As a child I remember not being able to eat in my parents' cars. We lived in a small town so it only took a few minutes to get around. Plus, I don't think we were as fully scheduled as kids and families are today, so our time in the car was minimal. Well times have changed, and I'm sure my mom cringes when she gets in my car and sees all the food debris. The older my kids get the more time we spend in the car eating snacks and meals in between activities.
As a mom it didn't take long for me to realize what a large role snacking plays in our lives. Without snacks in between meals my kids quickly turn cranky and irritable. It is recommended that children have at least 2 snacks a day between meals. Nutritious snacks help provide much needed nutrients often low in children, calcium, vitamin D, fiber, and potassium. Snacks help children learn and behave better.
With some pre-planning healthy snacking can be convenient, tasty, and easy. Here are 5 simple steps to successful snacking on the go:
- Involve your kids in selecting and preparing healthy snacks. Letting them be involved in a simple task such as sprinkle granola on yogurt or picking out what color of apple they want to eat will significantly increase the likelihood that they will eat it.
- Take time one day a week to prep and divide food into snack size portions. Use baggies, cups, or re-usable plastic containers to make the snacks easy to grab and go. This also helps children learn appropriate portion sizes.
- Choose snacks that contain 2-3 of the 5 different food groups: Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Protein, and Dairy. Some of my favorite kid approved grab and go snacks that contain 2-3 different food groups:
- Trail Mixes: Mix together dried fruit, cereal, and nuts
- Granola Bar and Milk
- Fruit Smoothies: Blend together fruit (frozen, canned or fresh), yogurt and milk or fruit juice
- Tortilla Wraps: Spread refried beans and cheese on a tortilla
- Peanut butter on apples, pears or celery
- Cheese sticks and whole grain crackers
- Use snacks to improve your child's overall diet. Snacks can be thought of as mini meals that provide nutrients to help your children grow and thrive. Try to limit foods that provide only empty calories and little nutrients such as chips and pop.
- Search out more helpful snacking ideas on the web. I often wonder what I did before Pinterest to come up with snack and meal ideas for my family. Although, snacking doesn't have to complicated or creative to be healthy and tasty.
Check out these fun and simple snack recipes from UNL Extension:
Carrie Miller, MS, RDUNL Extension Educator