Packing snacks for kids can be, well, tedious and frustrating. While the idea of mixing up their snacks from week to week is appealing, brainstorming new ideas can be exhausting. But if you keep a few healthy staples that are incredibly versatile in your kitchen at all times, coming up with new snack ideas can be simple and fun.
1. Hummus. Packed with protein and fiber, and super tasty, hummus is incredibly versatile. Use it as a dip for veggies or a spread on crackers or toast, and you can be sure that your kids will remain satisfied until dinnertime. Is your child allergic to the sesame seed tahini in store bought hummus? Make your own by pulsing chickpeas, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and cumin in the food processor.
2. Guacamole. This popular Mexican topping is a favorite among little ones, many of whom started solids by sampling avocado along with traditional purees like carrots and apples. You can make your own or buy it premade, but make sure to adjust the spice level to suit your little one’s palate. Like hummus, guacamole can be used as a veggie dip or a spread on multigrain chips or crackers, and its load of vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids can’t be beat.
3. Eggs. Another omega-3 all star, eggs pack protein, vitamins, and antioxidants, and are a perfect way to mix up snack time. Deviled eggs, hard-boiled, or poached egg on toast or a mini frittata is a great way to make sure snack time fills up your child.
4. Whole Wheat Puff Pastry. You can buy the far healthier whole wheat variety of puff pastry in the freezer aisle of whole foods and health food stores, and its versatility make it a kitchen staple. Wrap it around cheddar cheese and broccoli, or tomatoes and mozzarella, and you have a veggie-packed snack that tastes like a treat. Your preschooler may tell you that his friends at school were eyeing his snack with envy!
5. Refrigerated Whole Wheat Pizza Dough. Another favorite that comes in a healthy, whole wheat variety can be stored in the freezer or fridge, and whipped out in order to grill up a few mini pizzas come snack time. Top with whatever you have in the house; tomatoes and mozzarella are a classic choice, but feta with tomatoes, zucchini, or olives, is also delicious.
6. Bananas. Bananas are often referred to as a perfect food, and for good reason. Rich in potassium and antioxidants, bananas’ sweet flavor is popular among young children. Slice them and layer them with peanut butter on toast, bake them into bread, or serve them on their own.
7. Oatmeal. Oatmeal isn’t just for breakfast. While it’s delicious with a bit of cinnamon and steamed apples, it can also be made into snack bars, cookies, and muffins. Its iron content and dietary fiber make it healthy and great for kids on the go.
8. Tomatoes. Stuff them with cheese. Halve grape tomatoes and make a side salad. Dip them in hummus or guacamole, as we suggested above, and you have an antioxidant-rich treat.
9. Tofu. Start your kids on tofu when they’re young, and they’ll embrace its taste and texture as they grow. Rich in protein and low in fat, tofu is a blank slate that you can sauté with stir fry sauce and veggies, marinate and serve on its own as a snack, or use the silken variety to make a healthy smoothie.
10. Peanut Butter or Sunflower butter. This one is an old favorite for a reason. Spread it on toast, roll it up with granola for a sweet snack, or use it as a dip for veggies or fruit. Peanut butter adds protein and fiber to any snack. Choose sunflower butter as a nut-free alternative.
What do you keep in the kitchen, on hand for snack time? Let us know in the comments!