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If you’re like me, you started the school year off with a bang, armed with brand new lunch gear and a ton of Pinterest lunchbox ideas. And, if you’re like me, you’re already running out of steam. This whole packing-lunch-every-day business is no joke! Thankfully, Target comes to the rescue (when does it not?) with a whole slew of new products that work perfectly in lunchboxes and are healthy to boot. I use whole foods as much as possible, but it’s a relief knowing that there are choices out there I feel good about if I need them in a pinch. Here are a few of my favorites (photos were taken over several weeks, so sale prices do not apply):
1. Squeezable pouches. Squeeze pouches are awesome on the go. GoGo Squeez now has fruit and veggie combos, and if you’re a chia seed fan, Mamma Chia pouches are now at Target! I spotted some other brands too, including Target’s Simply Balanced. Don’t forget the yogurt aisle for yogurt tubes and new Stonyfield yogurt pouches. Tip: freeze pouches so that they’ll defrost by lunchtime and still stay cold.
2. Granola bars. Some new products I spotted are Bear Naked bars, Cascadian Farm protein granola bars, Annie’s, and Plum bars.
3. Annie’s products. I’m sure you’ve noticed that Annie’s has come out with a ton of new products. You can find them in regular aisles or in a special “Made to Matter” endcap to highlight healthy living. These snack kits are adorable, and perfect for grabbing to snack in the car, during after-school activities, or to distribute a la carte in lunchboxes. My kids are loving the fruit snacks and barnyard animal cookies; there are barnyard animal crackers in the same colors and designs (not shown).
4. Lunchmeat. If you’re looking for all-natural and nitrate-free lunchmeats, Applegate is a go-to brand–Cartwheel often has coupons for them, too. Simply Balanced caught up and now makes nitrate-free lunchmeat, hot dogs, and bacon at a slightly lower price point.
5. Horizon shaped cheese. Look. How. Cute! For anyone who says they don’t have time to cut food into cutesy shapes, this is the answer. Each bag comes with several different shapes that add instant fun to a meal. Look for Horizon string cheese, too (not pictured).
6. Woats and Somersaults. I’ve been wanting to try these two brands; Woats are granola clusters, and Somersaults are sunflower seed-based, nut-free snack clusters. All the flavors sound amazing; when I do finally buy them, I hope they last long enough to actually make it into my kids’ lunches.
7. Gluten-free cookies. I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of new gluten-free foods, from cookies and crackers to baking mixes. If your family or kids are on a GF diet, it looks like Target has several solid options.
8. Chips. Has anyone tried these new rolled tortilla chips? I love that they’re organic but I don’t know what to think of the shape. I can see them being great for little mouths, though. Way Better Snacks are newish, too, at least in my local stores. I’m addicted to their Sweet Potato and their Sweet Chili flavors (insert heart-eyed emoji) and I like that they’re made from non-GMO corn and sprouted grains (more nutritional value and easier to digest).
9. Freeze-dried fruit. These have a relatively high sugar content, so I don’t use them often, but still a better option than sugary snacks or candy without any real nutritional value.
10. Coconut water. I have to confess: I was nervous when I bought these for my kids. Coconut water can be an acquired taste; but at 8 grams of sugar per juicebox vs. 20+ grams in standard juiceboxes (yes, you read that right), I was willing to get them acquired. Turns out they LOVED it–Paradise Punch is their favorite. My two-year-old claps whenever I ask her if she wants “monkey juice”.
I’ll leave you with a pic of a DIY lunchables lunch I made for my first grader using Applegate ham and cheddar cheese, crackers, celery, apples, and peanut butter for dipping. The dip container is also from Target; it’s by Sistema and comes in a 4-pack. This took under 10 minutes to make from start to finish, including cutting. So it’s possible, people! Feel free to follow me on Instagram where I post daily lunches and food art, or browse my blog for inspiration. Happy packing!
Selena Kohng is a mom of three by day and freelance writer and blogger by night. She started making fun food for her kids to encourage them to eat healthier, and it’s her most addicting hobby. Clearance shopping at Target is a close second. Follow her bento lunches and food art on her personal blog, How About Cookie, on Instagram, and on her Facebook fan page.