Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Snack Hacks: Healthy snacking to save you time and money

From growth spurts to picky eaters to busy schedules, it’s hard to raise children without a stockpile of ready-to-go snacks. Here are a few snack hacks that will save you time, money, and most important, give those growing bodies the right kind of fuel.

Homemade snack packs: Start by making a grocery list before you get to the store, and try not to go shopping on an empty stomach. Don’t be afraid to grab the big bags of snacks, they are usually cheaper and you can divide them later. Don’t forget to make a run down the Tupperware section and grab some snack baggies, sandwich zip-lock bags, and very small Tupperware (for dipping sauces).

Now, let’s take all of those fruits and veggies you got and wash them. Check out the University of Michigan’s SafeFood Handling Guide. Grab anything that can be peeled and cut up without going bad right away and start preparing those. Divide those up into snack size portions and store in zip-lock bags. Do the same with your dry snacks like pretzels and crackers. This will make it so you can literally grab the snack and go.

A Place just for Snacks: I like to dedicate a drawer in my refrigerator and a section in my pantry just for approved snacks that my kids can grab themselves. After I started doing that when I first had toddlers, it saved me hours and hours of, “I’m hungry. I need a snack.” And they learned to grab it themselves. Of course, I do have to set limits to one a day for the favorites like applesauce or strawberries.

Treats versus Snacks: Don’t stress about it if you want a treat now and again. I still buy chips and cookies, and I also divide those up into single serving packs; just smaller servings and I put them in a separate section, usually out of sight and not near our normal snack box. Don’t be afraid to mix things up and try something new once in a while. I have a 3-year-old that loves cottage cheese, eggs, and avocado. Play around with different foods and find a new family favorite!

Here are a few snack ideas to get the ball rolling.
Veggie bags: cucumber, snap peas, cherry tomatoes, and baby carrots (add a small Tupperware of ranch dressing or hummus pack for dipping)
Veggie snack bag

Peanut butter and celery (I have a small stock of already measured peanut butter servings just for this purpose. I still use a snack bag for the peanut butter and snip or bite an end off to squeeze onto the celery which makes for a great travel snack)

Toddler trail mix: gold fish crackers, small pretzels, animal crackers

Yogurt and granola
Greek yogurt, honey and fruit

Trail mix: unsalted mixed nuts, white chocolate chips, and Craisins

Pretzels and peanut butter

Hardboiled eggs and cottage cheese
Cottage cheese and veggie chips

Example Grocery List for Healthy Snacking
Baby carrots
Granola bars
String cheese
Unsalted nuts
Snap peas
Cottage cheese
Plain popcorn
Goldfish crackers
Peanut butter
Animal crackers
Apple chips
Cherry tomatoes
Apple sauce pouches
Fruit cups
Veggie chips

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