This for That ~ Turkey & Cheese Lunchable Makeover

My pre-schooler decided she wanted a Dora lunchbox so she could start taking her lunch to school.  She is not a big fan of sandwiches — every time I make her one she takes out the insides and leaves the bread behind.  Since she doesn’t like sandwiches, a Lunchable would be a great idea — just the meat, cheese, some crackers and a dessert.  Unfortunately, the ingredient list on a Lunchable is much more comprehensive than my list, but it doesn’t have to be!

When eating lunch meat, one thing to steer clear of is sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate, which is found in a lot of lunch meats, bacon, sausage, and hot dogs. It is a salt that helps to prevent bacterial cultivation of foods and makes them appear fresh.  It can lead to formation of cancer-causing molecules that can result in tumor formation. Both sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate have been linked to significantly increasing the risk of colon and other forms of cancer, so be sure to choose only uncured meat products made without nitrates, and preferably from grass-fed sources (

Here is the ingredient list for our homemade “lunchable”: Organic Turkey (Organic Turkey, Water, Salt), Organic Cheese (Organic Pasteurized Cultured Whole and Skim Milk, Salt, Enzymes), Sesame Crackers (Organically Grown whole wheat flour stone ground, clover honey, sesame oil, dairy butter, sesame seeds, yeast and salt), Organic Blueberries, Organic Strawberries.


We bought our turkey at the deli at our grocery store. I asked them to cut it a little thicker than I do for sandwiches — it makes it easier to cut it with the shape cutter.  If the deli in your store does not carry organic lunch meats, Applegate farms makes a pre-packaged organic, nitrite free turkey and ham.  The “lunchable” also contains Organic Valley Monterey Jack Cheese and Ak-Mak crackers. The container I used for her lunch is the Rubbermaid Lunch Blox, which fits nicely in her Dora The Explorer lunchbox.  I still have room for her Thermos Funtainer Bottle which I fill with water or milk — I let her choose.  I used Stainless Vegetable Cutter shapes to cut out the cheese and turkey.  When you use these cutters, you will have some scraps; I ate some of the scraps and gave some to our dog, so nothing went to waste.   Lastly, there is a heart toothpick in the fruit, because she likes to use this so her hands don’t get sticky.

This vs. That: Homemade vs. Oscar Meyer:

Drink: Water vs. Water; High Fructose Corn Syrup; Pear and Grape Juice Concentrates; Citric Acid; Water Extracted Orange, Apple and Pineapple Juice Concentrates; Natural Flavor; Vitamin E Acetate.
TurkeyOrganic Turkey, Water, Salt vs. White Turkey; Water; Potassium Lactate, Modified Cornstarch, Contains Less Than 2% of Dextrose, Carrageenan, Salt, Sodium Phosphates, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Diacetate, Flavor, Sodium Ascorabte, Smoke Flavor, Sodium Nitrite, Natural and Artificial Flavor.
Cheese: Organic Pasteurized Cultured Whole and Skim Milk, Salt, Enzymes vs. Part-Skim Milk, Skim Milk, Milkfat, Sodium Citrate, Salt, Cheese Culture, Sorbic Acid as a Preservative, Lactic Acid, Sodium Phosphate, Enzymes, Vitamin A Palmitate, Apocarotenal (Color), With Starch Added For Slice Separation.
CrackersOrganically Grown whole wheat flour stone ground, Clover Honey, Sesame Oil, Dairy Butter, Sesame Seeds, Yeast, Salt vs. Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine MonoNitrate [Vitamin B1], Riboflavin [Vitamin B2], Folic Acid), Whole Grain Wheat Flour, Soybean Oil, Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, Salt, Leavening (Baking Soda and/or Calcium Phosphate), Whey (From Milk), Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavor.
Dessert Organic Blueberries and Strawberries vs. Sugar, Corn Syrup, Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil, Less Than 2% of: Apple Juice From Concentrate, Citric Acid, Tapioca Dextrin Modified Corn Starch, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Colors (Red 40 Lake, Titanium Dioxide, Red 40, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 5, Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 6, Blue 2 Lake, Blue 1, Blue 1 Lake), Sodium Citrate, Carnauba Wax. (This is the ingredient list for Skittles).

** The Ak-Mak crackers I used are not an exact replacement for the crackers in a Lunchable.  My girls like the Ak-Mak crackers, but my son does not.  Another alternative that is closer to the Lunchable cracker are the Late July Classic Rich crackers.  The ingredients in those are: Organic Wheat Flour, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Oleic Safflower Oil and/or Organic Oleic Sunflower Oil, Organic Palm Oil, Sea Salt, Leavening (baking soda, ammonium bicarbonate, cream of tartar), soy lecithin (an emulsifier), enzymes.  These crackers are made without synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or genetic engineering.  They contain no trans fats no hydrogenated oils, no corn syrup, no artificial flavors or colors, no preservatives and no cholesterol.  Here is a picture of the “lunchable” with the Late July crackers.

lunchable 2

~ “Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.” – W.E.B. Du Bois

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