How many of you have loved ones that are far away? How many of you have loved ones in the military and/or overseas? How many of you believe that FOOD is the best way to express your love? Yes, yes, and yes? Me too.
Since most of my loved ones practice paleo/primal eating habits, my care packages are tailored for their needs. If you’ve read my blog before, you know that I am not, so it makes it a little bit of a challenge since I am not as nearly in tune with paleo/primal dietary restrictions. Plus, there are some things that are just SO good and worth breaking the rules just a little bit.
The most important thing that I do is READ the entire label and check the expiration date. Things that don’t expire until 2030 are OUT and things that expire within the next 6 months are out also. Often times these overseas care packages take over a month to find their destination, so I want to be sure the food lasts long enough.
After I read the entire package, I run through this little list. I try to purchase things that are a perfect fit, but it’s tough. I will purchase things that have the majority of these factors, but if the product only has ONE factor, I’m more hesitant to include it. Okay. Here’s my list:
- Made, manufactured, and sourced in the USA. I also try to support smaller companies over conglomerates
- Sustainably sourced
- No added sugar (If the product MUST have sugar, I look for coconut sugar sweetened, agave, or something less toxic that corn syrup)
- Only intelligible ingredients (if I don’t recognize the 24 character word, I put it back)
- Gluten Free (I’m most on watch for wheat products)
- Healthful oils and fats
- Fiber content (I’m told that a little fiber is super helpful since many of the armed forces are stuck eating dense baked goods that don’t pass too well… and on that note, I think my list is done)
Occasionally some corn products slip into the boxes, but wheat almost never makes the list. For some reason, I find corn more forgivable than wheat (which may not be your preference). I vary my boxes each time I send them, so this is only ONE of the many boxes I send. I’ll try to post the others as I send them to give you more ideas. As always, I used a USPS Large Square Flat-Rate Box. The box ships to any US address or FPO for $13.95 and for up to 20 pounds.
Alright? Ready? (Also. Please excuse the dark, middle of the night kitchen photos. I was trying to pack this all up and write a card before 11:00pm, but I guess that’s not happening!)
- Tanka Bars – These are Buffalo meat and cranberry bars. They’re good, filling, and come in a variety of different flavors. I packed a “HOT” one for fun. They come in the long whip or a bar. (For the skinny ones, $2/each. Bars, $2.89/each)
- TrueBar in Cranberry Almond and Hazelnut Chocolate – I haven’t tried these yet, but the ingredients were clean and it’s made in the USA. ($1.69/each)
- Coconut Secret – Mint Coconut Bar – This is amazing. It’s minty and coconutty all at the same time. It’s really yummy and a good dessert. (Dammit… now I want one) ($2.89/each)
- Artisana Nut Butters in Blue Algae and Phyto Plankton – I’m told that these are amazing despite their very strange physical appearance. I haven’t tried them, but I trust the reviewer. ($2.00-$3.00/each – I think the Phyto Plankton was 75 cents more)
- Inca Corn and Inca Chips – I know… I know… corn. However, the plantain chips are paleo! Both of these are crunchy, salty, and delicious. They are on the cleaner sider. The corn is non-GMO and the plantains are gluten free. ($1.49/each on sale)
- Bear and Wolf Pink Salmon – I purchased this at Costco so I’m not sure the pricing. This salmon is pretty good for canned, and the cans are one serving size, which I think is good.
- Bakery on Main Gluten Free Granola in Extreme Fruit and Nut – Also derived from corn products (since there is no oatmeal or wheat). I haven’t tried this before, but it looks promising. It is filled with delicious looking dried fruit and plenty of nuts. ($5.99/each)
- Peeled Dried Apricots and NOW Dried Mango – Just dried fruit. No sulfates or other nastiness, but again, I haven’t tried these two varieties so hopefully they are yummy! (Apricots, $3.99/each. Mangos, $5.49/each)
- Seeds of Change Brown Rice and Quinoa – For a little variety, some precooked rice and quinoa. These packets aren’t particularly delicious. They are just plain Jane, but they heat up in the packet in the microwave or on the stove top in less than 5 minutes. For people on the go, I think this is a good option. Definitely needs some protein or flavoring, but it’ll do the trick. I bought these at Costco also, but I think it works out to about $1 a packet.
- Traditional Medicinals Organic Peppermint Tea – This brand of tea is consistently good, so I snapped this one. ($3.99/each)
- Gingerbon - Seriously. No words. Chewy. Gingery. Delicious. And made with only 3 ingredients – cane sugar, tapioca, ginger. ($1.00/each)
- Season Sardines in Olive Oil – Sardines! Good protein and calcium for people who don’t have access to vitamin rich food. Plenty of olive oil to keep you full with good fats. I also bought this at Costco, but I think it works out to about $1.50/box).
- Bagged Quinoa – I originally got this HUGE bag of quinoa from my older sister, but then she made the change to be 100% grain free, so I inherited this bag. I’ve been doling it out in 1 cup increments in my care packages, but after the bag is used up I will not be purchasing quinoa unless for very special occasions. More on that decision later (I’m still in the process of doing some research on the quinoa issue). With things that are bagged, I label them with instructions and specific measurements so that whomever receives them won’t have to make the extra step of measuring.
- Harry and David Mixed Nuts – I like to pack one serving size of nuts, but I’m an airhead and forgot to pick up extra packets today. I had this one so I’m adding it to the box, but normally I’d have a variety of toasted hazelnuts and lightly salted macadamia nuts.
- Good Seasonings Italian Dressing – My older sister will be having a fit when she sees this, but I threw in a packet of salad dressing powder. It’s good to adding to quinoa before it’s cooked through, sprinkling on meat before grilling, and adding a little flavor to otherwise rather bland food. In the future, I’ll be sending Penzy’s Spices, but I didn’t have a chance to nip out there, so this commercial (probably GMO and chemical stuffed) packet has been included.
- Finally, my personal favorite!! Chia seeds!! I love these always. I bought a giant bag from Costco for $10 and have been packing 1 cup at a time in my care packages.
So this is my final box: It’s still got some room. I’ll add some samples of cosmetics and other knick knacks before sending it out.
And don’t forget to fill out that awesome Customs Form for things leaving the USA!
I hope this little list helps you pack yummy things for your loved ones!
What do you pack for your loved ones? Any suggestions on things to add or subtract from my box?