Can you believe that summer is nearly over? And you know what that means — it's almost time to send the kids back to school. Maybe you've got their school supplies stocked up, and the new sneakers picked out, but have you thought about how to send your children to school each day with something in their lunchbox that's not just healthy but also enticing enough that it won't make its way back home uneaten?
We're here to help. We've got 14 suggestions for school-day snacks that are inexpensive, easy to make, healthy...and fun enough that your kids won't try to trade it for something else.
Ants on a log: This one might make you feel nostalgic as you make it. Turns out this classic kindergarten snack isn't just fun, it's also healthy: celery is a source of potassium, peanut butter has protein, and raisins have fibre.
Carrot sticks and hummus: Make this crunchy snack — a great way to get some protein and vitamin A into their bellie — easy to transport and eat by putting the hummus at the bottom of a small jar and placing the carrot sticks in so they stand up. A great idea for a workday snack for you, too!
Smoothies: These are the perfect way to sneak in healthy ingredients like yogurt, greens, or chia seeds — Martha Stewart's site has some great recipes, but doing an online search for your favourite ingredient plus "smoothie" is sure to bring up tons of suggestion. Companies like Sili Squeeze and Yummi Pouch sell portable smoothie containers that are great for all ages, from toddlers and up. Just squeeze and enjoy!
Fruit: It's hard to beat simple, whole fruit as a snack — it's healthy, it's easy to transport, it requires zero prep, and it's inexpensive.
Bento box: Okay, maybe your creations won't be quite as stunning as these Japanese ones, but a bento box is still a great snack idea. You can make ingredients like rice balls en masse and use them throughout the week, and layer in other options like chopped meat (a way to repurpose leftovers!) and raw veggies.
Pita wheels: There are a million things you can do with this basic recipe: get a healthy pita (look for whole grains and fibre), spread it with your ingredients of choice (goat cheese and jelly, almond butter and chard, hummus and thinly sliced meat, anything you can come up with — just make sure you have a sticky layer), roll it up, and then chop it into fun wheels.
Roasted chickpeas: Here's a great option if your kids love chips — you can incorporate their favourite flavours, like salt and vinegar or chili, with a healthy ingredient like chickpeas, a source of fibre and protein. This basic recipe can be adjusted with your favourite herbs and spices.
Greek yogurt: Greek yogurt is all over the grocery aisles now, and it's a good thing — it's full of healthy bacteria that keep your gut humming along, and it's a great source of calcium. To avoid excess added sugars, look for plain yogurt, and add in your own mixers like berries or chopped pineapple.
Homemade trail mix: Trail mix can be a great snack, but packed mixes are often full of fat and added salt and sugar. Easy solution: make your own! Just pick the ingredients you'd like to have, mix through, and package into smaller containers to make it easy to grab and go.
Babybel: These cheese discs are easy to transport, fun to unwrap, and a great hit of calcium, filling fat and protein. They come in several different flavors so you can give your kids their favorite cheese.
Mini pizzas: Kids love pizza, but it can be greasy and covered in unhealthy toppings. An easy solution is to make your own — you can go lighter on the cheese, and heavier on the healthy stuff like greens and lean meats. Mini pitas or slider buns are a great way to make these mini, which also makes them more fun.
Baked pitas and dip: You can give the kids something crunchy without putting chips in the lunch bag. Crisp up some pitas in the oven—brush them with a bit of olive oil, maybe sprinkle with a bit of cumin for a kick. And pair it with a healthy dip or salsa — even homemade!
Parmesan popcorn: Popcorn is actually a whole grain, and it's a good way to get some fibre in your kids' bellies. And if you air pop it, it's low in calories, which means you can beef it up with some fresh parmesan and your kids' favourite herbs or spices.
Edamame: In Japan, edamame is a bar food — sprinkle with salt, pop them open, and enjoy. Much healthier than pretzels! They can be a fun snack for your kids too, one that provides them with some protein to help them get through the afternoon.