As a parent you may find it challenging to provide your children with healthy, tasty and creative snacks during the school year. Time constraints, picky eaters, food budgets and limited ideas are a few barriers you may face during the school year when planning and preparing snacks.
Encourage your children to help you prepare their own snacks and lunches. This will give them ownership of their food choices and help them develop healthy eating habits.1
More: 9 Healthy Bedtime Snacks for Kids
Try one of these quick and easy snacks this school year:
1) Whole-wheat crackers with cheese, peanut butter or hummus. Look for crackers such as Triscuits, Ak-Mak, Rye Krisps or Breton. Choose crackers that contain no partially or fully hydrogenated oil and have at least three grams of fiber per serving.
2) Baby carrots, grape tomatoes, green or red sweet pepper slices or other cut-up vegetables with low-fat dressing or hummus. Add whole-grain crackers, pretzels or pita chips for additional crunch and flavor. This is a colorful and tasty snack packed with fiber and vitamins such as vitamins A and C.
3) Fruit with pretzels (e.g. Snyder's of Hanover whole grain varieties, Utz, Nature’s Promise) a granola bar (e.g. Nature Valley, Kashi, or Full Circle), or whole-grain cereal (e.g. Cheerios, Corn, Rice or Wheat Chex, Kashi Heart-to-Heart Cereal, Barbara’s Bakery Puffins or Shredded Spoonfuls, or Kix). Purchase small, reusable containers for the pretzels or cereal. This will encourage children to take home what they do not finish and teaches them to not waste food.
4) Let kids build their own snacks. Pack celery sticks or pretzel logs, peanut butter or low-fat cream cheese, or even hummus and raisins, and have them make “ants on a log.”
5) Kids love to make crunchy fruit dippers! They’ll need cut-up fruit (e.g. slices of apple, orange, banana, peach, plum, strawberries or grapes) and a container of yogurt. Try low-fat Stonyfield Farm, Dannon All-Natural, Brown Cow or other natural yogurt varieties.
Don’t forget the spoon and fork. Fill a small reusable container or plastic bag with your child’s favorite cereal (e.g. Cheerios, Rice, Wheat or Corn Chex, Grape Nuts, or bran flakes) or try something different such as milled flax seed, wheat germ, low-fat granola, oatmeal or sunflower seeds.
More: How to Create Healthy Eating Habits in Your Family
These suggestions provide not only additional nutrients but also crunch, which most children love. Show children how to spear a piece of fruit with their fork (hands also work well but it can be quite messy), dip it in the yogurt and then dunk it in a crispy topping. This is a delicious and creative snack that the whole family will enjoy.
6) Give your children the ingredients to build their own yogurt and fruit pile-ups. Pack a container of yogurt with berries (look for fresh or frozen blueberries, raspberries or strawberries) and granola or their favorite crunchy cereal in individual, reusable containers. Also, put in a cup and spoon and have them layer the different the yogurt, fruit and granola in their cup or maybe they just want to mix it all together.
The possibilities for snacks are endless! Be creative, ask your children for their input and make preparing snacks a fun activity for you and your children. Use this time together to talk, share stories, solve problems or simply be together.
More: 5 Steps to Eating Healthier as a Family
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