Reviews: Back-to-School Lunch Box Helpers

by Cate on September 5, 2013

One of the fun perks of blogging is that we frequently get surprise boxes on our doorstep of new items to review. And most of the time, it’s items we might not have ever discovered on our own. And in an effort to clear off my desk top, and since many are perfect for back-to-school lunch boxes, we’re going to review a bunch in one fell swoop. Get ready.

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First up is this line of Harvest Snaps from Calbee. The company is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, and although they have been around for over 60 years, they originally didn’t start manufacturing shrimp chips and saya in North America until the early 70s. Then, in the late 90s, still with a concentrated effort on healthy living, they started this line of crisps. And oh man, these crisps. Go get yourself some. Gluten-free, less fat and sodium than its counterparts (and, likewise, more fiber, protein, and Vitamin B), they are a light, healthy snack that is perfect to tuck into little lunch boxes. Ok, and big lunch boxes too. Six different subtly flavored varieties, they are light, crispy, and addicting enough that I found myself coming back for more and more. Although I haven’t seen them yet in retail locations, I also haven’t been looking, because they are definitely readily available in a variety of places. The snapea crisps were my favorite – go get ‘em.

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Next up is this line of tortilla chips and dippers from RW Garcia. When it comes to snacking, Nick is a sucker for tortilla chips, so he was all over these. We had a little taste testing of the four different varieties we received. His favorite was the sweet and spicy Mixt bag, followed closely by the blue and corn tortilla chips and the cheddar dippers. A family owned business that has been around for over thirty years, it was born from a passion of making a healthy crispy snack that has all natural ingredients. The chips are sturdier than the competitors, and easily stand up to salsa dipping, and more substantial dips like a con queso. Nick asked me to put them away because he couldn’t stay away from them.

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I received this sample of Stretch Island Fruit Chews in my swag bag during my Food Blogger Forum trip to Orlando in June. I have purchased the fruit strips (or more commonly referred to as fruit leather) for the kids before, so I am very familiar with the brand. The kids love the fruit strips, but they didn’t love these chews. They described it as a texture issue, and said that the fruit snacks we usually have contain a better chew, and these pieces felt “flakier” to them. Their chew and strip products are 100% natural, contain no added sugar, no additives, and I happen to love the company and how socially conscious they are. We’ll just stick to the strips, as the kids love them more.

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When I was pregnant with Nick, for the first few months, I subsisted on two things. Sweet potatoes from Boston Market, and a buttered cracker with a thin slice of Cheddar on it. All the days. Which may or may not explain Nick’s penchant for crackers. If I leave the kids alone with Wheat Thins, Cheez-Its, Ritz, or even Saltine crackers, I can come back to an empty box. And that’s without them putting butter or cheese on it. They just love crackers. So you can probably guess that the O’Malley clan as a whole was stoked to receive this box full of crackers on our doorstep. Blue Diamond, and their delicious smokehouse almonds, is very familiar to us, but this Nut-Thins line is new to us (and gluten-free). Thin, crispy, and downright awesome (eight flavors!), these are going to be perfect in the kids’ lunch boxes with a few slices of Cabot cheddar. Yes, please.

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I’ve got to say, when I see the “c is for cereal,” I immediately think of Cookie Monster’s “c is for cookie” jingle and expect to see a picture of him on the box. But, of course, this is not that. Close, but not quite. And, now that I’ve looked up more brand information, Cookie Monster is actually pictured on the banana version of this cereal. All is instantly right with the world. Madeline is my cereal kid. Although she vacillates between cereal, mini waffles, or a bagel, more often than not, it’s cereal, cereal, cereal, for days. Repeat. I love that this is whole grain cereal and very low, comparably speaking, in sugar. It is packed with vitamins, and is a simple, not over-the-top cereal. Although it took Madeline a bit to warm up to the cereal (she was in a rut), she does love it now. Although perfect for a quick and easy breakfast, it’s also great as a snack when put in little sealable containers. They can munch on it on the way to school or at snack time.

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And lastly, this water bottle. Years and years ago, I used to use disposable cups. For everything. And then I got smart. And got pretty focused on waste. And nixed mostly everything disposable (no more disposable plates, cups, or paper napkins) in our home. I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner. Although it sometimes takes me forever to come around to a new idea, once I convert, I am completely committed thereafter. I consider this a good thing. So because we don’t use disposable cups (or plastic water bottles), it means we use a lot of reusable water bottles. In fact, we recently relocated our stash into this new amazing dresser I bought for a song, and we counted. Nine. Ten, with this new addition. While that might seem like a lot, with three of us using them, and with the kids’ bottles not always coming home the same day they take them, well, sometimes it’s not enough. And with our water bottle usage, I am very picky about which ones we use. They have to be BPA-free, for starters. And completely leak- and spill-proof. Durable. No wide-mouth or large openings to drink from. They have to be dishwasher safe. Easy for little fingers to open and close. And this one from Camelbak? Is all that. And as soon as it arrived, Nick claimed it as his own. I don’t blame him.

I would like to say this cleared off everything on my desk. It didn’t. But it made a serious dent. So many awesome new products, do keep an eye out for them. And with only one item that we weren’t head over heels for, I’d say that’s some pretty good statistics.

*Although this is NOT a sponsored post, we were generously given the above items. Two of the links above are affiliate links to Amazon, which just means that should you happen to purchase something, I make a few pennies. Disclosure? Yep, covered.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Joanne September 6, 2013 at 6:27 am

I love those snapea crisps! Pretty cool to see that they have flavors now!

Also that water bottle is my ultimate favorite. The.Best.
Joanne recently posted..Banana Bread Brownies {the leftovers club}

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