add free sch substitutes 2Welcome to part 2 of my blog on substituting additive free foods for common kids school lunches.  In Part 1 I provided you with some quick substitutes for common lunchbox items such as the good old vegemite sandwich, fruit juice and popcorn.  Quite often we think we are giving healthy options only to find they have many sneaky additives lurking, so the final four suggestions cover the tricky ‘seemingly healthy’ foods we need to eliminate to keep our kids additive free, happy and healthy.

1.  Muesli Bars & LCMs

Aside from the 6 different versions of sugar (which along with the usual health and addiction issues, will mess with insulin levels and moods in kids), LCMs contain BHA – a particularly nasty additive that is linked to asthma, skin issues, headaches/migraines and other allergic sensitivity reactions.  It also trains out kids tastebuds to want more and more sweet items instead of healthy fresh flavours.  I strongly recommend avoiding at all costs!  Plus, normal muesli bars often also have high levels of sugar and use dried fruit containing nasty preservatives.  Instead, here are two simple solutions.

Option 1 – Make your own muesli bars (see recipe here) or check out my cacao crackle recipe in gf ebook (out very soon!).

Option 2 – Scoop some vanilla yoghurt into a small container and in a separate one put some gluten free muesli (makes it very similar to rice bubbles) to sprinkle over top when it’s lunch time.


2. Flavoured yoghurt

Unfortunately, something that should be considered a healthy snack, is actually quite the opposite.  Most flavoured yoghurts contain unnecessary colouring, thickeners, flavours and preservatives.  But it is also one of the easiest products to replace and make additive free.  Simply buy natural (organic if you can) plain yoghurt and add fresh fruit, sugar free or organic jam, or a drizzle of honey or rice malt syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, nuts, granola muesli or buckinis (loving earth make caramelised ones an choc ones) for crunch.  If you are keeping the sugar levels low everywhere else, you can try some organic yoghurt flavoured varieties such as vanilla or fruit, but I recommend in moderation as they add up quickly in the sugar department and again mess with kids tastes and preferences, creating addictions to sweet foods very quickly.


3. Flavoured milk/milkshakes

The humble flavoured milk – a staple in almost every school canteen – is full of sugar, colouring, flavouring and preservatives.  Again, it’s an easy one to avoid the additives by making your own at home.  Be sure to use natural ingredients for flavouring and avoid the store bought flavouring syrups or toppings.

Instead, try homemade milkshakes using milk, yoghurt, fresh fruit, honey, vanilla, organic chocolate or organic chocolate powder, organic cacao or coco with raw sugar. Try our family favourites – milk, fresh strawberries or mango, natural yoghurt and a dollop or rice malt syrup or honey – yummo!  You can make these ahead of time and store them in a reusable drink container to take to school, or save them as an afternoon tea treat for after school.

The final school lunchbox filler to swap is a doozy…

4.  Ham and cheese sandwich

Ok, this one sounds healthy doesn’t it?  Unfortunately, it’s actually one of the worst offenders!  Bread – especially ham sandwichwhite supermarket loaves – usually contain preservatives.  Almost all spreadable butters and margarines contain preservatives, flavouring and colouring.   Cheese – a seemingly healthy food – again contains preservatives and the individually wrapped processed slices also contain colouring.  Finally, ham – almost always contains a cocktail of preservatives, colouring, flavours and just about sums up all you should avoid when it comes to additives.  In fact, almost all store bought processed meats such as chicken, ham and salami will be chock full of nasties.  So what to do?!

First, find bread that is preservative free.  Either hunt down the loaves in your supermarket or local bakery and confirm they are preservative free (and additive free) by reading the label and asking the staff (click here to learn more about reading labels).  Your other option is to eat only organic bread, or make your own at home.  Click here for tips on making your own gluten free bread at home.

As for the cheese, it is again best to go organic to ensure you have no nasties in your cheese, otherwise, check labels to ensure your cheese is preservative free.  Usually, grated cheese and some sliced cheeses will contain preservatives, so stick to block cheese (but still check labels!).

To avoid additives in your butter or margarine, stick to pure butter or check labels for spreadable varieties – there are a select few with no additives or preservatives.

Finally, the ham.  Unfortunately, ham is very difficult to find additive free without going organic.  Even then, you have to check there are no preservatives used.  If you cannot source additive and preservative free ham, make a switch to a different sandwich filling, such as salad, tahini, hummus, homemade grilled chicken or leftover roast meat.


Substituting additive-laden lunch box foods can be easy with a little imagination and forward planning.  With only a few days before school starts back, now is the time to make these delicious replacements to keep your kids additive free, healthy and happy this school term!

For more healthy snack ideas to fill your kids lunch boxes, head to The Food Werewolf Recipes page – the snacks section has a few yummy recipes to help keep your kids school lunches additive free.  You can also head to The Food Werewolf Pinterest board for more ideas by clicking here .

Looking for additive free foods when you’re shopping can be a chore…  To help you out, I am developing a database that will give your quick easy access to hundreds of additive free products without having to read labels or search the shops.  Stay tuned for more information on it’s development and keep an eye out on The Food Werewolf Facebook page and Database page to be the first to know of it’s release!

Happy additive free lunch box filling!

Loren x