Pre-Packaged Kids Foods: The Worst Offenders

As my two kids get older, I'm starting to feel like there are fewer and fewer moments in the day. I'm also feeling like feeding them both is a full time job all by itself. So, I've started wondering about some common convenience, pre-packaged foods — are they healthy for my kids? For some foods, the answer is yes. But there are also a lot of surprisingly unhealthy options out there. Hidden salt, sugar, and trans fat abounds, not to mention lengthy lists of unpronounceable chemical ingredients. Just because the food industry wants our kids to eat this stuff, doesn't mean they should. Below the jump are 11 of the worst pre-packaged kids' food offenders.

— brooklynsupper, Babble


Cheese and Sandwich Crackers
Image: Dwight Burdette

Cheese-flavored and sandwich crackers can seem like a satisfying and quick snack option, but beware — even a single serving of these little crackers can have nearly 15 percent of the DV for fat and almost 10 percent of the DV for sodium, and many are loaded with trans fat, high-fructose corn syrup, MSG, and artificial dyes. Next time your kiddo needs a quick snack, put a slice of real cheese to a whole-grain cracker with plenty of fiber.

Make your own whole-grain cheese crackers.


Sugary Cereals
Image: Tim Skillern

Brightly colored, sugary cereals are made for and marketed to kids, so they can't be that bad right? Think again. Many sugary kids' cereals are more than 50 percent sugar by weight.

More on what's really in kids' favorite breakfast foods.


Chicken Nuggets
Image: Evan-Amos

Chicken is a great source of lean protein, and kids love the fun of dipping it in various sauces. But there's a lot more on the ingredient list of chicken nuggets than chicken. In fact, nuggets are made with parts of the chicken that aren't usually eaten, and are held together with meat glue (also known as transglutaminase). If that's not enough to turn you off, chicken nuggets deliver around 25 percent of the DV for fat and sodium.

Worst of the worst: 15 foods that are ruining our health.


Box Mac and Cheese

Open my cabinet and you'll find a few boxes of this stuff. It's great in a pinch, and kids really love it. But I wish they'd change the name to shells and cheese powder or something like that. Covenience aside, boxed mac and cheese can pack a salty punch — one of the leading brands of boxed mac and cheese has 580 milligrams of sodium per serving — that's almost 25 percent of the RDA for adults. For a healthier option, try making your own.

Ditch the box: make homemade mac and cheese in 15 minutes.


Cereal Bars

Parents love cereal bars because they're an easy grab-and-go snack or breakfast, and made right, they can be a life saver. But some bars can have loads of sugar, fat, trans fat, and little to no fiber or protein. Look for a balanced bar that's easy on the sugar and big on whole grains, fiber, and protein.

More on selecting a better breakfast here.


Click here for more Worst Pre-Packaged Foods for Kids.


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