Whether your child is the pickiest kid on the block or they’d eat just about anything, figuring out what to actually feed them each day feels like a perpetual struggle.
If you’re anything like me, thinking of a filling snack that isn’t cheese takes some serious mental gymnastics.
I actually made a snack list for my son and when I remember to use it, it does make things feel easier.
This master list of snacks, which includes hefty items as well as lighter ones, and both fresh and store bought selections, should make it easier to serve nutritious foods that your kids will actually eat.
I recommend using this list as a starting point and then creating your own customized to your child’s preferences and needs.
How to Plan Healthy Snacks for Kids
In general it’s helpful to think of a snack as a mini meal. That means it should be relatively balanced and include at least one “filling item” like a protein, high-fiber food, or healthy fat.
This is particularly important for younger kids who have less belly and caloric leeway for low nutrition foods.
Two Kinds of Snacks
When offering a snack, I tend to think about what purpose it needs to fill and use that to guide my offering. I’ve broken down the options into two main snack categories:
“Fun snacks” – primarily for entertainment and enjoyment rather than nutrition
“Functional snacks” – meet a nutritional need, whether that’s hunger or filling any nutritional gaps
Questions you can ask to determine which kind of snack you need:
- When is the next meal?
- When was the last meal?
- How hungry is my child?
“Fun snacks” can be lighter and less hefty in the nutrition department
“Functional snacks” should be more of a complete mini meal with some combination of a protein, carb, and fat
- Graham crackers
- Snap pea crisps
- Dried fruit
- Ice cream
- Smoothie melts
- Ants on a log
- Half sandwich
- Milk with fruit
- Milk with bar/energy ball
- Cheese +/- fruit, crackers
- Rice cake with nut butter or cheese
- Snack bar (like Skout Kids bars, mini KIND bars and mini Lara bars)
- Muffin with nut butter or cheese
- Nuts (for older kids)
- Deli meat
- Hummus w/ crackers or bread
If you’re looking for specific packaged snack recommendations, check out my previous snack posts
Healthy sensory-friendly snacks
Crunchy packaged snacks for picky eaters
Healthy snacks for kids with sensory preferences
Sensory snack guide for picky eaters