Five super easy snacks for kids
“Mom, I’m huuungry!”
It’s the billionth time you’ve heard that phrase today, and you’re out of ideas. You don’t want the kids to spoil their appetites with junk food, but you don’t have the energy to create a four-course meal in the middle of the afternoon either. Do you tell them to suck it up and wait until dinner? Do you give in and grab the crackers and fruit snacks? Or is there a better way to you can keep your kiddos filled up between meals without driving yourself crazy?
I hear you. I have two active, crazy little boys, and they are constantly hungry! In fact, one of the first phrases that my almost-two-year-old strung together was, “Just hungry, Mom!”
I try to maintain a pretty set eating schedule that involves three meals and two snacks per day. While we’re not perfect at keeping to this, I think it’s important because my boys eat better meals when they haven’t been munching goldfish crackers and pretzels all day. However, I also feel that if I’m going to require them to wait to eat until our designated times, I need to make sure that their meals, and especially their snacks, are filling enough to satisfy their hunger for at least 2 hours. Ideally, I like to make sure that our snacks have some form of protein and either a fruit or vegetable (or both!) to keep them fueled up and healthy.
So, what do I feed my kids to keep the munchies at bay?
Here are my top five EASY snack foods for kids:
Since I found this recipe two years ago, I’ve made it over and over again, tweaking it along the way according to our tastes and what ingredients I’ve had on hand at the time. I’ve also made my own version with white chocolate chips and Craisins. Yum! Both of my boys love them, and I may have been caught more than once sneaking an extra bite from the fridge, too. They’re great because they are full of healthy ingredients, and they keep in the fridge (or freezer) for a long time. It’s a perfect snack for making a big batch, freezing extras, and then thawing smaller batches as needed.
We make a lot of muffins around here. Paired with some yogurt or fresh fruit, my kids happily gobble them up and are successfully refueled for more adventures. Keep in mind that some muffins are more dessert than health food, but you can make them healthier with a few easy substitutions. First, I often replace 1/4 cup flour with 1/4 cup ground flaxseed. Flaxseed is full of Omega-3 fatty acids, as well as lignans and fiber, so it’s a great way to boost the health factor of your baked goods. Second, I like to replace half of the butter or oil in recipes with applesauce or yogurt. The bread stays nice and soft, but it’s healthier. Just make sure you use plain yogurt and unsweetened applesauce, otherwise you’re just replacing fat with sugar. Some of my favorites are mini blueberry muffins, applesauce oat muffins, and banana chocolate chip bran muffins.
Peanut Butter Banana Wheels
These banana wheels are quite possibly the easiest snack food ever to make. They really don’t even require a recipe, but my boys LOVE them, so I thought they were worth sharing. Ever since I first made them, they’ve been one of our very favorite snacks. Easy, quick, and made with things we almost always have on hand. They’re kind of like a sweeter version of ants on a log. For over a year, we’ve make them for our morning snack several times a week.
Three simple ingredients and about a million varieties make this a great toddler snack. Layer your choice of yogurt, chopped fruit, and granola (or any other kind of cereal) and you’ve got another easy snack on the table. I especially like using this homemade coconut cashew granola in ours because it has less sugar and more good-for-you ingredients (like ground flax seed and chia seeds).
There aren’t many foods more celebrated than smoothies in our household (except for maybe cake and ice cream, but…well…). There are TONS of recipes for smoothies online (try this berry spinach one or this strawberry banana one), and once you learn the basic proportions of smoothie-making, the possibilities are endless. I know some people go all in with the green smoothies, but I’m not going to lie, they’re not my favorite. Instead, ours usually involve a handful of spinach, mixed with milk, orange juice, yogurt, bananas, frozen strawberries and/or blueberries, and whatever else I have on hand. I find that if I just use one good sized handful, then the color and the taste are hidden by the other ingredients, but you still get a decent sized serving of their awesome nutrients. BONUS: I often pour any leftovers into popsicle molds. My boys think it’s the coolest thing ever to eat popsicles, so when they ask for smoothie pops and I agree, I get awesome mom points, and they have no idea they’re eating all sorts of good-for-you foods. Everyone is happy.
On any given day, you can be sure that at least one or more of the above snacks will make it to our table. We still eat our fair share of goldfish crackers, but these easy snacks have added some variety to our menus and help me make sure that my kids are getting the nutrients they need to grow up to be “big and strong like daddy” as my four-year-old likes to say.