So often we’re running late in the morning and need to be able to grab a convenient packaged good to toss into our child’s lunchbox. Although there are a zillion packaged snacks to be found on grocery shelves, most of these are high in sugar, higher in fat, and lacking in the most important element: real, nutritional value. That's why you should always keep a stock of healthy snacks on hand for just such early morning rushes. If you can’t find nutritionally solid packaged snacks, spend a half hour per week prepping some bulk snacks by pouring them into little baggies and store these in a plastic bin in the pantry for quick access.
We asked The Sneaky Chef, our resident healthy and delicious food expert, to give us her top picks for healthy, store-bought snacks for kids (and parents!). So, without further ado, here are The Sneaky Chef’s favorite store-bought snack foods for lunch boxes – they've got more nutrients than traditional snacks, and they've got more “staying” power to keep kids full longer at school – not to mention, they've got kid-appeal!
- Dark chocolate-covered raisins or almonds
- Honey roasted cashews or almonds
- Trail mix
- Popcorn -- ideally home-made (or buy the almost naked kind in the bag)
- Whole grain Fig Newtons
- Whole grain crackers with squeeze peanut butter or string cheese
- Whole wheat pretzels
- Organic yogurt tubes (freeze them)
- Mandarin oranges or peaches in plastic tub
- Whole grain tortilla chips
- Applesauce tubes (freeze them)
- Baby carrots with dressing
- Banana, apple, or pear
- Cheese stick (part-skim) or individually wrapped cheese squares (with ice pack)
With this arsenal of easy and healthy store-bought snacks in your pantry, you can feel good about that snack you stuff into your kid's lunch box last minute. Not only are these snacks parent and kid approved, but they're a great way to instill healthy eating (and snacking) habits in your child.
Looking for more great lunch ideas for your child? Check out our healthy lunchbox must-haves that seem sinful!
Missy Chase Lapine is the former publisher of Eating Well magazine. A mother of two young daughters, she knows how picky kids can be—and she’s got the kitchen experiments to prove it! She is on the Culinary Arts facility of The New School, in New York City, and also gives cooking classes and coaching to busy families hoping to learn how to eat healthier. Her books, The Sneaky Chef, and The Sneaky Chef: How to Cheat on Your Man (In the Kitchen) are published by Running Press. You can learn more about Missy at her website, www.thesneakychef.com