As a parent, what to pack for a snack ranks right up there with what to pack for lunch. You want it to be healthy, but you’re bored with the same old mini tub of applesauce. (And, by the way, so are they!)

Take heart, there are lots of healthy options, some premade and some that you can whip up yourself. Here is a sampling of some helathy store-bought suggestions and some easy recipes for you (and perhaps your kids) to whip up.

Young Children

This age is a beautiful window of time when you are the only one establishing eating habits for your child; they also have the least preferences developed concerning taste. They don’t have peers to compare snacks with, so jump on the opportunity to build your child’s affinity for peas! This is a good time establish a foundation for healthy snacking.

Of course, never force anything on your child, and if they do refuse a snack, try to find an alternate snack in the same family. Maybe you’ll find that your little one hates carrots, but likes sweet potatoes. Nutritionists recommend that you introduce vegetables first and then fruit since the urge for sweets can be strong in this age group.

Distracting them by offering some say over what they eat is an excellent diversion. As they get older, allowing a choice between healthy snacks is an empowering activity for little ones in this age range.

Also, try your best not to use sweets as encouragement for good behavior. Your praise and love are more than enough.

Here is a short list of inspiration for healthy snacks that you can grab from the grocery store and get going with your week with peace of mind

Packaged Snack Ideas

  • Wholegrain crackers or cereal
  • Juice pouches (trust me, they have tons of healthy options nowadays)
  • Veggie or fruit squeeze pouches
  • Cheese
  • Cucumbers slices
  • Sweet potato cubes

If you are interested in taking on a kitchen adventure, a kid-friendly homemade option is guacamole toast. You can do the traditional simple version we all know and love or feel free try to this jazzed-up version of this classic.

Elementary-Age Children

This is a prime growing phase for kids, who around age 7 will start getting their first growth spurts. These guys are verbal now and itching to exercise their newfound autonomy and develop their personality.

After-school snacks need to tie them over to dinner and get them through the hour or so of homework they may have. So if you’re looking to stock up on options for proper brain fuel for your school-age kiddos, we have some ideas for you!

Homemade energy bars or peanut butter toast are perfect after-school options. Introducing your kids to cooking early with no-bake versions of snacks is a great way to bond with them and begin teaching them skills. Incorporate a snack prep time into your routine, even if it is just one weekend a month.

Here’s a recipe for Carrot Cake Bites for those who want to be healthy, but still have a bit of a sweet tooth. Or for when life gets in the way, and it will, here are some easy snacks for after school to help get them through homework.

  • Fruit
  • Nuts/Seeds
  • Veggies
  • Dark Chocolate

Middle Schoolers

These guys are very independent in the food department. While it is tempting to start letting them have the treats that all their friends have, resist. Since they are going to be able to fix their snacks and make their own food choices, it’s less about having things prepped and more about making sure that healthy snacks are readily available. So, staying consistent in maintaining the family pantry as health-conscious as you can is the best way to keep your kids after-school snack time nutritious.

Homemade trail mix is a great way to have something quick and easy on hand throughout the entire week that also helps your child get the nutrition they need. If you need some inspiration for trail mix recipes, feel free to check out Babyfoode, a blog about kid nutrition and education, for some great ideas. Here some other homemade trail mix recipes to try:

  • Sunshine Gorp
  • Tropical Twist
  • PB&J Trail Mix

But, of course, if you don’t have time for whipping those up, here are some easy, kid-friendly after-school snack ideas that you can grab at the grocery store:

  • Dried fruits
  • Prepared trail mix
  • Granola bars
  • Air-popped popcorn
  • Cheese

High Schoolers

With high schoolers, you have less control over what they eat and when they eat. After all, this age group has a great deal of autonomy as they make their way into adulthood.

On the nutrition end of things, since kids are still growing often up until (and sometimes after) graduation, you want to offer snacks to that will reinforce the good eating habits you’ve worked so hard to instill.

Having regular feedings will keep them from getting so hungry that they overeat at mealtime simply because they’ve gone too long without a snack. As their schedules get more hectic, the best strategy at this stage is to ensure that the home pantry stays stocked with healthy options:

  • Fruit salad
  • Roasted veggies
  • Tuna, sardines or hard-boiled eggs
  • Snack sandwiches or wraps
  • Peanut butter or other nut butters with celery for dipping
  • Hummus with wholegrain crackers

Here are a couple of homemade options:

Pro-Tip For Encouraging Water Consumption

As we move from the milk and juice phase, you want to get your kids in the habit of drinking water. A great way to spice it up and make water enjoyable (and, yes, that is possible) is letting fresh fruit soak in the water and impart some of its goodness.

And if you don’t have the time for the prep, grab some of your favorite fruit tea bags and fill up a pitcher and let them soak overnight. Things with a citrus base do best because they are easiest to taste.

The Endgame

With a little bit of planning, snacking can be fun and healthy for your children. And, healthy food is one of the best things you can provide to help them do well in school and during after-school activities. After all, isn’t that the goal?

Nothing fuels the fire for math than discovering you can be a math genius! If you’re not sure Abacus will help your child, sign up for a free preview of our class – there’s no obligation to register! Come meet with us, watch some kids in action, calculating at the speed of light! We guarantee you will have fun watching these little geniuses.

About JAMS

JAMS is proud to be the only Abacus math school in Portland and in the State of Oregon certified by the League of Soroban of Americas. Since 2001, we have dedicated to Abacus & Anzan instruction and to building a strong foundation of Mental Mathematics along with lifelong skills. JAMS empowers children to achieve academic success, so they will grow in areas that go well beyond the classroom. JAMS parents can expect their child to improve in 5 different areas: concentration, discipline, problem-solving, time management, and confidence.  This is the teaching approach at JAMS since opening its doors.