Homemade Healthier Lunchables from 100 Days of Real Food

Homemade Healthier Lunchables

Yes, packing a healthy, balanced, unprocessed lunch for your child requires a little effort, BUT in the end – it’s so worth it! Have you ever taken a close look at what some of the prepackaged (agreeably, more convenient) “lunches” really contain?

Store Bought Lunchables Contain…

Ingredients you know are bad:

  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Hydrogenated Oils
  • Artificial Flavors
  • Mechanically Separated Chicken
  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
  • Sodium Nitrites

Ingredients you do not cook with at home:

  • Sodium Diacetate
  • Potassium Chloride
  • Potassium Sorbate (Preservative)
  • Monocalcium Phosphate
  • Thiamine Mononitrate
  • Monocalcium Phosphate
  • Calcium Propionate
  • Whey Protein Concentrate
  • BHA and BHT

Ingredients that are mysteriously evasive… probably for a reason:

  • Flavor
  • Natural Flavors

Now, I don’t think one Lunchable is going to put anyone’s health over the edge, but please tell me we can all agree this is not what we should be feeding our children on a weekly basis. So let me leave you with some similar, much better alternatives that you can make at home!

Lunchable Makeover: Ham and American Cracker Stacks

Call me old-fashioned, but (in an ideal world) I think everyone’s lunch should contain some sort of fresh fruit or vegetable. So I took the liberty of adding organic grapes to this lunch.

Homemade Healthier Lunchables

Lunchable Brand Ingredients:

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies – Sugar, Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate {Vitamin B1}, Riboflavin {Vitamin B2}, Folic Acid), High Oleic Canola And/Or Palm And/Or Canola Oil, Cocoa (Processed With Alkali), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Cornstarch, Leavening (baking Soda And/Or Calcium Phosphate), Salt, Soy Lecithin, Vanillin – An Artificial Flavor, Chocolate.

Cooked Ham – Water Added – Chopped and Formed – Smoke Flavor Added – Ham, Water, Contains Less Than 2% Of Sodium Lactate, Potassium Chloride, Modified Cornstarch, Sugar, Sodium Phosphate, Salt, Sodium Diacetate, Sodium Ascorbate, Flavor, Sodium Nitrite, Smoke Flavor.

Pasteurized Prepared American Cheese Product – Milk, Water, Milkfat, Milk Protein Concentrate, Whey, Whey Protein Concentrate, Contains Less Than 2% Of Sodium Citrate, Salt, Lactic Acid, Sorbic Acid As A Preservative, Cheese Culture  Enzymes, Oleoresin Paprika (Color), Annatto (Color), With Starch Added For Slice Separation.

Crackers – Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Vegetable Shortening (Soybean Oil, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil With TBHQ And Citric Acid Added To Help Flavor), Sugar, Leavenings (Baking Soda And/Or Monocalcium Phosphate), Salt, Whey (From Milk), Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavor, Enzymes.

Homemade Version Ingredients*:

Dark Chocolate – Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Cocoa, Raw Cane Sugar, Vanilla Extract.

Organic Ham – Pork, Water. Contains Less Than 2% Of The Following: Sea Salt, Honey, Cane Sugar, Celery Powder.

Cheddar Cheese – Pasteurized Milk, Salt, Cheese Culture, Rennet, Annatto Color.

TJs Whole-Wheat Wafer Crackers – Whole Wheat, High Oelic Safflower Oil and/or High Oelic Sunflower Oil, Salt.

Grapes – Grapes

*Organic ingredients were sourced when possible. Not all ingredients in the “Homemade Version” are technically 100 Days of Real Food approved, but are still far superior to the store-bought version.

More DIY Lunch Ideas

I’d love for you to check out my blog for…

Please share your favorite healthy school lunch ideas in the comments below!

About the Author

100 Days of Real FoodLisa Leake is a wife, mother, foodie, blogger and author of the #1 New York Times Best-Seller, 100 Days of Real Food. She began chronicling her family’s journey on 100DaysofRealFood.com when in 2010 they decided to start seeking out the real food in our processed food world. What started as a simple pledge has turned into a valuable and practical resource that’s now read by millions around the globe. Lisa has appeared on Dr. Oz, Good Morning America, CNN, and The Doctors TV Show. Follow Lisa on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

A photo of Andrew Wilder leaning into the frame and smiling, hovering over mixing bowls in the kitchen.

Welcome to Eating Rules!

Hi! My name is Andrew Wilder, and I think healthy eating doesn’t have to suck. With just three simple eating rules, we'll kickstart your journey into the delicious and vibrant world of unprocessed food.

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July 24, 2015 12:03 pm

Where do you find the ham rounds? Did you cut them yourself?

November 17, 2013 5:51 am

Be careful with putting sauce/dressing in one of the dividers. Many of the divided lunch boxes aren’t leakproof. I found some tiny quarter sized reusable containers for sauce at the container store, and include those in the lunch.

October 31, 2013 6:49 pm

That’s one year and 31 days of unprocessed food. This year I even challenged my children. They were good sports(once they figured it out about 15 days into it) and you know what? It’s 945 pm and no one has even eaten any of the candy we bought for Halloween … And even better… No one missed it! Hurrah!!
Bonus, I lost 32 lbs

October 31, 2013 3:16 pm

This is great,not only for kids, but grown-ups, too! My husband and I make frequent trips that take us away from home for lunch. We don’t like buying a burger without knowing what we are eating, and anyway your “lunch-able” looks quite appealing. Thank you!

October 31, 2013 9:18 am

Oh, thank you for this! My daughter has been begging me to let her get Lunchables to take to school. She is going through a phase where the cute packaging seems to matter as much as what the lunch contains. I don’t like Lunchables because of the health reasons you mention here, but also because of all that unnecessary plastic packaging. And, they are so expensive for what you are getting.

The really silly thing is that I already *have* the silicone baking cups that I use in her lunches and the separated lunch containers, but have never thought to arrange them this way. They are so cute and I bet she will love eating her homemade ‘lunchable’ lunch.

Thanks for a great idea.