Since the pandemic started, I’ve been connecting with a lot of parents and listening to their biggest concerns around food.
Particularly when I was presenting on how to raise more adventurous eaters and reduce picky eating power struggles for families, busy moms kept asking for a list of healthy snacks for kids.
In our Kids Cook Real Food™ members-only Facebook group and even from a podcast host who was interviewing me, I was getting the same question:
Katie, don’t you have a list somewhere of good ideas for easy, healthy snacks for kids?
I admit that may have been one of the few times I was speechless. 😉
Of course, I want to help parents and kids find healthy snack options, and I was quite shocked that I had not actually ever published a comprehensive snacking list.
Sure we have our free gift, 10 Healthy Snacks Kids Can Make, and that’s been available for a few years. However, those are all homemade snacks, and although some of them are easy, they all take a little investment of time.
If you haven’t already taught your kids to cook, you might be looking for something a little less hands-on and recipe-based.
During our own pandemic experience, as I talked about in this Healthy Parenting Connector Live, we instituted a household manager strategy during the summer. The kids had no responsibilities and the parents still had full workdays required, so we passed more responsibility than ever on to the kids.
Our three older kids were completely responsible for snacks and lunch during weekdays. In order to help them make healthy choices, I typed up as exhaustive a list as I could think of, of both snack and lunch options.
I will share soon over on Kitchen Stewardship some ideas for lunch during summer, homeschool, or virtual learning days, but let’s talk about these snacks.
Warning: These Snacks Are Simple
I’m not lazy, but I always think simple is better.
And I can tell you that my kids agree!
Although they had this list, which is pretty long, a few dozen options, my kids tended toward single-ingredient, easy-to-grab snacks.
They were always healthy, except on those days when they would choose to have their dessert for the day at snack time. This is totally okay in our household. (Again, sharing on that quite soon.)
But ultimately I want to encourage you to embrace the simple. As long as your snacks are healthy, why complicate things?
What about Prepackaged Snacks for Kids?
When I told my team that I really wanted to publish a list of healthy snacks for kids and I thought that it would help a lot of parents, some of them disagreed.
They said things like, “You know, Katie, I don’t know if parents struggle that much with snacks. I think a lot of people have a snack basket, shelf, or cupboard with prepackaged, crunchy snacks that kids are allowed to grab.”
I thought about that. I’ve seen lots of pictures on Pinterest and Instagram of snack organizational strategies. I even have some snack organization strategies on Kitchen Stewardship.
My team member was totally right.
There are baskets of chips and pretzels, baskets of granola bars, and baskets of single-serve fruit cups and applesauce.
There are those squeezy pouches and, of course, all of the crunchy snacks that might go in the general goldfish cracker family.
Do parents really want healthy snacks that might be homemade?
Fortunately, I talk with enough families who are dedicated to providing real food for their kids that I know this is still a need. So here goes!
Easy, Healthy Snacks for Kids: A Simple List
Here’s exactly the list I shared with my kids for the summer.
What my kids choose most (i.e. the easiest snacks!):
- Trail mix: nuts and dried fruit
- Cheese and clean ingredient crackers or homemade
- Paleovalley meat sticks (Use the code KITCHEN10 for 10% of!)
- Whole, fresh fruit: bananas and apples are usually on hand, as well as occasionally peaches, pears, blueberries — whatever is in season or on sale!
- Cut up a melon to share
- Homemade muffins or bars (usually when Leah is inspired to make something)
- Apples and peanut butter (which I bet my daughter eats five out of seven days)
- Fruit rolls or apple chips
Our Favorite Homemade Muffins and Bars
In case you (or your kids) are looking for something to make:
- Pumpkin muffins (or gluten-free/egg-free/dairy-free pumpkin muffins)
- Grain-free coconut flour muffins (we make these into multiple flavors to fit different kids’ tastes!)
- Homemade granola bars
- Spelt banana muffins (and also some yummy muffins from Chef Junior)
- Einkorn applesauce muffins
- Leah loves to take her homemade 100% whole wheat tortillas (or gluten-free homemade tortillas), heat one slightly, and add butter or ghee + honey + cinnamon to make a fun sweet treat that satisfies!
Other Healthy Snack Ideas I Suggested:
- Yogurt and frozen fruit
- Veggies and guac, ranch or hummus
- Ants on a log
- Monkey salad (nuts, coconut, and a sliced banana, check out this fun video to see my 3-year-old prepare it on the news!)
- Fruit or applesauce cups (not my favorite unless we’re away from home because of the waste FYI, but a jar of applesauce with no added sugar or artificial sweeteners is a great, frugal idea)
- Homemade applesauce (how to make your own EASY homemade applesauce, or even make applesauce in the Instant Pot)
- Homemade gelatin or fruit gummies (my daughter really loves to make grape juice gelatin, and it’s SO quick and easy!)
