“Mo-om! Can I have a snack?” It’s like the anthem of kid-dom. It seems like most kids I know would rather snack all day than eat any real meals. Actually, I know some adults who feel the same way. Some parenting resources say you should never let your kids snack between meals, it ruins their appetite. However, others say that offering the right kinds of snacks at the right times can play an important role in managing kids’ hunger and boosting nutrition.[i] Kids have a higher metabolism and a smaller stomach, so they need food more often. The important thing is keeping snacks under control—not letting kids just graze all day—and making sure the snacks you offer are healthy.
For those of us who always seem to be on the go, that can be a much harder task than it seems. We think a lot of healthier foods are harder to keep fresh in the car, or they’re just too much prep work. It’s so much easier to just grab a bag of chips, a candy bar, or a sugary fruit snack. If you’re out and about, it’s fast and cheap to pick up some fries and a soda or an ice cream cone from a fast food place.
We are here to encourage parents everywhere. You can find healthy snacks for kids on the go. Our list contains:
Celery & Peanut Butter. Or Hummus if you’re worried about allergies. Celery and peanut butter is low in sugar, low in carbs, and high in good fats and protein. Sure, it takes a minute to wash and cut up the celery, but that’s it. You can even do that in advance and throw some in snack-sized bags so they’re ready to just grab out of the fridge. You can buy peanut butter or hummus in individual snack-sized packages or you can just scoop some into a Tupperware so the kids can have fun dipping.
String Cheese. This is probably the lowest maintenance item on our list because it’s prepackaged and can travel easily in the car without having to be in a cooler or anything. String cheese is low in calories and high in protein and calcium. There is very little processing that goes into it. It really is just regular cheese, just in an individual package. And, it’s pretty cheap as far as snack foods go!
Raisins or Craisins. Raisins have no added sugar. Craisins have a little bit of added sugar, but because they are naturally lower in sugar, they have less sugar overall. Both are low in carbs and high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals like potassium. Because they’re dried fruit, they have a great shelf life and are super portable. You can even buy them in snack-size portions for kids.
Hard-boiled Eggs. Hard-boiled eggs may take a little bit longer to prep than just cutting up celery, but you can boil a whole bunch at a time and then keep them in the fridge. Then pull some out whenever you need them. Hard-boiled eggs are low in calories and super high in protein. They actually contain a complete protein, which is highly absorbable and has all the amino acids humans need. And they really fill you up. So if you give a kid a hard-boiled egg, you may not hear that “Mo-om! I’m hun-gry!” anthem again until dinner. Just remember to peel them before you give them to the kids or that could get interesting.
Apples. You just can’t beat a good old-fashioned apple. It’s always my go-to with my kids. An apple a day keeps the doctor away because apples are high in antioxidants, flavonoids, and dietary fiber. Some even call it the “miracle food” because it’s been linked to reducing the risk of cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. My doctor also told me while I was pregnant that apples are a great substitute for coffee for waking you up in the morning. Bonus, kids love them! If you want to cut them up for the kids but want to keep them from browning, cut the apple while submerged in water and then put in a Ziploc bag with the air pressed out.
Energy Balls. These are the only ones on our list that really require much prep work, but they don’t take that long and you can make a batch of them once and have them for a quick grab out of the fridge the rest of the week. Of course, how healthy they are depends on how you make them, but homemade energy balls are typically filled with protein, fiber, and nutrients without any of the extra sugar, salt, or chemicals you would get from a granola bar, protein bar, or breakfast bar you can buy at the store. For an easy recipe from a holistic child psychologist, go to drbeurkens.com.
I know it feels easier to just buy a huge box of snacks from Costco or Sam’s to keep in the pantry. If you do that, just make sure to get things like these applesauce packets with no added sugar or popcorn with minimal salt added. Minno is here to encourage parents that with just a little bit of prep work, you can give your kids a healthy alternative to those heavily processed, prepackaged snacks. Even when you’re running off to the next soccer game.