I’d love to say that, with all my expertise in the field of healthy living, I’m an expert at healthy snacking for kids: that my son and daughter eat only fresh fruit, cut-up veggie sticks, and everything good-for-them in regular-scheduled intervals between meals. But that’s simply not true: I struggle with snacking ideas and doubt my strategies just as much as the next mom!
So I reached out to my mom network for their advice—and I got some amazing tips. Not that I’m surprised: moms always are full of great ideas!
When it comes to actual snacks, the munchies that made the top of the list for best on-the-go snacks? Already shelled hard-boiled eggs (although a bit messy!), raisins, yogurt, apple slices (with or without peanut butter or peanut-free Sunbutter), string cheese, applesauce packs, clementines, mini carrots, raisin toast, flat pretzel crisps and hummus, and grape tomatoes (for kids over the age of five since they’re a choking hazard).
But I also got some really unique mom-tested snacking ideas, and strategies, that I wanted to share:
My son creates his own trail mix: he’s allowed to put in what he likes—raisins, almonds, cranberries, salty cashews. It’s fun to him, and he loves to eat what he makes. —Jen, mom of one
We make banana butters: Our new favorite thing is slicing a banana and placing a small dollop of peanut butter (or soy butter) in the middle. It looks fun to eat and my son and his friends love it! —Miriam, mom of two
Fun toothpicks* make the snack! There’s nothing better than fruit chunks with fun toothpicks (my son is partial to the swords!). — Keri, mom of two
* Toothpicks are too sharp for kids under the age of four; substitute cut up colored straws.
Simple snacks are easiest! We pretty much stick to pretzels and nuts. Once a week, I assemble five snack bags and put them in the glove box* of the car. That way I have something if I forget a snack.
— Jeanne, mom of one
*This won’t work with anything truly perishable as the glove box gets really hot, particularly during summer months!
I make healthy “chips”: I stay away from packaged snacks and make roasted kale chips instead. Heat oven to 375°F, clean and strip kale stalks, lightly add olive oil and salt, cook until crispy. My kids love these!
— Danielle, mom of two (with another on the way)
Cut out sandwich shapes: I make hummus sandwiches (just bread and hummus). My kids don’t eat the crust, so I cut the bread into cool shapes with cookie cutters. —Heather, mom of three
Try a healthy dip: In a blender, mix together goat cheese, Greek yogurt (equal parts yogurt and goat cheese), a little olive oil, and fresh mint, chives and rosemary. Refrigerate for 2 hours (tastes much better after being refrigerated). My kids love to eat it with carrots and pita chips. I make some on the weekend, and then use it all week. —Christina, mom of three
Make-your-own smoothie: smoothies are more exciting when kids get to make their own, so I lay out fruit, yogurt, milk, ice cream, etc, and let them choose the ingredients. If they like it, they write it out on a recipe card so they can make it again. —Rachael, mom of two
Yummy tofu cubes: Grind up cereal, graham crackers, or another simple kid-friendly cereal in a food processer. Pour the mixture into a plastic bag. Place small pieces of tofu in the bag and shake it. The cereal mixture will coat the tofu and give it flavor. Babies love to chew on it…and it makes a great on-the-go snack.
— Paige, mom of two
Healthy Mexican pizzas: I treat snacks like small meals, so one of our favorites is these “pizzas”: I spread a tortilla with fat-free organic refried beans, top with another tortilla, heat in the pan for 5 minutes, and then flip and cook for another 5 minutes. Then I cut them into pizza-like slices. — Hilary, mom of two
Fresh fruit—all day: We constantly have a huge platter of cut-up fruit, either in the fridge or on the table, so my girls can snack on something healthy. They love all fruit and consume a ton of it because we put it in front of them. — Samantha, mom of three
Guacamole is a hit: I make homemade guacamole and cut up tons of veggies to dip in it. My kids love it!
— Anita, mom of three
Can’t-go-wrong granola bars: We keep granola bars stashed in my purse for snack emergencies. They travel well and the whole family likes them. I also sometimes bring extra bags of airline snacks (peanuts, pretzels) with us. — Debbie, mom of two
© Valerie Latona LLC 2012