Our recent three week trip to Costa Rica has made me appreciate quality convenience foods. While on the road, packaged foods are a necessary evil, so I am grateful that there are so many tasty, healthful options available.
In an ideal world, I would serve my little Monkey only homemade food, but the reality of modern life is otherwise. Whether you’re traveling or simply need a break from the kitchen, sometimes convenience foods are just want you need.
Luckily, these days this does not mean feeding your child junk food. There are so many high-quality, nutritious convenience foods out there, that you can easily feed your little one packaged foods without worrying about filling his innocent little tummy with chemicals, dyes, and processed sugars.
Here are some of the convenience foods we have discovered that our little Monkey loves and that we as his parents love to give him.
On the Road
Annie’s Bunnies: Annie’s brand has a number of great products that you can feel comfortable giving to your little ones, plus they are super tasty. My little Monkey loves the Cheddar bunnies. One night recently he even fell asleep saying, “More…bunnies…pwease…”
Trader Joe’s Fruit and Nut Trek Mix Granola Bars: So far these are the only granola bars I feel comfortable giving my little Monkey. Others are either a bit too hard for him to chew or are covered in sugary toppings. These bars are still sweet but not overly so, and they are full of dried fruits, so they are healthier than many other packaged snacks. The only caution for feeding these to young children is that they do contain whole almonds. I usually just make sure to pick those out before giving the bar to my little one.
Trader Joe’s Cereal Bars: These cereal bars are a healthier version of popular cereal bars, with much less sugar and artificial ingredients. They are sweet but filling and because of their soft texture are especially nice for young children who may not be able yet to munch on granola bars or other crunchy snacks.
Ak-Mak Crackers: My little Monkey loves crackers, and these are simple, healthy crackers that are also really tasty. Great alone or served with cheese or nut butter.
Squeezers: We discovered these long ago when my little Monkey was just starting solids (see picture at top of post). They are basically purees in easy to carry squeeze pouches. My little Monkey loves them because they taste great and the pouches are fun. We love them because they are a great way to give your child fruits and veggies he might not otherwise touch. This type of snack has become quite popular, and now many different companies have versions available. Our favorites are from Happy Baby and Plum Organics, which are all natural and use organic ingredients. Trader Joe’s also has good (cheaper) versions, although their flavors are not as varied (mostly apple and carrot).
Smoothies: As mentioned in an earlier post, many parents (ourselves included) don’t like to give too much juice to their kids, since it can fill them up on too much natural sugar without all of the benefits of the whole fruit. And yet, there is no way around the fact that kids (and adults!) love juice. And when our little Monkey was quite small, he was not interested in eating many fruits and vegetables. The situation is much better today, but we still take any opportunity we can to give him added fruits and veggies. Smoothies are a great solution, because, unlike plain juice, they usually include more of the whole fruit, just in pureed form. My favorite brands are Naked Juices and Odwalla. Great tasting, all natural ingredients, and lots of variety in flavors.
Yummy’s Dino Buddies Chicken Breast Nuggets: This was another big hit with our little Monkey. All kids seem to love chicken nuggets, and this is a relatively healthy version that can be on the table in under a minute.
Trader Joe’s Fish Sticks: I’m not sure if he likes the fish sticks or the ketchup more, but either way, these fish sticks were the first way we were able to get our little Monkey to try fish. This version has no fillers, and the breading is not greasy, though if you have time I would definitely recommend cooking rather than microwaving them for a crispier texture. (We use our toaster oven for this. Not only do we save energy, but they also cook more quickly than in the regular oven).
Cascadian Farms French Fries: Again, a healthy version of a food kids love. I love that Cascadian Farms is such a reputable brand of healthful foods. As with the fish sticks, I recommend cooking them in the oven rather than in the microwave.
What convenience foods do you love?
Please note: I am not receiving any compensation for the above recommendations, just sharing the foods we enjoy.