Kids get more than a quarter of their daily calories from snacks. So serving healthy snacks matters a lot! Revisit your snack strategy with these 5 healthy snacking kids that help your kids get good nutrition all day long.
There’s no doubt about it: kids love snacks. And active, growing kids really rely on the nutrition they get during snack time to keep them going.
It’s easy to grab a bag of crackers and a juice box when your kids ask for a snack, but there’s a lot to gain from choosing snacks with intention, in the same way you might plan a meal.
When we do this, we improve the nutrition of the snacks we offer, and we also teach them about healthy habits. Because one day soon they’ll be deciding for themselves what snacks to buy and eat. (If that makes you think,”yikes!” then this post is for you!)
It takes a little planning to serve healthy whole food snacks, but it doesn’t require a major lifestyle overhaul, either. If you keep a few key points in mind, healthy snack offerings can become second nature.
Here are those key points to know:
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Start With Fruit and Veggies
Most kids need more fruits and veggies, and snack time is a perfect time to add those healthy foods.
Fruits and veggies can be quick to serve, and since kids tend to be hungry at snack time (after all, they probably took the time off from play to ask you to eat!) they may be more likely to accept these foods. Here are some quick options:
- carrot sticks with hummus
- celery and peanut butter
- cucumbers with cream cheese
- cherry tomatoes
- half an avocado with lemon juice and salt
- snap peas
- frozen peas and corn (still frozen!)
- a melon slice
Your kids might not be thrilled by the idea of fruits a veggies as snacks. But it pays to keep offering. And if you can, offer them in new ways. When you can spare the time, try cutting them in fun shapes or pairing them with a favorite dip. Try serving leftover roasted veggies during snack time. Having them prepped and ready to go is another way to be sure you don’t cave in and throw them a bag of fruit snacks! (These jars are great for storing your prepped snacks.)
Pack The Protein In Your Snack
Protein helps kids grow and it keeps them feeling full long after snack time. If you’re frustrating by your kids asking for snacks seemingly all day long, try adding a little extra protein to their snacks, to help with satiety. Some easy, snack-friendly proteins include:
- string cheese
- nut butters
- hard boiled eggs
- cottage cheese
- cheese cubes
- sliced turkey, ham, or roast beef, rolled up
Make a Healthy Snack Plan
When you’re digging through the cupboard and the kids are whining, it’s easy to grab some crackers and fruit snacks to make them happy. But if you have a snack plan in place (including WHEN snacks are served and WHAT snacks are served,) it’s a no-brainer to pass out healthy snacks instead.
- Remember to start with fruits and veggies and then add a healthy protein. Whole grains can be part of great snacks too.
- Try keeping a stash of cut up veggies and fruit in the fridge. This is a simple way to allow kids to choose their snack and keep it healthy at the same time.
- Find a system that works for you. One option is allowing kids to choose one item from the fruit and veggie basket and the protein box. Another might be having snacks assigned to certain days; Mondays are string cheese and apple days, Tuesdays are for smoothies, Wednesdays are hard boiled eggs and fresh veggies, and so on. If your kids know what to expect (and you stick to your plan), the complaining goes away and kids enjoy snack time more.
- Follow a meal plan like the Family Fresh Meal Plan that gives you a snack option every day.
Involve Your Kids in The Snack Prep
Nobody likes listening to their kids complain. Thankfully, if we involve them in planning and preparing their snacks, they’re more likely to enjoy and eat what we serve. Give them a few simple guidelines (like, the snack must have a fruit or vegetable in it) and let them be creative and have fun!
Kids love to be involved with the food they eat and it’s a perfect time to help them learn to make good food choices. If you need more ideas on prepping healthy snacks, this article has some great ideas!
Make Snacks Fun and Yummy
If you find that your kids don’t like something you have offered them, try making it in a different way that sparks their sense of fun and imagination.
You don’t have to go all crazy Pinterest perfect to make this work. If they don’t want to eat a plain apple, slice it up, slather with peanut butter and roll in granola, coconut, or chopped nuts. Or dip the apple slices in yogurt and sprinkle with cinnamon.
We have lots more fun and delicious snack ideas in our Snack Category. Enjoy!
I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.Learn More about Natalie