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Do you want to eat healthier? Does the thought of making everything from scratch make you break out in hives? I know how hard it can be to revamp your pantry and serve only homemade from scratch wholesome foods everyone, including your kids, will eat.
If you’re going to be purchasing some processed foods, there are certain things you need to look out for. My number one tip in purchasing processed store bought foods is to read the labels!
Please, for the love of Pete (who is Pete anyways?), and the love of your family, read the labels. If you see high fructose corn syrup (5 reasons high fructose corn syrup can kill you), corn syrup (unless organic), caramel coloring (linked to cancer), and food dye (why food dye is not safe), put it back on the shelf.
Once you start reading labels you’ll be shocked at what you find in some of your staple ingredients. While making some of these products at home is super smart and doesn’t require a huge time commitment, like homemade bread in less than 5 minutes a day, taco seasoning mix, and condensed canned soup replacement, others aren’t so easy.
This is my list of processed food I serve my family. These are also great items to have on hand from a preparedness survival aspect. These don’t require any refrigeration or power to store. To serve, most only require heating, or water. The exception is the mac and cheese, but it only requires 3 tablespoons of milk. They’re also light weight, so easy to pack for bug out bags, hikes, or camping.
My son (aka picky eater) prefers this brand of Mac and Cheese compared to Kraft.
1. Annie’s Homegrown Mac and Cheese. There’s three different flavors we’ve tried and love them all. I’ve purchased them from Costco and our regular grocery store. I love that they use organic pasta, milk, cheese, butter, salt, and annatto for coloring. Plus, the shelf life is an average of two years.
Cold cereal picks. Our usual breakfast foods consist of sourdough pancakes, eggs from our flock, waffles, french toast, bacon, and sometimes sausage. But my kids enjoy cold cereal and some mornings, it just works out for me to serve them cold cereal. Sugar and food dye laden cold cereals are not allowed. Our food should have some nutritional value and regular cold cereal doesn’t fit my guidelines.
But these two brands of cold cereal are ones I don’t feel bad about serving my kids and they are excited to have. Two very important factors. Because anyone who has tried to serve their kids healthy versions of things, knows turned up noses and tightly clamped lips leads to a very unhappy mama and kiddos.
2. Cascadian Farms Organic Fruitful O’s and Nature Path’s Organic EnviroKidz line. These are also good as a snack for on the go munchies. Perfect for hikes, camping, or trips to town. We call it down below around here, it’s a mountain living thing.
3. Our favorite is the Leapin Lemur peanut butter and chocolate blend. The EnviroKidz is organic, and GMO and Gluten free. They’re lower in sugar and neither of these brands use fake food dye. The chocolate rice is really good too, think whole foods version cocoa crispies.
I do not purchase canned condensed soups. Most contain GMO chemicals and are in BPA lined cans. I make a lot of soups at home. Soup is a great way to stretch the budget and is usually frugal to make. In fact my slow cooker bean and ham soup is less than $.54 a serving.
But there’s some days when I didn’t prepare anything for my lunch and I’m in a hurry. I generally don’t eat out, it’s too expensive and in the town I work, we’re really limited to healthy options. These soups are in cartons (no adding water, great for an emergency situation), no BPA cans, no GMO ingredients, and are certified organic. Plus, I get them on sale for usually $2.50 and that’s enough for two servings.
4 and 5. I like both Pacific and Imagine Organic soups. I try to keep at least four boxes on hand and stock up when they go on sale. I’ve found them at Fred Meyers and our local co-op. Plus, they taste like homemade. And nothing beats hot soup on a cold day.
6. These are two of my sweet treat processed food favorites. I found this awesome brand at our local co-op called Dandies or you can snag them from our affiliate partner Amazon Dandies Air-puffed Vanilla Marshmallows. When we go camping, I have to have smores, and these fit the bill perfectly.
7. My co-op carries these GMO, dairy, and gluten free chocolate chips, but if you don’t have a co-op or store nearby, our affiliate partner Amazon has the same brand of these Chocolate Chips here. It’s chocolate, enough said. Great in cookies, cakes, dipping for marshmallows (Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt Covered Marshmallows), or by the handful…
8. When I run out of homemade fruit leather, my kids love these in their packed lunches or for a quick snack. Non-GMO verified Stretch Island Fruit Company. These are also great as a food storage item as they’re individually sealed.
What are some of the biggest changes you’ve made to your food? What brands do you use instead of the standard GMO and chemical filled filling supermarket shelves?
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Melissa K. Norris inspires people's faith and pioneer roots with her books, podcast, and blog. Melissa lives with her husband and two children in their own little house in the big woods in the foothills of the North Cascade Mountains. When she's not wrangling chickens and cattle, you can find her stuffing Mason jars with homegrown food and playing with flour and sugar in the kitchen.