For children, summer may still be in full swing, but for parents and teachers the return to school is looming closer every day. With school beginning soon, many moms are already dreading the days of sending snacks and lunches with their children to school each day. Before we know it we are stuck in a rut of always packing the same foods and our children are requesting to buy lunch at school. While giving your child a plastic pouch of prepackaged snacks may sound appealing to simplify life, one look at the ingredient list will send your head spinning.
The reality is that we need to feed our children’s bodies to fuel their brains for optimum learning. Processed foods with preservatives and excessive sugar can drain their energy, lower their immune systems, and even cause allergy like symptoms. Healthy snacks do not have to be complicated or time consuming. By making your own healthy snacks, versus buying them pre-packaged, you will also save money! Try out these healthy snacks on your children this school year and they will likely be begging for a repeat performance.
Oatmeal is an excellent source of whole grains, fiber, and nutrients. A small thermos can keep oatmeal warm until snack time. If your child enjoys oatmeal for breakfast, they will enjoy it for snack. Instead of using packaged oatmeal, you will save money by making a large batch of oatmeal at the beginning of the week to eat for breakfast or snacks. Add a dab of maple syrup or honey, chopped walnuts, and a few raisins.
2. Half a sandwich
Sandwiches are the obvious option for lunch time, but a small sandwich makes a great snack. A slice of bread with peanut butter and banana or turkey and cheese will provide both whole grains and some protein to fuel your child between meals.
3. Tortilla roll up
A twist on sending a sandwich for a snack is to send a whole wheat tortilla that has been spread with hummus or peanut butter and jelly and rolled up. You can cut it into bite sized pieces to make pinwheels for fun!
4. Homemade trail mix
Let your child help you create a homemade trail mix of their favorite healthy items. Begin by letting them choose a whole grain, low sugar cereal. Then choose one or two dried fruits, such as raisins, currants, dried pineapple, or apples. Finally add nuts and seeds, such as cashews, almonds, and sunflower seeds. Make sure to pack an appropriate serving, as nuts and dried fruit are calorie dense foods.
5. Yogurt with granola
Whether your child eats dairy or soy yogurt, it can be a treat when eaten with granola. Freeze the yogurt if it is intended to be an afternoon snack, because it will have time to thaw during the day without getting too warm. If it is a morning snack, make sure to include an ice pack to keep it cold. Include a small bag of granola, whether store bought or homemade, and a spoon.
Kathryn Thompson is a health expert and mother of three. She likes to write about nutrition, health, and exercise and recently wrote about the nutrition in sunflower kernels.