45 Real Food Snacks for Kids
Previously, Mindy shared some fantastic ideas more specifically for toddlers and for on-the-go eating (no mess!). Now Stacy shares a very wide variety of any age, kid-friendly, whole food snacks for home and for traveling.
Snacks are an important part of a child’s day. Kids grow fast and need frequent refueling.
The type of food they consume greatly affects their development, attitude, and feeling of well-being.
The task of feeding them is never ending, isn’t it?
The only way I’m able to respond positively to hearing, “Mom, I’m hungry,” over and over and over, is to think and work ahead.
Many times I’ve diligently planned our meals but thought little of snack time. I assumed I could simply throw something together when the need arose. As you can imagine, this hasn’t worked very well. My growing children seem to have more hunger pangs than my brain can handle.
While it’s not necessary to plan each and every snack, a little forethought before heading to the store, and a few minutes preparing snacks in advance, will enable you and your family to make healthier choices when hunger strikes.
Real food snacks are far superior to the packaged products lining supermarkets shelves. Even “organic” snacks are often highly processed and provide little nutritional value. (Of course, sometimes it is necessary to buy these types of items to maintain sanity! I certainly do now and again.)
Eating whole food as a snack is an excellent way to enhance your child’s diet. Keep in mind that variety helps prevent boredom and provides greater nutritional benefits than eating the exact same things repeatedly.
The following is a list of snack ideas than many children will enjoy. Most of these foods could also be served for lunch, too.
I encourage you to make a list of healthy snacks your family likes and post them in an easy to find location such as the inside of a cabinet door or in your home-management binder. Having a list on hand will make life easier when the “hungries” come to call.
- Carrot sticks and hummus
- Veggie tray with hummus or homemade ranch dressing
- Ants on a log – celery filled with peanut butter and topped with raisins
- Guacamole and corn chips or pita chips
(Make your own corn or pita chips by slicing tortillas or pita bread into triangles and baking at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes).
- Fruit eaten alone is one of the easiest snacks around!
- Fruit leather
- Apple chips (made in the dehydrator)
- Dried fruit
- Fruit and cheese tray
Bread, Tortillas, Muffins and Bars
Always use bread made with whole grains. Whenever possible, make breads, tortillas, and muffins from sprouted flour or use the soaking method for extra nutrition and easier digestion.
- Bread (or toast) spread with nut butter, avocado, or cultured butter.
- Mini pizza – Spread an English muffin with tomato paste, sprinkle with grated cheese, then broil until cheese is melted.
- PB&J tortilla roll-up – Spread a tortilla with peanut butter and jelly then roll up.
- Muffins – look for muffin recipes that don’t contain a high amount of sugar. These basic soaked muffins can be customized to suit your families taste. Also look at the Real Food Fundamentals eBook for more ideas.
- Sandwiches – Grilled cheese, meat and cheese, meat and veggies, avocado and tomato, and so on.
- Homemade Granola bars
- Homemade Lara bars
Image by Dietriffic
High Protein Snacks
- Nuts (a handful of nuts is an excellent source of protein and healthy fat. Lightly toast them for added flavor).
- Trail mix – toss your favorite fried fruits and nuts together for a tasty treat.
- Granola energy balls
- Beef jerky
- Hard boiled eggs
- Deviled (or “Angeled”) eggs
- Cooked meat chopped into bite-sized pieces.
- Mini-Meatballs – When making meatballs for dinner, prepare some extra and set on a tray lined with wax paper. Place the tray in the freezer. Once frozen, remove meatballs from the tray and store in a ziplock bag or air-tight container. Thaw and heat as needed.
- Yogurt Popsicles (make with full-fat yogurt)
- Frozen grapes
- Frozen berries
- Popcorn – the real stuff, not microwave! Prepare in an air- popper or on the stove top.
- Snack tray – Prepare your own snack combination by placing a variety of real food items, cut into bite-sized pieces, on a plate or tray. For example: cheese cubes, meat, fruit, and crackers.
Looking for more healthy, kid-friendly snack ideas? One of my favorite resources is the ebook Healthy Snacks to Go, written by another frugal and creative real food mama! Check out the imitation “larabar” recipes… yummy. 🙂
What real food snacks do your kids enjoy?
Top image credit
We usually have organic nachos/salsas and popcorn (that I pop on stove top) in our home. I don’t bake much these days but raw treats/muffins are always appreciated. Mostly, though, I encourage my kids to grab fruit, smoothies and smoothie pops for snacks. Cliff bars come in handy when we’re super busy and my youngest really likes organic brown rice cakes.
Here is a list that I posted a while ago: http://onelittlewordsheknew.blogspot.com/2009/07/snack-ideas.html 🙂
My two year old LOVES homemade yogurt and granola mixed together….then again, so do I. lol
Yum. My hubby likes that snack, too. I add some shredded coconut to his as well.
This is a great list of ideas! I too am guilty of not planning snacks and trying to get something together at the last minute. Most days it’s fruit. My kids love it when I make popcorn or granola bars though. I really need to start putting a section for snacks on my weekly meal plan 🙂
Adding it to your meal plan does make a big difference!
What a great list! I have 4 little snackers at my house and I’m always looking for good ideas. We’re gluten and dairy free so coming up with new ideas is tricky.
