The school year is well under way and with that comes the daily task of packing a lunch for your eager little learner. With all the responsibilities most parents face every day — a long commute, a career, helping kids with homework, volunteering and endless errands, it’s no wonder parents are giving in to the whole concept of prepackaged and unhealthy snacks for their children.
Sure there are many convenience products out there that make packing your child’s lunch a snap, but these products are almost always loaded with extra sodium, fat and calories. With a little extra planning, you can make easy-to-prepare snacks that will be both healthy and enjoyable.
If you’re concerned about your child over eating, don’t be. Providing healthy snacks is a better way of combating childhood obesity than discouraging eating between meals. You want to be aware of what your kids are eating making sure they are not starved by the time lunch or dinner rolls around.
Snacks for your child should include a fruit, vegetable, or whole grain, should be high in fiber and contain an adequate amount of protein. Below, you will find ten easy to prepare snack ideas — two for each day of the week.
Healthy Snack Recipes for School
- Yogurt mix: ½ cup of low fat vanilla yogurt with ¼ cup of high fiber cereal (my kids like the Trader Joe’s brand) top with freshly cut strawberries. Pack the cereal separately so it doesn’t get soggy. Your child can mix it in with the yogurt right before eating.
- Banana dip: Dip one large banana in a ½ cup of whole grain Cheerios. Kids really get a kick out of this snack because the Cheerios stick to the banana. Make it a game — how many Cheerios can you stick onto the banana? Pack an eight ounce glass of cold milk or soy milk to go with this snack (for protein).
- Layered rice cake: Spread two tbsp peanut or almond butter over one rice cake, and then top with blueberries.
- Fleas on a stick: Cut celery sticks four-inches lengthwise, spread one tsp cream cheese on top of celery and sprinkle one tsp of chia seeds. Chia seeds can be found at your local grocery store or natural foods store.
- Trail mix: An all-time favorite, trail mix is easy to prepare at home. In a large bowl add nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews) add dried fruit (apricots, cranberries, raisins), add your child’s favorite cereal, and for an extra kick throw in some chocolate chips.
- Hummus and veggies: ¼ cup of baby carrots and a ¼ cup of celery dipped in ½ cup hummus make an easy, refreshing snack.
- Bean wrap: Spread two tbsp of black bean dip on a whole wheat tortilla. Sprinkle a little jack cheese or cheddar cheese before rolling up the tortilla. Can be served cold.
- Peanut butter cake: Cut a whole wheat English muffin in half and spread two tbsp almond butter on the muffin. Top with sliced bananas. If your child is a big eater, place the remaining half of the English muffin on top of the bananas and create a sandwich instead of a cake.
- Chunky granola: Mix ¼ cup of low-fat granola with ½ cup of applesauce for a crunchy, sweet treat. I’d recommend packing these items separately and having your child mix it right before eating. Nobody likes mushy granola.
- On-the-go: If you are really in a time crunch and absolutely do not have time to pack a healthy snack in your child’s lunch box, grab a LaraBar. Made with five or more ingredients of fruits, nuts and seeds, these bars are always a hit among children. In fact, I even eat them regularly.
Remember to have fun with these ideas and don’t be afraid to experiment with new foods.
Check out these local grocers for some of the foods mentioned above.
Gilroy, Nob Hill
Los Gatos, Whole Foods