Pretzels
The pack has 150 calories and 6 grams of protein. Other healthy dips and crackers available. Price: $2.99
Sabra Hummus with Rold Gold Pretzels
Little tubs of hummus with 10 grams of protein available in a variety of flavors including classic, red pepper and roasted garlic, accompanied by thin pretzels for dipping. Price: $2.19 each
Horizon Organic Good & Go!
Organic Cheddar cheese cubes with a mix of raisins, cashews and dried cranberries, have 7 grams of protein. Price: $1.99 each
Capri Sun Fruit & Veggie Blends
Juice with no added sugar in combinations such as beet-apple and carrot-sweet-potato. Price: $3.69 for 10 (6-ounce) pouches
Ocean's Halo The Seaweed Snack
An interesting alternative to chips, with B12 vitamins and iodine. In various flavors including sea salt, sriracha and Texas BBQ. Price: $1.69 each
Crystal Farms Ready Egg Go!
The peeled hard-boiled egg, cashews and Gouda cheese cubes provide18 grams of protein. Price: $2.99
Dont Go Nuts Roasted Soybean Spread
Plain, cinnamon and chocolate spreads are good for kids with allergies or at peanut-free schools. Price: $1.69 each
Stonyfield Organic Whole Milk Yogurt
In drinkable pouches and in smoothie bar combinations such as pear-spinach-mango and strawberry-beet-berry. Price: $1.49 each
Hormel Natural Choice snack assortments
A selection of turkey breast, Cheddar cheese and dark chocolate-covered pretzels (other assortments include ham and chicken), precut into tiny bites for the littlest hands. Price: $2.19 each