As everyone is heading back to school, we know our kids are going to need energy to get through the day. Enter snacks. But snacking can also be hard, right? Between battling with toddlers and preschoolers to teens going through phases, sometimes the snack situation is not ideal. We know they need them to ward off the hangry meltdowns, but what can we do as parents to ensure we are providing nutrition in addition to just energy?
I’ve got some tips for you to boost your kids nutrition and some ideas to freshen up your routine, so keep reading. Most of my snack ideas are pretty basic, but will also include links for those who want options for snacks to make ahead of time plus some recommendations for packaged snacks for the crazy and on-the-go times.
It’s All About Balance
When thinking about snacks for kids, the first thing I think about is balance, meaning are they eating from 2 or 3 different food groups to get a mix of nutrients? Fruit and vegetables for vitamins, minerals and fiber, grains or starchy foods for energy, protein for growth and sustained energy. Calcium-rich foods and fats are a nice to have, adding nutrients for growth and development and more sustained energy, respectively.
I created this snack builder to more easily help families create balanced snacks for their kids that allow them to pick and choose what best meets their wants and needs. The idea is that you should build a snack with at least 2 groups. So you can choose fruit + crackers and/or yogurt, for example. I think snacks are a great opportunity to provide fruit and vegetables for kids due to their high amounts of nutrients, which is why I set it up with choosing 1-2 from that group. If it's easier and more realistic to get fruits and veggies in at mealtimes, that's ok too.
You can print this document here
Need some inspiration? Here's some easy snack parings to promote good nutrition and balance for your kids. Some of these are great to pack to take to school, and others may be good options for when they walk in the door after a long day.
- Apples and peanut butter
- Carrots + whole grain crackers + hummus
- Grapes + pretzels + nuts
- Mandarins + rice cakes with peanut butter
- Mini bagel with cream cheese + cucumbers
- Dried fruit + nuts
- Small quesadilla + bell peppers
- Yogurt + granola + berries
- Cereal with milk + peaches
- Smoothies made with fruit, greens and yogurt
Other great options if you have the time, are mini muffins, energy balls and granola bars made ahead of time. Then you can often refrigerate or freeze them, taking them out as needed.
There's some great ideas and recipes in this blog post from Family Food on the Table: 29 Healthy Snacks On-the-Go
Sarah Remmer also has lots of good Energy Ball Recipes
Or try making these Homemade Granola Bars from Love & Lemons
Great On-The-Go Options
Maybe a veggie try with dips and fresh fruit may not be the easiest options if you are traveling or running errands with your kids. You may want a few things to keep in your bag for those times or you may want to stay always prepared with snacks on hand. So packaged foods it is! Here's a list of some of my favs:
- Individually packaged popcorn from Skinny Pop or Lesser Evil
- Granola bars: Made Good, Kind, Perfect Bar and Cerebelly
- Fruit leathers: That's It Bars
- Individually packaged trail mix
- Jerky or meat sticks like Chomps and Snack Mates
- Harvest Snaps
I hope this gives you some new snacking ideas that also will provide your kids with much needed nutrition throughout the day!