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As a mom of two little ones, I often feel like I spend just as much time planning healthy meals for them as I do snacks. One kid has a morning snack and the other has an afternoon snack. One will eat just about anything I pack, while the other often comes home with her snack untouched. Whether yours are in daycare, preschool or elementary school, packing snacks is an everyday chore and chances are, finding healthy snacks for kids is something that’s top of mind for you too.
Although we can all aspire to those creative, healthy snack ideas on Pinterest, most of us are too time-strapped to make that a reality. Fortunately, you don’t have to resort to Goldfish or other processed snacks.
There are healthy snacks for kids that will satisfy their hunger, help them stay focused at school, and give them plenty of energy until they get home. Even better— they only take minutes to pull together. Here are 10 ideas to try.
If you’ve tried to pack vegetables as a snack for school, chances are, they came right back home.
Like I said, I have the same issue with one of my daughters but I continue to offer them. Why? Because the The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says snacks are not only an opportunity to support your child’s diet, but they can make it even healthier.
Besides, most kids don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables every day to begin with so offering snacks is a great way to take advantage of their hunger and get these foods into their diets.
Snacks also help kids learn what they like to eat—and what they don’t—and can encourage them to become adventurous eaters.
Some school-friendly veggie options include:
- Artichoke hearts
- Asparagus (cooked)
- Baby carrots
- Belgian endive (add some feta cheese or a peanut butter)
- Green beans (cooked)
- Parsnip “fries”
- Purred pumpkin
- Sliced bell peppers
- Sugar snap peas
- Zucchini “sticks”
Fruit is usually kid-friendly and among some of the best healthy snacks for kids at school.
Fresh or frozen, you can pack washed, whole fruit, or pack cut-up fruit in individual glass containers.
Some of the best fruits to pack for school include:
- Star fruit
Popcorn is a great snack option at school because it’s so easy to pack in a lunch box or snack bag.
Unliked refined carbohydrates, whole grain carbohydrates like those in popcorn have fiber which stave off hunger and keep blood sugar levels steady.
You can make your own popcorn at home or buy it pre-portioned, but read labels carefully to avoid large amounts of sodium and trans fat as well as artificial ingredients.
SkinnyPop is one of my favorite brands because it’s non-GMO, trans-fat free and low in sodium.
When you’re looking for healthy snacks for kids, hummus is a great choice.
A 100-gram serving has 6 grams of fiber and nearly 8 grams of protein, plus the healthy fats kids need in their diets.
If your child has a sesame allergy, you can make your own (here’s a recipe).
Hummus pairs well with whole grain crackers, mini pitas, or vegetables like sliced peppers, celery and carrots.
Avocado is one of the best foods you can feed your kids. With 20 vitamins and minerals including vitamins B5, B6, C, E, K, folate and potassium, they’ll get a ton of nutrition without a lot of calories.
Avocado is also an excellent source of healthy fats and a good source of fiber. They also have lutein and zeaxanthin, which are carotenoids or plant pigments, found in the eyes that can improve memory and processing speed, one study found.
Homemade guacamole is delicious and has a great texture but if you decide to buy it off the shelf, read labels because many store-bought options have artificial ingredients.
Pair guacamole with whole grain tortilla chips, cut-up veggies or serve it alone— either way, it’s sure to be a snack your kids will love.
6. UNSWEETENED APPLESAUCE
Cups or squeezable pouches of unsweetened applesauce can make for an easy and healthy snack any time of day.
High in protein and a good source of calcium, cheese is one of the best healthy snacks for kids at school.
Cheese is easy enough alone, but if you’re looking to add more nutrition and variety, pair it with fruit.
Some yummy combinations to try include:
- Tomatoes and mozzarella
- Figs and brie
- Watermelon and feta
- Pear and blue cheese
- Apple and cheddar
Yogurt is usually a kid-favorite and an easy school snack.
High in protein, a great source of calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamin B12, yogurt is also rich in gut-friendly, immune-boosting probiotics.
When you look for yogurt however, read labels and stick with brands that are low in sugar and made without artificial ingredients and preservatives.
With 17 grams of protein per serving, plain Greek yogurt is a great option. Add raspberries which are high in fiber, and a dash of cinnamon and pure vanilla extract for extra flavor.
8. TRAIL MIX
Nuts and seeds are high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats which makes trail mix an easy and healthy snack for school.
Since many store-bought trail mixes are filled with salty nuts, loads of dried fruit, “yogurt-” covered raisins, chocolate chips and candy however, be choosy when looking at the different options.
If you want to have control of the ingredients, make your own: pick the nuts and seeds and use unsweetened dried fruit. If you’re going to add chocolate, stick to dark chocolate, which has antioxidants and just the right amount of sweetness without too much sugar.
9. HEALTHY SNACK BARS
Stocking your pantry with healthy snack bars can ensure you always have something on hand for school.
When buying a healthy snack bar, look for those that use whole food ingredients, have a good amount of protein and fiber, and are low in sugar and sodium.
Also, consider whether your kid is eating it with lunch or as a snack, because depending on the calories, it can easily turn into another meal.
An excellent source of protein, fiber, iron and magnesium, edamame (soybeans) are also high in calcium and make for a healthy school snack.
You can purchase edamame fresh or frozen, but look for those that are already shelled to save time.