I get asked a ton of questions about what I feed my kids as a dietitian. I guess I don’t think it’s that different than others but that’s probably because I became a dietitian because of my mother. She cooked all the time, instilled in us a love for vegetables and trying new foods, and we always had a balanced meal. I can remember watching her chop vegetables as a kid and thinking “someday I’ll be able to chop as fast as her.” So, I guess I feed my kids a lot like my mom fed us. I involve them in cooking most days, they measure/dump/stir, crack eggs and watch me mesmorized as I chop asking if they will learn to do it that fast. Someday girls!
While I’m a dietitian and know the science behind food and do hold opinions on many, in general, I feed them how I eat. Mostly homemade and a focus on fresh fruits and veg but not all homemade or without processed foods. Lets face it, it’s 2016. That means there are good processed options AND it’s about MODERATION. Pringles, oreos and “daddy’s cereal” aka Captain Crunch Peanut Butter (yes he’s in his 30’s and this is his cereal of choice) can all be found at our house on occasion. To give my husband credit he rarely eats dessert and would choose savory over sweet any day. Cereal is just his sweet thing. Lets briefly talk kids snacks. This could be a novel in itself but here are a few tips and snack ideas. I do hope it helps and please share any I missed.
A few things to remember about kids, snacking and nutrition
- A kid knows when they are full (or should be learning it if they haven’t already). I chose what the snack is (or we do together) but whatever is chosen is chosen and they decide how much to have.
- If my kids are hungry really close to a meal I encourage fresh fruits and vegetables (as they would have had these with the meal)
- It is best to have scheduled snack times but I will say that worked while my kids were in full time daycare but now that I’m home full time it’s not as scheduled as each day has it’s own schedule.
- Talk to your kids about food and food groups. I will say things like “You can have that as your grain, lets have a fruit or vegetable with it.” You’ll be amazed how they’ll pick up on it.
- Never talk “GOOD” vs “BAD” food. This is my PET PEEVE. It gives kids a reason to push back on food.
- Remember: what you pack when you are out at playdates, the park or running errands is what they’ll eat. I know obvious but i had to say it. Invest in some nice small snack size Tupperware or compartment Tupperware to put fresh cut up vegetables and sliced fruit or berries in it (just remember to take it out of your bag when you get home or it will go bad). I try to always have a grain option and fruit in my bag when we are out.
- Lastly, the evening snack. UGH, this one gets me as it can be for hunger or a delay tactic. I think it’s best not to give in once on the way to bed. I often offer something in the evening about an hour before bed. Lets face it though push come to shove, moms tired, kids are whiny I do give in. At that point my rule is always ONLY a fruit or vegetable or nut as the kitchen closed.
- Okay one more thing. You are going to see a Costco and Trader Joe’s trend here. Lets face it when my kids can finish a double container of raspberries in a day we have to buy fruit in bulk. Also, I love Trader Joe’s products and I’ve always lived a mile from one.
On-the-Go Kids Snack List
- Homemade Trail mix: this can be fun to pack for a special outing. Have your kids help make theres. You can make this with anything but here is a list of ideas
- Dried unsweetened cereals, dried or freeze dried fruit (with minimal added sugar), any nuts (peanut, almond, cashew, pistachio, soynut), popcorn, goldfish, mini chocolate chips (it’s fun to do honey roasted peanuts as a sweet treat too) or our kids favorite if we are doing a sweet is dark chocolate almonds
- Fresh Fruit- think outside the norm here
- strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, peeled sliced oranges (I cut mine in wedges with the skin on and they love them this way. Grandpa taught them how to make an orange peel smile while they eat too), clementines, apples (sliced or whole), bananas (although not great for packing when you’re out), grapes, mango slices (also can be found pre-sliced at some stores). We also have our fruit we buy seasonally: watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches, cherries, nectarines, plums, pluots
- Fresh veggies (if you cut these when you bring them home you are more apt to serve them and eat them)
- Cucumbers sliced or mini cucumbers (no cutting necessary the kids eat them like a pickle), carrots, bell pepper sticks, jicama sticks (some stores sell these pre-cut which is how I buy them at Trader Joe’s), snap peas, cherry tomatoes, etc… these are just the common ones my kids eat. They will also have radishes, cauliflower or broccoli raw at times but not their favorite raw choices.
- Freeze Dried Fruit- my kids love the strawberries and went through a phase where they liked the mangoes too
- Dried Fruit-Cherries (if you are buying dried fruit try for ones with low added sugar)
- Plantain chips (we just found these at Trader Joe’s and the girls loved them)
- Nuts: almonds, peanuts, cashews, soynuts
- Cliff Z Bars- We’re fans of the iced oatmeal cookie flavor
- Popcorn (we make fresh popcorn all the time as an evening snack or for outings)
- Pretzels and mini hummus cups (I get mini hummus cups at Costco but you can also put a little hummus in a small container and pack it)
- Pirates Booty
- Fruit Leathers (I get the Stretch Island Organic ones in bulk at Costco)
- Veggie Straws – do they count as veggies…no do not let yourself think that. FYI-Veggie Straw brand is much saltier than some of the other brands that have created a version of this item
- Mini rice cakes
- Graham Crackers – if I’m at home I sometimes do this topped with peanut butter and honey
- A scoop of nut butter- my oldest loves having a scoop of peanut butter as a snack. We also sometimes let her top it with a few chocolate chips (the spoon only fits like 5-8 chocolate chips)
- Animal Crackers-I buy the Kirkland Organic Animal Crackers from Costco
- Peanut butter or cheese cracker sandwiches (love the ones from Trader Joe’s)
- Pickles or Green Olives-while high in salt this is a funto mix in at times
- Dried cereal in a bag
- Roasted Chickpeas. Have you ever made these? So good! My kids love when I roast them with olive oil, salt and pepper. If you want a recipe email me or look at it on pinterest. Super easy and easy to pack
- Applesauce- My 2nd and 3rd love them and I love that they can stay in my bag as a backup option
- No Bake Granola Bites – my second loves when I make these (recipe on my website)
- Homemade mini muffins or bars – my kids aren’t big into bars and don’t eat muffins often but I have friends who make healthy homemade options and their kids devour them
Additional Snack Ideas if Home
- 1/2 English Muffin with nut butter or PB&J on it
- Chips and fresh mild salsa- great way to get veggie intake. My kids use the chips as a spoon to eat the salsa
- Chips and guacamole
- Homemade smoothie