As a parent, you need to understand the importance of healthy snacks for kids, as well as how to use these 'mini meals' to ensure that they get all the nutrition they need.
With busy lives and budgets to worry about, it can be easy to fall back on pre-packaged snacks for your little ones. Unfortunately, while some truly healthy options do exist, most of these ready-made snacks tend to be full of unnecessary sugars and preservatives. So in this article we present to you 24 healthy snack ideas that are both time and budget-friendly.
Why choosing healthy snacks for kids
Do any of your kids simply refuse to eat another bite during mealtime, only to come running back to you a couple of hours later asking for food? If so, you are not alone! Many kids tend to be erratic and unpredictable with their eating behaviours, leaving them with gaps in their nutrition. This can lead to lack of energy during the day or prevent them from growing as big and strong as they could!
Also, kids need all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients they can get in order to keep their brains revved up and ready to learn. Vitamin deficiencies can limit their ability to absorb, process and remember new information, which is clearly undesirable! Fortunately, you can use snack times throughout the day to help make sure that your kids get all the nutrition they need, and the right way to use them is with healthy snacks for kids.
Healthy snacks for kids: Look at the big picture
A healthy snack is one that fills in the missing pieces of the nutritional puzzle. For example, if your little one only took a couple of bites of his meat during lunch, you may want a protein-based snack. In general, though, snacks should hit the basic food groups and provide protein, fibre, carbohydrates and some healthy fats. Fibre and protein tend to keep kids’ bellies full for a longer period of time. For younger kids, you can aim for about 100 calories. For older, more active kids, you can go as high as 300.
Healthy snack ideas: Mix and match for fun snack time!
Now that you know the basics about healthy snacks for kids, we can finally get to the good part—healthy snack ideas! You can consider the items on this list individually, or mix and match to hit the right calorie content and nutritional balance. We recommend the following healthy snacks for kids:
- Granola bars or oatmeal snacks – try making your own at home!
- Yogurts that are natural or flavoured with real fruits
- Peanut butter with fruit, such as a banana
- Frozen fruits
- A meat and cheese rollup – just wrap a piece of cheese inside a slice of ham or turkey
- Bread spread with cream cheese and marmalade
- A smoothie made of yogurt and fresh fruits – you could even add some protein powder
- Milk or chocolate milk with whole grain, high fibre cookies
- Yogurt-dipped fruit on a stick
- Crunchy pretzels
- Avocado on toast
- A tortilla rollup – you can fill it with cheese, meat or peanut butter, for example
- Trail mix with nuts and dried fruits
- Frozen yogurt with fruit pieces
- String cheese and crackers
- Hard boiled or scrambled eggs
- Homemade fruit chips or fruit chews
- Hummus and pita or pita chips
- Breakfast cereal or oatmeal with milk
- A mini sandwich and a glass of juice or piece of fruit
- Homemade banana bread
- A handful of nuts like almonds, pistachios or walnuts
- Chopped raw vegetables like celery, broccoli or carrots and a dipping sauce
Cow’s milk is one of the most common allergens among kids. Don’t let lactose intolerance prevent your child from enjoying any of the snacks mentioned in this article. You can find numerous milk and cheese substitutes, as well as plenty of lactose-free cheese, yogurt, and milk options.
Providing healthy snacks for kids should be easy and affordable for everyone! It can also be valuable time that you and your children spend together, preparing food and having fun. Making as much as you can from scratch, as well as mixing and matching staple items to make a complete snack, can help on both these fronts!