Meal Planning Monday: The Never-Ending Search For Healthy Kids Snacks

Meal Planning Monday: The Never-Ending Search For Healthy Kids Snacks | Growing Up Herbal | See how I've bridged the gap between kids snacks that are healthy and convenient.

Kids, for some reason, need snacks. Lots of them.

If you try to find healthy kids snacks for your little ones you either end up spending a lot of money buying them at the store or a lot of time making them at home.

For most parents, there needs to be a happy medium. Either healthy store-bought snacks that don’t cost a fortune or easy-to-make homemade snacks that don’t take a ton of time.

With four little guys in the house that are growing like weeds and seem to be hungry all. the. time., it’s all I can do to find enough food for them to eat at meal times, let alone, worry about snacks too.

In this month’s Monday Meal Planning post, I’m talking about the seemingly never-ending search for healthy kids snacks that we natural mamas go through as well as some things that I’ve found that work for us.

Store-Bought Snacks Are Junk… Convenient Junk

Most all store-bought snacks these days are pure junk. Junk designed to get your kids addicted to sugar, to make them fat and hyperactive, and to mess up their guts. They’re filled with fake sugars, processed grains, dyes, preservatives, so on and so forth.

The only pro to store-bought snacks is that they’re convenient, and with today’s busy lifestyles, that makes a difference to a lot of parents. I know convenience is a draw for me.

The Problem With Homemade Snacks

Meal Planning Monday: The Never-Ending Search For Healthy Kids Snacks | Growing Up Herbal | See how I've bridged the gap between kids snacks that are healthy and convenient.

My biggest issue with making healthy kids snacks at home is the amount of time it takes to make them. And when I do make them, they seem to be gone in no time! So not only am I taking the time to make these elaborate snacks, but I have to turn right back around and make them again in 3 days. Good grief!

What I need is the convenience of store-bought snacks and the health of homemade snacks.

Bridging The Snack Gap

So, I finally realized that I can’t have the best of both worlds… the convenience of store-bought and the health of homemade without spending a fortune and investing a lot of time in it. At least, I’ve not found that world yet.

So what I decided to do was to compromise. I needed to stop beating myself up and feeling guilty when I bought snacks that were less than ideal, and I needed to find the time to make homemade snacks that were simpler and easier to make.

Breaking Out The Recipe Binder

The first thing I did was to grab my recipe binder, open it to the front page where our favorite meals are listed and add a section for snacks. This makes it easy for me when I’m going to the grocery store, and I’m out of snacks. I can quickly grab my binder, open it, and make a list of snacks I need to buy (or ingredients to make homemade snacks).

Next, I went online to find some more quick, healthy kids snacks that I can make from home without spending all my time doing it. I printed off 4 or 5 recipes and put them in the snacks section of my recipe binder and wrote them on the front page in the snacks section.

Now, the snack section of my binder looks like this:

  • Store-Bought Snacks: pretzels, cheese sticks, fruit, mixed nuts, no-sugar-added fruit strips, veggie chips, blocks of cheese and wheat crackers, raisins, veggies (celery, carrots)
  • Homemade Snacks: popcorn, yogurt, trail mix, granola bars, hummus, ranch dressing

So, not too bad when it comes to health, and not too bad when it comes to saving time. 

Setting Snacking Limits

Meal Planning Monday: The Never-Ending Search For Healthy Kids Snacks | Growing Up Herbal | See how I've bridged the gap between kids snacks that are healthy and convenient.

Another thing I’ve had to do with my kids is to establish some rules when it comes to snacking.

Seeing as how my kids are home with me all day (since they’re homeschooled), it would be easy for them to run to the fridge or pantry and grab something every time they felt hungry. However, that’s excessive, and it doesn’t teach them patience or responsibility. Plus, it’s simply a bad habit that I don’t want to start. Instead, we have daily routines that work for all of us, and we do our best to stick with those routines.

When it comes to snack times, the kids get a fruit at 10 AM after they finish their morning chores. That’s about halfway between breakfast and lunch and is just enough to tide them over until lunch. Their next snack is at 4 PM which is about 2 hours before dinner. This is a bigger, more well-rounded snack that almost always includes a protein source of some kind. It usually ends up being 2-3 smallish things which usually holds them over until dinner. 

