Feeding children snacks on a daily basis is a really big challenge. When they are home from school they seem to always be in the kitchen asking you for something to eat. They can really drive you nuts.
So what is a busy parent to do? First, you want to feed them something healthy. Secondly, you want to feed them something that they like. Finally it can't be too expensive.
Healthy snacks, especially ones that aren't in packages, aren't hard to find. You just need to be organized and a little creative. Here are five tips to help you choose well:
- Shop the perimeter of the supermarket. Since we are in Summer, it is easy to find peaches, plums, watermelon, cherries, and cantaloupe for a reasonable price. Yes, you will have to wash them off and cut them up, but any whole food that you choose will be much more healthy than anything you buy in a package. If you are lucky enough to have a Farmer's market near by, shop there for the best deals.
- If you only shop once a week, buy a collection of fruits and vegetables that you can serve immediately and some that you can serve later. For example, strawberries or peaches should be eaten right away, but you can store cantaloupe or watermelon for over a week (even cut up!). Keep canned pineapple on hand for when you run out of fresh fruit.
- Use dips. Kids love to dip. If you are feeding them carrots or broccoli, have a little cup of dressing for them to dip in. Hummus, yogurt, and peanut butter, are also good choices for dips.
- Make it a game for children to eat their snacks. Pretend the broccoli is a tree and everyone in the room is a dinosaur. Or fashion little faces out of apple slices, raisins, and add carrot sticks for the legs. Give them the raw ingredients and then let them "make" their snack.
- Read the label carefully of any packaged snack. Too often, the label will say "all natural" or "make with real fruit" and you think you are buying something healthy. A good indicator of whether it should be considered a healthy snack is if it contains high fructose corn syrup. If it does, that food item is more likely a treat than a healthy snack.