In Lyon, France, elementary schoolers eat chef-prepared lunches made from scratch each day. Monday might be butternut squash soup and rice, as it was when Anthony Bourdain visited Chef Daniel Boulud's old grammar school on Parts Unknown.
Compare that to the United States, where most school-cafeteria lunches consist of reheated pre-packaged meals like Sloppy Joes or pizza. Ketchup is even considered a vegetable in some schools.
Packing lunches at home is one solution—but even parents who have the time and resources to do that might struggle to find healthy, tasty snack options. When you’re trying to save both time and money, it’s all too easy to rely on processed, packaged foods to round out the lunchbox. That’s why junk foods like Gushers and Fruit by the Foot are so popular—they’re convenient for mom and dad, don’t spoil easily, and taste great to kids. The downside? They’re often packed with refined sugar or high fructose corn syrup, food coloring, and artificial flavoring.
But there is a better option: Stretch Island Fruit Strips have the same fruity flavor kiddos love, without any added sugar or artificial ingredients. Made with only real fruit and fruit juices, they’re sweet enough to count as dessert—but so much healthier than conventional fruit snacks, candies, and cookies.
They’re made simply, starting with a blend of real fruit purées that are then dried into chewy snacks—and each each strip provides a 1/4-cup serving of fruit! Plus, most flavors pack in an impressive amount of vitamin C, which has been linked to faster healing and healthier skin. (Apple-cinnamon is the only one without vitamin C.)
When you or your kids are craving a treat, try one of these four tempting flavors:
- Strawberry: This summery variety includes a blend of apples, pears, and of course, strawberries.
- Grape: Throw it back to the days of PB&J and Welch’s grape juice with this classic flavor—inside, there’s nothing but pure apples, pears, and grapes.
- Cherry: If you love black forest cake and cherry pie, This blend of cherries, oranges, and apples is perfect for you.
- Apple-Cinnamon: Who doesn’t love sweet apples and spicy cinnamon together? Lemon juice, the only other ingredient, rounds out the combo with a bit of tartness.
Photo credit: Alicia Cho