Promoting healthy eating habits for all meals and snacks will help kids eat right. Snacks are often the easiest, and hardest things, to plan, particularly if limited on time or picky eaters prevail home. Making sure the pantry is stocked with healthy snack choices will encourage kids to follow a healthy diet, eat a variety of foods, and allow them the freedom to make their own snack choices.
The ideas below revolve around creating bins to put snack choices in and then having a designated place to put the bins. Ideally, you would have space on a shelf in the pantry for snack bins as well as a drawer (or section) in the refrigerator. It should be a shelf in the pantry where all kids can access with relative ease. This will let the kids know where to go to find snacks and offer a variety of snacks. You can choose what snacks to stock and the appropriate portion size of the snacks. The goal is to offer a variety of healthy snacks that span all the food groups and kids can choose how to pair their snacks (i.e. cheese and crackers or apple slices and nut butter packet). There are some great pictures of snack bins online and we have added some to our ShopWell Pinterest board (the image to the right is found here on Pinterest).
Here are some snack bin ideas to get you started.
- String cheese
- Snack bag filled with sliced fruit (think apples and pear slices)
- Snack bag filled with cleaned and prepped berries
- Snack bag filled with baby carrots/carrot wedges, bell pepper strips, or celery sticks
- Cheese cut into star shapes (aim for 1-2 ounces) in a snack bag
- Individual serving size hummus containers
- Hardboiled eggs
- Banana bread slices or zucchini muffins made with a whole grain flour (I put them in the refrigerated snack section in case the pantry gets too warm and the baked goods spoil faster, but really these baked goods don’t need refrigeration)
- Yogurt cups
- Snack bag filled with edamame (in the shells – it’s more fun that way)
Non-perishable Snacks For The Pantry
- Bananas or other fruits (uncut to prevent browning)
- Nut/Seed butter individual packets
- Snack bag filled with crackers or pretzels (aim for ones made with whole wheat and watch the serving size)
- Sandwich bag with 2 rice cakes
- Sandwich bag of popcorn – lightly salted and flavored works great
- Snack bag with ¼ cup of trail mix (if you are feeling adventuresome you can make your own by mixing and matching nuts, whole grain cereal, dried fruit, and a little something sweet)
- Granola bars – look for ones that have 80-120 calories per serving and > 2 grams of fiber
- Individual fruit cups packed in their own juice (not syrup)
- Snack bag filled with ¼ cup dried fruit
- Snack bag filled with ¼ cup of dry roasted nuts (pistachios in the shell are always fun to eat)