And that’s it! That’s how I’m currently doing snacks in our house.

So What Do Healthy Kids Snacks Look Like In Your Family?

Okay, now it’s your turn. I’ve told you how I’ve tried to make finding healthy kids snacks work for me and my kids and our lifestyle, but what about you?

What are your kids favorite healthy snacks? Have you found a way to save money and time and still keep health a priority? I’d love to hear your experiences and tips in the comments below!
  1. Sarai says:

    I’ve got 4 as well & snacks can definitely cost a fortune! Especially if I don’t prepackaged the amount they can have! I have fruits & veggies on hand all the time if they need a pick me up… Cliff bars for my oldest boy who has trouble gaining weight… & trail mix & cheese sticks from the store. Sometimes I’ll make muffins or cookies for snacks as well. I’ve found that the older my kids get the less I can buy the convenient junk… I recently found out that my daughter was sneaking in the middle of the night to raid the snack closet so I’ve done away with it.

    • Meagan says:

      Thanks for sharing, Sarai. I’ve been wondering lately how to go about encouraging and overseeing health food choices as my kids get older. Right now they’re still small and they mostly eat healthy since that’s what we have here, but I realize, at some point, they’re going to have to start making food choices for themselves. It’s a tricky balance knowing how much to control the situation versus letting them make mistakes and reap the consequences themselves. That’s how we learn after all. I suppose it’s something to start thinking about now so it makes it easier when the time comes.

  2. Sarah D. says:

    Your snack lists look similar to what we keep on hand. I wouldn’t worry too much about snacks, though. It sounds like you’ve got a good routine going! For us, we’re still working on “routine”… We just moved and are expecting our 5th child in a month. 🙂 The children don’t ask for snacks too often, except maybe a banana, apple, cheese stick, or cream cheese and crackers once in a while; actually, I’m usually the one who gets “the munchies”! 🙂 Probably because I’m either pregnant or breastfeeding (or both) most of the time since I got married 8 1/2 years ago… 😉

    • Meagan says:

      Thanks for sharing Sarah! And I can totally relate to “the munchies.” I do that even when I’m not pregnant or nursing!

  3. Michelle says:

    I appreciate your balanced approach. When my children were younger, it was all about the snacks (little bellies needed filling all the time!) Now they are older, and snack time has become easier (sort of). We do a lot of what you mention for homemade, along with smoothies with kale, almond butter and right now, spring herbs (like chickweed and violet). And of course, they know we eat “different” than many of the families in our neighborhood (no sodas, etc)

    The biggest challenge for me currently is that I work full-time outside the home, so husband provides meals and snacks, and he needs regular gentle reminders to stay on track…writing a list sounds like a good idea to help remind us all. Thanks for sharing your strategies.

  4. Kristen @ Smithspirations says:

    Your title couldn’t be more accurate! The requests for snacks seem never-ending, too. 😉

  5. DIETITIAN Heather says:

    I, too, homeschool 2. Mid-morning gets extra protein here, as sometimes “the most important meal of the day” gets rushed. Then fruit around 4 keeps them satisfied as I start fixing supper around 430. We skip pretzels (except w/peanut butter as special travel convenience) due to difficulty finding whole grain. I also occasionally buy baked whole grain crackers, but my husband keeps finding them! We love nut butter and adding a dollop of homemade jelly (gonna try elderberry and rosehip/cranapple as new recipes this year) into organic yogurt. I like to include the kids in picking edible flowers from our garden and while foraging. Lots of fun snacks to be had while out hiking around during nature study! As the kids get older, they often want to choose the junkier items, but I gently remind them of balancing blood sugar and nutrients. It has been very helpful to teach a basic nutrition class at our coop for the little people and discuss with them food combining and as I plan for teaching it to high schoolers. Also great to include the kids in meal planning before getting to grocery shopping and adjusting it as we run into seasonal items or sales at the market.

    • Meagan says:

      Great points, Heather. Thanks for sharing them with me! I 100% agree with including kids in kitchen activities. It helps them learn without feeling like learning, and it helps cut down of picky eating as well!

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