“I’m hungry!” “What can I eat?” If you are a parent you have undoubtedly heard these phrases on a frequent if not daily basis. As a mom of two kiddos and a Registered Dietitian, it’s important to me to have snacks on hand that aren’t just empty calories but rather contribute to a balanced diet.
Snacking is normal and is a great opportunity to fill nutrient voids in a child’s diet. Children typically do not consume enough fruits, vegetables, or whole grains so focus on those foods when preparing snacks. A good rule of thumb is to try and get two food groups in a snack.
Snacks are oftentimes being consumed away from home. Younger children may be required to take a snack with them to school while older children are often involved in after school activities and need an on-the-go snack to fuel them through their activity before dinner.
Being prepared with a list of go-to snack ideas can help ensure that choices are just enough to satisfy their hunger but not ruin their appetite for the next meal. Here are a few kid-friendly snack ideas for the next time you hear “I’m Hungry!”
Make Your Own Snack Mix: Keep a variety of whole grain cereals, dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, mango, apples, etc.), and nuts (peanuts, almonds, etc.) on hand along with snack size re-sealable plastic baggies. Keep the items in an easy-to-reach location so kids can assemble their own portable snack. The snack-size baggies will help with portion control.
Hummus with pita chips and sliced veggies: Baby carrots, celery sticks, bell pepper strips, or cucumber slices are great dipping options, too.
Whole grain cracker “sandwich”
Homemade whole grain muffins
When taking snacks on the go, be sure to keep cold items cold by placing them in a cooler with ice packs. It’s also a good idea to check and make sure other children do not have food allergies when sending snacks to schools. Many schools do not allow nut products so just be aware of your school’s policies!