72 Healthy Foods for Care Packages

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Updated 2021

Note: This article is meant for entertainment purposes only. Please consult a dietitian or doctor for specific advice that fits your specific situation.

It’s so tempting to want to send unhealthy food– cookies, candy, you name it. (Guilty as charged!)

When I was sending care packages to John while he was deployed, he specifically requested healthier foods for one simple reason:  healthy foods weren’t rotated often at the DFAC (military cafeteria) and he missed having a variety to choose from. Eating anything over and over again gets pretty boring.

So, I grabbed a shopping cart and a USPS flat-rate box and started shopping for healthy stuff to send over to John.

There were two requirements:

  • it had to be healthy (obviously!)
  • and it had to ship well (which means no chance of molding, getting stale, melting, packaging shattering, leaking, or ripping apart)

And to be honest, I didn’t just want to send John a bunch of granola bars and power bars. I mean. They’re great and everything and can be very tasty (and healthy, too)… but they can also be really boring after awhile.

And when you take those requirements into account while trying to find healthy stuff, it can be a little more challenging.

It’s a good thing I like challenges.

Vary care packages with healthy foods instead of the same snacks and candy. Here's a list of healthy food that are shippable and four care package theme ideas. #collegestudents #missionary #lds #deployment #militaryspouse #militarymail #happymail #missionaries #carepackages #sendmoremail #milspouse #milspouses #milso #milspo #milsos #milspos #militaryfamily #milfam #healthy #healthyideas

I’ve heard the same thing from many of Jo, My Gosh! readers. Whether you’re creating a healthy care package for college students, sending regular supplies to a missionary, or have a military member on a specific health regimen with dietary restrictions, there are delicious, healthy, and mailable options for every palate. Sending healthier foods can be a little tough. After all, you’re not going to throw greek yogurt in a box and ship it across the country.

I put together a list of care package-proof foods that are healthy, suit many different kinds of tastes, and should hold up being sent through the mail with the right packaging and precautions. If your recipient is adhering to a specific diet, make sure that you look at the ingredients of pre-packaged foods for information about fiber, sodium, vitamins, added sugars, minerals, and grams of protein, among other important information.

Sending food in the mail

But before we get started with the list, it’s important to note that sending food in a care package is a little different, especially if you’re sending to a hot area or if you don’t know how long shipping will take.

There are always variables when it comes to shipping depending on the situation your recipient is in and how you’re sending your care package. What works for someone may not work for your situation. You will want to stick to  a few guidelines to make sure that your foods show up safe and consumable for your recipient.

  • Don’t send fresh food. Instead, send dehydrated, freeze-dried, or canned versions.
  • Don’t send foods that your recipient can’t prepare. For example, make sure that, if you’re sending microwaveable foods, they have a microwave available to them. This can be tricky for recipients who are missionaries or in the military. Just check first.
  • If you want to send foods that take a little prep, try to stick to microwavable ones or ones that need just hot water to cook.
  • Watch the temperature. Avoid sending things that can melt in hot months. (And definitely don’t send food that need to stay frozen or refrigerated.)
  • Avoid foods that could leak and ruin the contents of your box or other mail while shipping. If you do have to send something that could leak, take precautions by

Still have questions? Use my guide on how to send food safely in the mail.

Granola bars, power bars, protein bars, and meal replacement bars

Let’s get the easiest category of healthy stuff out of the way, shall we? Granola bars, power bars, and meal replacement bars come as single serving, individually wrapped items that don’t need to be heated or eaten with silverware (or even a napkin). That makes them great grab-and-go options for members of the military, missionaries, and college students. It also makes them easy to share with others, which is always a plus when your care package recipient is living in an area with

Spreads and condiments

There’s so much versatility when it comes to sending food in care packages when you stuff the box full of spreads, condiments, and spices. They add a lot of flavor and can change up the same old, same old that your recipient might be feeling– especially if they eat regularly from a cafeteria or find themselves bored by healthy snack regimens.

Fruits and Veggies

You wouldn’t throw a hand of bananas into a box and ship it halfway across the world, but what about banana chips? Maybe your loved one can’t enjoy fresh peaches, but what about single-serving ones canned in juice or light syrup? There are lots of options for shelf-stable, nutritious real fruit and vegetables chock full of nutrients that you can send across the state or across the world.

Proteins, Nuts, Healthy Fats, and Seeds

Sending shelf-stable proteins in a care package is pretty darn easy. While it might depend on your recipient’s dietary restrictions and workout regimen (if they have one), there are a lot of options to keep it gastronomically interesting and meet nutrition needs.

Snacks and grains

Who doesn’t love a good snack? One of the issues with sending snacks in the mail is that they’re often fragile (think broken chips) and the bags are filled with air, so you’re not sending as much as you can in the box and not getting as much bang for your buck as you could. But snacks mean comfort and fun… and they don’t have to be trail mix! They’re often a great way to improve morale whether your recipient is going through a military deployment or college final exams.


Healthy care package ideas

While you can just take a bunch of healthy stuff, put it in a box and call it a day (and there’s nothing wrong with doing that!) you can also craft some fun care package themes around these tasty treats. Consider these ideas that work for military deployments, missionaries far awayf rom home, or college students:

  • Baby We Were Born to Run: Send a Bruce Springsteen themed care package that also encourages your recipient in their running journey with healthy non-perishable snacks. Whether they’re just getting started, training for a longer race, or are an experienced runner, stuff the box with their favorite training treats, socks, and running-themed gifts.
  • Souper Bowl: This care package theme is perfect in January and Feburary when the actual Super Bowl is happening… but you can always send soups, crackers, and other accompaniments whenever you want!
  •  F-Words: Send a lot of tuna fish packets, fruit leather, fruit cups, and dried fruit to your recipient with a cheeky F-words box. Don’t tell them what it stands for… see if they can figure it out!
  • Honey : Send a little honey to your honey with a sweet honey and bee-themed care package. There are tons of honey-flavored foods that are mailable… but you can also send foods in yellow packages and teas to round out the box.

Looking For More Care Package Ideas? Try These:

17 Responses

  1. Any tips for mailing chocolate? I’m sending my first care package and concerned about sending clif bars that have chocolate due to the extreme heat in summer. Thanks!

    1. If there’s not too much chocolate in them, you should be good. Usually small bits of chocolate will just melt and resolidify. I’d avoid sending things that are made of a lot of chocolate. Also, since they’re Clif Bars, are you sure it’s actual chocolate? It might be a derivative that might have a much higher melting point.

  2. Awesome! Very helpful care package list. Thank you so much for sharing these ideas!

  3. Great list. Thank you for posting this. Now I have an idea what to mix and match food for the kids.

  4. Hi there! I discovered from your website that Starkist would send tuna to troops deployed overseas. I contacted them and within 2 weeks, my husband received his onbard his ship! Thank you so much for sharing. He’s trying to eat healthier and doing so isn’t not terribly easy onboard. I thought this might make for an easy quick snack or addition to salad or bread.

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  6. Thank you. Our son just joined the Air Force as is finally at tech school. We can send care packages, but wanted to avoid junk foods and sugary snacks. This list is fatalistic and now I have lots of ideas that he can share with his buddies.

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