photo by Abhijit Tembhekar

photo by Abhijit Tembhekar

Ah, those convenient little servings of fruit and applesauce…already diced, pre-portioned, shrink-wrapped, swimming in a sweet syrup, where they keep indefinitely…

Unfortunately, those perfect little servings of fruit are not so perfect after all.

  • They often contain high fructose corn syrup, turning what I believed to be a healthy serving of fruit into a dessert. When I began reading labels, I found small cans of fruit made with pear juice concentrate instead. I would also look for unsweetened applesauce, ones where the ingredients read simply, “apples, water.”
  • They’re expensive. At local grocery stores, I usually paid around $3 for a package of 4. My two children would finish the package each day, if not each meal.
  • And speaking of package…How much packaging can fruit have? A lot. There’s the outer whiteboard container, which in many communities is not recyclable, followed by a plastic film over the top of each cup. Finally, there’s the plastic cup container, also not recyclable.

Make your own reusable fruit cups

I wanted something more reusable and less expensive.

  • I bought a variety of small plastic containers with lids. They seal tightly enough to put in my son’s lunch. I opted for the inexpensive kind in case they “disappeared.”
  • I buy a large jar of unsweetened applesauce. Buying a large jar is less expensive and it’s recyclable. If you like, you can always add a teaspoon of sugar. Add cinnamon or a small amount of fruit jam for a treat.
  • Try a large container of raisins, or other dried fruit such as cherries or blueberries. Dried fruit is a little more costly, but it keeps well. My son enjoys dried cherries from nearby Door County.
  • Another option is cut up apples or pears tossed with a small amount of lemon juice to keep them from browning. Cut up 3 or 4 at a time and keep in the refrigerator.
  • A portion of grapes works well, as the plastic container keeps them from being crushed. Again, you could prepare several cups at a time and keep them in the refrigerator ready to go.

Of course, fruit in its pure form is always an option. My son usually requested an apple for his lunch. No package needed.

What fruit do you pack for your kids?