Snacks during the day are an important way to keep children fueled and focused! Planning healthy snacks ahead of time for family summer activities, like picnics, hikes, or movie nights in the living room, can help satisfy hunger between meals, while also helping to meet your family’s health goals.
When making your own smart and healthy choices with snacks for the whole family to enjoy, it’s important to think about what will keep you and your child full to concentrated and motivated throughout the day. Here are a few tips:
- Try to include multiple food groups: Try to prepare snacks that include all the five food groups - fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, and grains - to ensure you are eating a well-balanced, nutritious meal. Some examples can include, apples with peanut butter, carrots with hummus, or yogurt with summer berries.
- Include a fruit or vegetable: Children should consume at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day! Snacks are an excellent choice to meet your daily recommendations. Get creative with your fruit and vegetable snack ideas, like fruit kababs, summer corn and tomato salsa, or frozen fruit sherbet.
- Use whole grains: Whole grains are packed with fiber which helps to keep stomachs satisfied. Try whole grain tortilla chips and guacamole, whole grain crackers and cheese slices, or healthy whole grain blueberry muffins.
Plan healthy on-the-go snacks with these helpful packing tips:
- Pack travel-friendly foods: Healthy items that do not require refrigeration can provide a quick option for planning on-the-go activities. Examples can include applesauce, 100% fruit cups, dried fruit, pretzels, lightly seasoned air-popped popcorn, dried vegetable chips, whole fruit – such as bananas, oranges, and apples - and whole-grain crackers.
- Stay hydrated: Please the whole crew by creating a delicious pitcher of flavored water with slices of citrus and cucumber or by blending a healthy smoothie with your favorite fruit, vegetable, 100% juice, low-fat milk, or yogurt for a sweet summer treat. Visit the CNS blog to learn more about how much water you should be drinking in a day.
- Build your own snack: Have everyone in the family get creative and personalize their own trail mix with their favorite unsalted nuts and add-ons, such as dried fruit, air-popped popcorn, and seeds. Check out this infographic from the International Food Information Council for tips to help you build-your-own simple and nutritious trail mix snack.
- Portion Your Snack: Preparing snacks in advance, such as washing and cutting up fruits and vegetables and portioning out snacks into a resealable plastic bag, can save time and prevent overeating.
Don’t forget to keep food safety in mind with snacking! When packing your snacks for on-the-go use, it is important to keep your food at the appropriate temperature. Eat perishable foods within two hours of being taken out of the fridge to help prevent any foodborne illnesses. It may be helpful to keep cold food in coolers with frozen packs of ice to keep them chilled.
Are you looking for more snack tips? Check out MyPlate’s website for helpful snack tips for parents.