My kids adore roasted nuts, homemade larabars, rice cakes with nut butter, and when they’re really hungry, baby carrots and sugar snaps.
I’d never thought of doing smoothies as snacks–that’s a great idea!
Rice cakes are great. My kids like those, too. I top mine with avocado and tomato (my kids don’t care for it that way). Just don’t ever try to toast one. I put out a small fire as a teenager trying toast a rice cake! Bad idea 🙂
I feel like I should print this for future reference! Thanks!
Great list! Thanks so much!
We eat many of those things, but I also pre wash and bag up grapes and carrots, and chop a whole melon or pineapple into fingers, then the kids just grab a few, with the bags from the grapes a quick rinse and the bags are ready for reuse. We also do love corn chips, and eat them with hummus and cream chees with garlic and chives mixed in, also works well in tortilla roll ups with a bit for lean turkey or ham. Also cored apples, microwaved for 1-2 minutes and topped with granola are almost as yummy as baked apples, but my all time gave snack is a whole banana, topped with a tbsp chunky peanut butter and a couple chocolate chips, with vanilla yogurt on top, just like a sundae, yummy!!,
You have some awesome ideas here, Jamie! I’m going to have to add them to my list.
Homemade refried beans are very simple and super cheap. I make huge batches and freeze them; they freeze fine.
They make a good dip for homemade tortilla chips or a super quick burrito
Yum. I forgot about refried beans., They are so good.
Stacy, thanks for this awesome list! Most of these foods are staples in our house, but I’m adding some new ones from your collection! Here are a few of our favorites:
In the fridge:
cottage cheese -full fat (add a little lemon pepper for a yummy veggie dip)
homemade fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt
fresh berries (that vinegar wash really works! They last a LONG time! Swish berries in a water/vinegar bath with a 10:1 ratio, then rinse.)
peppers & hummus
In the freezer: (I try to always have a batch or 2 of SOMETHING in there)
peanut butter balls or energy bites
homemade granola bars
homemade smoothies (in 8 oz. containers to eat partially-thawed with a spoon)
frozen fruit for smoothies & yogurt parfaits
healthy homemade pancakes/waffles/muffins
In the pantry/on the counter:
jars of various nuts & seeds
granola for yogurt parfait
dried fruit & organic fruit leather
PB2 to use in chunky monkey smoothies
organic corn chips (salsa in fridge)
organic garbanzo beans
Cooked to eat right away:
popcorn (made with olive oil in Whirley Pop & topped with yeast flakes)
whole grain toast with cinnamon & butter
sweet potato fries
Um, we’re kind of a snack-happy family! Snacks are a major necessity in this house! Perhaps *I* will do a blog post about snacks soon! 😉 Thanks again for your list!
Oh my. I am now realizing how long my comment is. I guess I added more than just our favorites. Oopsies! Hope it’s okay & that I at least gave others some ideas! 😉
I liked the idea of keeping the list of snacks handy. Many times when my kids are hungry I don’t get any idea about the snacks and even if I get I am confused as to which snack will be good for my kid. I am now going to prepare a list of healthy and delicious snacks for my kids and make sure to have all the raw material required in preparing these snacks.
Great list! We do a lot of these as snacks, too. My son’s absolute favorite snack is an apple, which makes me happy. I try to keep apples on hand so he can have at least one a day. Roasted chickpeas are another one we love.
My kids like apples, too! I’m so glad. It is nice and easy.
Thank you! I’ve been wanting to compile a list to put on the fridge so the kids can refer to it for their after school snacks! This helps a ton!
Good reminders! We’ve just become a “gluten-free” home because of allergies, and so any natural snack lists come in handy. 🙂
My kids do enjoy Cklif bars when we are busy. They love the S’mores Z-bar. (So do I.)
Love the list, I do a corn and flax seed dehydrated corn chip and raw dehydrated cheese nips my family loves. We went gluten free, sugar free and dairy free for our health and it was hard in the beginning to find great snacks. My 3 yr old loves a mix of raw pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds and dehydrated apple juice sweetened cranberries, that mix stays in my purse for snacks when shopping. The best is green smoothie with spinach, parsley, banana and mixed fruit we have it almost daily(mixing up the greens of course).
Thanks for writing such a great blog, Stephanie! It’s been an amazing resource for me (and the friends I’ve gotten on board) as we tread the waters of healthy and whole living. Posts like these are so wonderful because I have a plain and easy go-to list to remind me of all the options I really do have when I’m feeding myself, a picky toddler or a hungry husband! I linked this post on my new blog to share the wealth!
My youngest is on GAPS, so he loves almond flour crackers that I make! My kids snack on fruit mostly, and they love natural peanut butter on apple slices. My oldest loves cheese!
If I pop the popcorn in the microwave using a brown paper bag and olive oil would that be ok?
Great one Stacy! My kids love fruit-based snacks a lot, will try them out 🙂
Hello, This is my first day and first time coming to your site and I want to compliment you. Not only is this site really interesting and fun to read, but I’m getting lots of ideas for what to feed the kids coming to my farm for shearing day. I hope to have a llama trekking business soon and I think your recipes are llama packing friendly. I’ve been subscribing to food blogs a lot in the last year and I’m so happy to have found yours.
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