Easy Family Snacks

The topic I get asked about most through Mimi’s Bowl is snacks: when to give snacks? snack ideas? how often? I’m sure the reason why snacks are on the agenda for us as parents, is they can seem like another item on your endless to do list. It is all too easy to reach for a packet snack and perhaps we feel guilty. Are packet snacks okay? And are they good enough for our kids? This was the subject of our recent brunch date, hosted with Tiny Table. I spent a morning with a group of like minded parents and this is what we talked about. So, if you would like to catch up my snack-know-how: here is an overview. I hope it helps you plan some nutritious and fun snacks for the holidays.

Read this and then set yourself a new challenge

+1 new homemade snack a week, for each week of this Summer holidays

 

pre-bought snacks ~

Firstly there is a time and place for ready-made-snacks. And I get asked all the time if I buy them: the answer is of course YES! I am a parent too, with two kids under five. They are convenient and when we are travelling and on-the-go they make my life easy. But, what I would caution is not all ready-made snacks are made equal. So when you are buying them look at the labelling carefully: look for an organic logo, this generally suggests the provenance of the ingredients is better quality. Secondly, you should be able to recognise all of the ingredients, or there should be a bracket explaining the reason for an ingredient that isn’t instantly recognisable. Check there are no additives, stabilisers, added sugars or salt.

why I make my own snacks ~

Making your own snacks is inexpensive and helps me prevent less food waste at the end of each week. The best snacks are made from what you already have to hand. If you make your own snacks not only will you save money but you will use good ingredients. You have the added benefit of knowing exactly what’s in them. Simple is best and snack time should not be complicated: a boiled egg, some vegetable crudités and a quick dip, and so on. I often ask other parents what their go-to snacks are, I get my best ideas from them. So share snack ideas at your nursery, or playgroup.

the nutrition bit ~

  • Children are a lot more active than us/ growing at a fast rate, so having a snack in between meals will give them a welcome boost

  • Small tummies fill up fast and energy is burnt off quicker, so snacks are important

  • Our paediatric nutritionist Bianca recommends 3 meals + 2 snacks per day. Snacks often get less attention but they are an important part of eating well

  • Low GI wholegrain carbohydrates are ideal: as they will slowly release energy. They will aide concentration and stabilise mood swings. Think about including oats, quinoa, pulses, beans, lentils, peas (depending on age and any specific food intolerances)

  • Snacks are a great opportunity to increase your family’s intake or fruit and vegetables: increasing the number of portions they eat a day. Here are the recommended guidelines from the NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/5-a-day-portion-sizes/

I have illustrated some example portions below - hopefully this makes the number of portions of fruit and veg, we are aiming for our kids to eat, less intimidating. One portion of veg for example is 2-6 carrot sticks!

  • Balance snacks throughout the day, you want to include some ~

    Complex carbs (energy) = wholegrain bread, pitta, crackers, bagels, rice cakes, breadsticks

    Proteins (filling) = pulses, beans, lentils, peas, meat, cheese, egg, nut butter/ nuts, beans

    Vegetables/ Fruits (vitamins and nutrients) = avocado, banana, berries, tomatoes, crudités, apple, grapes

n.b. suggestions above depend on age, intolerances and allergies. Choose snacks which are suitable for your child

 

my snack hacks ~

Balanced and healthy snacks (am/pm) keep energy levels stable and can help children eat better at mealtimes. (avoid) long gaps between meals

Find out what works best for your child, what they like

Plan snacks that you can enjoy as a family: what snacks are you eating yourself?

Prep and plan snacks: include ingredients in the weekly shop include a snack plan in your week: doesn’t need to be complicated, prep ahead: make up smoothie bags, pancake mixes, energy ball mixes in jars

Make snacks that are also meals: ie. cook once and eat a few times. Muffins or oat bars, snack or breakfast?

Waste Less make snacks from meal leftovers:  freeze smoothies = frozen fruit lollies, freeze left over fruit = smoothie ingredients, left over veggies sticks = rice paper rolls, shredded roast chicken

Timing is important: avoid offering snacks too close to meal times

Encourage little ones to try new things, at snack time – it is informal and often away from their normal eating environment, you might be surprised. 

Be creative with the snacks you serve: snacks can be fun!
(a) How you serve the snacks: portioned lunch boxes for on the go/ muffin tin selection of snacks for playdates, fun visual ideas, Rainbow fruit kebabs, Cutters – to make shapes

Take shortcuts: this is about moving away from packet snacks, so don’t set unrealistic expectations you don’t need to bother making your own nut butter, or hummus

 

Easy family snack ideas ~

Simple is always best, here are some easy ideas to help you along this Summer Holidays, recommendations do not take into consideration specific allergies or dietary requirements ~ please adapt accordingly

  • Fruit ~ Smoothies, Smoothie Lollies, Homemade fruit yogurts (blend fruit and natural yogurt until smooth)

  • Vegetables ~ oven baked veggie crisps, veggie sticks, edamame beans (you can buy frozen), oven baked kale crisps

  • Dips ~ Hummus, Yogurt, Guacamole, Tuna Dip, or Sweet Options

  • Eggs ~ stuffed, mashed (avocado), hard boiled, omelette strips, eggy bread

  • Oats ~ Rolled Energy Balls, Homemade Granola, Oat Bars

  • Baking ~ Biscuit, Crackers, Oat Bars, Cookies, Muffins

  • Savoury ~ Pittas stuffed with fillings, Rice Paper Rolls stuffed with fillings, wrap pinwheels, eggy fried bread, Pizza bases with toppings, cut into strips

  • Seeds ~ pumpkin, sunflower

  • Toppings: Hummus, Nut Butter, Tomato Sauce, Butter, Veggie Mash, Hummus, Pesto, Cream Cheese, No Sugar Jam

As pictured above ~

Fruit, Homemade Fruit Yogurts, Homemade Smoothies, Frozen Smoothie Lolly Pops

Fruit Kebabs, Oat Bars, Carrot Biscuits, Banana Bread

Muffins, Beetroot Hummus, Guacamole, Tuna Dip

Homemade Hummus, Root Veggie Crisps, Salmon PinWheel Wraps, Kale Chips

RecipesMiriam Cooper