Healthy Family Snack Ideas
As a parent, offering homemade snacks in the day can seem like another item on your endless to do list. It is all too easy to reach for a packet snack. There is definitely a time and place for ready-made-snacks (when you are travelling and on-the-go), but I don’t want them to be the staple snacks my child eats, each week; as not all ready-made snacks and finger foods are made equal. I recommend looking for brands with the organic logo, read the packet ingredients (you should be able to recognise them all) and check there are no additives, stabilizers, sugars, flavourings or salt (for smaller children). By making your own snacks, you have the added benefit of knowing exactly what’s in them.
I write and blog about family friendly food; but often the best snack ideas I get come from other parents. Ask other mums and dads what their go-to snacks are: you’ll get so many good tips, simply by sharing ideas at your local playgroup, or nursery. The benefit being they are also tried and tested. In my experience, simple is best and snack time needn’t be complicated.
Plan snacks that you can enjoy as a family; that way they are easy to incorporate into the weekly shop, will get eaten and aren’t an extra “task” in an already busy week. Children are a lot more active than us and growing at a fast rate, so having a snack in between meals may give them a welcome boost. Generally smaller tummies fill up fast and energy is burnt off quicker (although all children are different). I find with my daughter that a balanced and healthy morning snack and afternoon snack keeps her energy levels stable and helps her appetite. She eats better at mealtimes if she hasn’t had long gaps between meals. Find out what works best for your child, as the right snacks can provide nutrients, aide concentration and stabilise energy levels. Timing is important: avoid offering snacks too close to meal times. Lunch and dinner should still be substantial meals: there is nothing more frustrating than serving up food to full tummies.
In researching this piece, I spoke with paediatric dietician Bianca Parau about ideal ingredients for snacks: she recommended low GI wholegrain carbohydrates: such as oats, quinoa, pulses and popcorn (depending on age and any specific food intolerances). These have the benefit of slowly releasing energy; good for both concentration and mood. Snacks are also a great opportunity to increase your family’s intake or fruit and vegetables. To encourage little ones to try new things I take a multiportion tray, or muffin tin and fill each segment with a different snack: anything from blueberries, to mini rice cakes, to steamed veg sticks. Make sure there is lots of variety and colour: not only does this take a few minutes to assemble, your little one will be much more likely to try something new.
My Go-To Easy Family Snacks (at the moment):
1. Vegetable sticks and homemade dips
2. Apple Slices spread with nut butter*
*not suitable for nut allergies
3. Stuffed eggs: hard boiled eggs, cut in half, remove the yolks and mash with avocado then fill the cooked egg whites, with the avocado mix
*not suitable for egg allergies
4. Popcorn is great fun (and bigger kids love making it); drizzle with dark chocolate or make savoury versions, such as ~ melted butter, thyme and finely grated Parmesan
5. Smoothies: so quick to make try my green version: a banana, handful of strawberries and baby spinach leaves and a splash of milk (dairy or non-diary)
6. Freeze any leftover smoothies and make mini ice ice-pops
7. Oven Baked Sweet Potato Crisps and smashed avocado
8. Fruit kebabs, make these on chopsticks or reusable straws (as blunt)
9. Home-made oat bars: see my version with apple, raisins and cinnamon
10. Tuna dip: is another website recipe and made from store cupboard ingredients, delicious with breadsticks
I hope that gives you some new inspo!
I have put together a little mood board of different ideas below ~
although N.B. these are suitable for bigger children and not babies