Guest Post: by Kensey Goebel, Contributing Author

With back to school approaching fast, we often find ourselves turning to processed snacks because they are prepackaged and easy to grab on the go and to pack with lunches. A lot of times these prepackaged snacks are filled with added sugar, calories and preservatives. Here are some simple recipes that can be made ahead of time and packed with lunches. This way you know exactly what you and your kids are eating because you made them yourself.

Granola Bars are a easy snack and they are full of nutrients to keep you full and keep your brain focused while at school. Here is a recipe to make your own granola bars. You can modify the recipe by adding your favorite ingredients such as dried fruit, chocolate chips, peanut butter, or anything else. 


[yumprint-recipe id=’50’]Fruit Leather – Have you ever looked at the label on a fruit roll up. Here is an example of one here:{61B5F938-8BBC-4690-897E-7CE7E198FA8C}

They contain pear concentrate, sugar and corn syrup along with artificial coloring and preservatives. They taste yummy but this product along with most other fruit snacks or gummies actually contain little or no fruit and a lot of added sugar and artificial flavorings to make it taste the like fruit. Here is a much healthier homemade version that your kids can even help make. These do take some time but they can easily be prepared overnight.

I started out with a few jars and chopped strawberries, then pureed them into a liquid and put them on parchment paper and cooked on a low heat overnight. Hint, if you don’t want to wait quite as long, you can put the pureed mixture into a saucepan and cook it on medium low for about 3o minutes to reduce the water content, then you can follow the directions below and cook for about 3 hours instead of the full time. 

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Lunchables are an easy go to meal for lunch because they are prepackaged and cheap, however they are high in sodium and unneeded ingredients. For example, the extra cheesy Oscar Meyer Pizza Lunchable (always was my favorite growing up) has 270 calories, 10 g of fat and 630 mg of sodium and more than 30 ingredients total! You can easily make this on your own and with way less sodium and far fewer ingredients by getting a divided container, adding pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese and follow this recipe for the crust. These crusts can be made ahead of time and frozen and pulled out as needed.

[yumprint-recipe id=’49’]We wish you the best with going back to school. Hoping that some of these ideas and recipes help you kick-start a great year!