If you have school-age children, it’s that chaotic time of year where your mind has to focus on finding healthy snacks for kids. Gone is the carefree, improvisational romp of Summer (at least for the kids). For the next nine months, everyone must surrender to all things academic. If it’s unclear, this is the premise behind the three simple words, back to school.
Your schedule blows up, bath and bedtime routines change, homework is back along with all the tests and projects, teacher meetings, pick-up lines (God help us all), and more fundraisers than should be legal.
Each weekday morning arrives seemingly seconds after you lay your head on the pillow at night, and while you pour that first cup of coffee, the never-ending question arises – “What will I feed this clan today?”
For starters, they need snacks and a lunch they’ll eat.
And let’s get real, that is no small feat! It’s a struggle to find that sly combo of easy and nutritious that you can:
- tuck into lunch bags,
- offer after school in the car and at home,
- or make available before after-school practices.
With everything else you’re doing, we know it will feel most convenient to reach for the processed snack and lunch options in your standard grocery aisles.
We get it.
Here’s the problem: those snacks may have been there for weeks or months. And what’s more, you know they lack the nutritional value you and your family need to successfully fuel your days and early evenings.
So, while it may seem counterintuitive to ask your kids what they want, here’s why you should:
Not only can your kids give you insight into the flavors and textures they prefer, but their ideas also serve as the jumping-off point to build your base.
- Do they like chocolate? That’s a call for a homemade trail mix with a few dark chocolate chips included (see our free recipe download below).
- Maybe they like oranges but hate getting their fingers sticky peeling them? Peel those suckers and place them in a reusable silicone bag or container.
- They like hard-boiled eggs, but they can’t get the shell off. No problem! Buy them peeled or peel them yourself for an incredible daily source of protein for your kiddos.
- What if they don’t like bread? How about serving up peanut butter and jelly on apple slices (not wedges) instead. Added benefit – crunch!
- We know kids who don’t like getting their fingers dirty. Make “lunch kabobs” using their favorite fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and proteins on these adorable food picks.
The truth is you don’t have to turn to nutrient-lacking, processed foods when there are several delicious snacks and lunches you can assemble with a little bit of planning.
Here are a few more ideas for healthy snacks for kids:
- Seasonal fruit with cheese and crackers. Combine some ripe fruit (watermelon is excellent right now) with your kid’s favorite cheese slices and some whole-grain crackers. They’ll get vitamins from the fruit, protein from the cheese, and carbs from the crackers – enough to keep them going until their next meal.
- Bean spread. You can make hummus with chickpeas or a white bean spread with a bit of garlic, rosemary, and lemon juice. Pair this with some celery or carrot sticks for a tasty protein-packed treat.
- Chicken and avocado tortilla roll-ups. A compact and tasty way to pack in protein, and there are seemingly endless health benefits of avocados.
- Fruit smoothies. Pick one or two fruits and combine them with some Greek yogurt and milk (any kind will do). This well-balanced snack is especially great for hot days.
- Celery with almond butter and raisins (ants on a log!). A pretty straightforward snack overflowing with healthy fats, protein, and an oh-so-satisfying crunch.
- A healthy trail mix. You won’t believe how easy it is to assemble your favorite combination of nuts, dried fruit, and a few dark chocolate morsels for a sweet and savory protein snack. (Tip: You can download our free recipe below.)
In the realm of packing healthy snacks for kids, what typically starts as well-intentioned efforts at the beginning of the year often devolves into the category of just doing what’s easy.
Every parent has hit this fork in the road…
You send your children to school with fresh vegetables and other nutrient-packed items. But after a month or two, the task—often beset with their endless requests for Twinkie-esque treats—can become a tiring chore.
It’s essential to keep in mind that what matters most is not that you do it all; it’s that you find a way that works for you and your family while keeping everyone healthy.
If finding the time to create healthy snack and lunch options seems more than you want to handle right now, you don’t have to manage it alone. We can take that off your plate (pun intended) with our personal chef services.
Truthfully, we can handle any of your family’s food needs. All you need to do is take 3-5 minutes to complete this food questionnaire to set up your free consultation and get started!
Packing healthy snacks for kids also includes food safety awareness.
Please don’t throw your hands in the air and run screaming from your kitchen.
We know – you’re already doing a lot with all the planning, prepping, and packing of your kid’s food. But! There’s no way we could pull together a post about healthy snacks for kids without addressing that there are items that you must store at a specific temperature.
Keeping foods properly cooled is a safety issue, period.
One study in Texas (where the weather is similar to Florida’s) found 88.2% of kid’s lunches were at a hazardous temperature 90 minutes before lunch.
Umm, that’s not good because bacteria flourish in the Danger Zone of 40° and 140° F.
Here are some ideas for keeping your kids snacks and lunches well within the safety zone:
- Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Perishable food transported without an ice source won’t stay safe long. And here’s a trick for helping hot foods stay hot longer: Fill the insulated container with boiling water, let it stand for a few minutes, empty it, and then put in the chili, soup, or whatever.
- Wash your hands thoroughly during food prep. And instruct your kids to do so right before eating. Make sure the water’s warm, use enough soap to make it lather and then hum the theme from “Jeopardy” to make sure you scrub for at least 20 seconds.
- Are you sending along food for your littlest ones? Remember that the immune system isn’t fully developed in children under five, so be extra vigilant regarding handwashing and cross-contamination during food prep.
- Trust your nose and eyes, and teach your kids to do the same. If something smells funny or isn’t the right color, take a pass.
Food Safety – Keeping Guard Against Gluten
Unfortunately, if your child has a gluten allergy or celiac disease, you’re only halfway to food safety after following the tips above.
We’ve talked about gluten before; but, in addition to avoiding gluten in the lunches and snacks you provide, keep in mind these tips:
- Meet with your child’s teachers. Explain the limits of his/her allergy. And make a plan with the teachers and your child for steps to be taken in the event of exposure to gluten.
- Provide alternative snacks as needed. Ask your child’s teacher if you could store a few gluten-free brownies or cupcakes in a school freezer for those unexpected times another parent sends in treats so your child isn’t left out.
- Watch out for classroom projects involving flour or Play-Doh. If the school can provide a heads up, you might consider providing a gluten-free substitute for the entire class.
Will you let us make your school year easier?
Sure, we can provide healthy snacks for kids and lunches for your entire family if you want. Still, those two things might not feel as overwhelming if you knew you were coming home to a delicious and healthy dinner every weekday.
Rated the best personal chef service in Miami, Florida, we incorporate the most nutritious ingredients into thousands of delicious recipes for our clients.
And because we specialize in food sensitivities and allergies, there’s nothing you or your family needs that we can’t accommodate.
Take 3-5 minutes to complete this food questionnaire to set up your free consultation and get started!