- Chia pudding
- Healthy “hummus” i.e. chickpea dip like breakfast hummus or chocolate dessert hummus (and my daughter’s favorite is this cookie dough hummus from Don’t Waste the Crumbs)
- Find a fun recipe to make, like power balls, granola bars, other bars, muffins, crispy chickpeas, peanut butter kisses, chocomole, etc. (most of these are in my most popular eBook at Kitchen Stewardship, Healthy Snacks to Go)
If you have a desire to cook real food more fluently or gain confidence in remaking some of your own processed style recipes using only whole foods, you’ll love the bestselling eBook Better Than a Box.
With 60 ready-to-go recipes and 100 pages of kitchen tutorials, your family will be singing your real food praises in no time. Click HERE for more info on the premium package, including the Kindle version.
Will Kids Eat Vegetables for Snack?
I’m disappointed to admit that my kids rarely, if ever, choose vegetables for a snack.
That’s why we really work hard to include vegetables at breakfast, raw veggies in their packed school lunches, and lots of different colors and types of vegetables at dinner, as I talked about in this how-to roast vegetables tutorial.
Some families have done much better than me at encouraging vegetables for a snack. Check out this quote from one of our members.
E’s favorite “snack” is to cut up a tomato and half of a cucumber and drizzle it with olive oil and red wine vinegar. L prefers cut-up fresh fruit. And thanks to Kids Cook Real Food™, all I have to do is purchase the ingredients.
Don’t you love that?
Kids making their own snacks and upping their game to make them healthier is just one of the dozens of benefits of teaching your kids to cook, and now that process can be even easier.
Because we realized that kids and parents were having a lot of screen time virtual learning together, we decided to make our classes even more independently accessible for older kids, ages 8 and up.
Kids Cook Solo is our new independent training program, where the kids have their own membership dashboard with all the instructions written directly to them.
It’s kid-friendly, easy language, no sidebars, or distractions. Lots of quick dopamine hits to keep them moving forward and even some presentation skills included.
Once the kids watch our professionally filmed videos and learn the skill, they are instructed to get out all the ingredients they’ll need, and then prepare a short presentation for their adult to teach what they’ve learned.
This accomplishes a few things.
One, the child learns better, because teaching is the best research-backed way to learn.
Two, the adult can be assured that their child has learned the skills and will be safe in the kitchen.
Three, the child gets presentation practice, another life skill sneaking in there.
Four, the adult knows when the child will start actually cooking the recipe because part of the presentation is to ask for permission.
If you have kids ages 8 and up, who would love to be independent in the kitchen, but you would love them to be able to work independently so that you don’t have to teach them, Kids Cook Solo is about to be your best friend.
Kids don’t need any prior kitchen experience to take this program; and even if they’re not already motivated to learn to cook, as soon as they see the look on your face when they present you with their first recipe, they’ll be hooked.
Check out details on the affordably priced program here.
A Few More Ideas for Healthy Snacks for Kids
- We have a few more easy ideas for healthy snacks even preschoolers can make on their own!
- Purchased snacks that are still healthy (if you’re not allowed to bring/send homemade snacks to school or just need something quicker sometimes!)
- Save money on snacks with these tips
- Gluten-free snack mix kids can make
What You Should Do Next:
1. Subscribe to The Healthy Parenting Connector
2. Try a Free Preview of my Cooking Class for Kids
Our members’ favorite lesson is always our 10-minute knife skills and safety class, teaching techniques with unique & memorable phrases from butter knives to chef’s knives (ages 2-teen). Take a peek here and try it out with your kids.
3. Enroll in the Online Cooking Course for Kids:
About Katie Kimball
Katie Kimball, CSME, creator of Kids Cook Real Food and CEO of Kitchen Stewardship, LLC, is passionate about connecting families around healthy food. As a trusted educator and author of 8 real food cookbooks, she’s been featured on media outlets like ABC, NBC and First for Women magazine and contributes periodically on the FOX Network.
Since 2009, busy moms have looked to Katie as a trusted authority and advocate for children’s health, and she often partners with health experts and medical practitioners to stay on the cutting edge. In 2016 she created the Wall Street Journal recommended best online kids cooking course, Kids Cook Real Food, helping thousands of families around the world learn to cook. She is actively masterminding the Kids’ Meal Revolution, with a goal of every child learning to cook.
A mom of 4 kids from Michigan, she is also a Certified Stress Mastery Educator, member of the American Institute of Stress and trained speaker through Bo Eason’s Personal Story Power.