For parents, snack time can be tricky. Grocery store shelves are stocked with junk food, and picky eaters can be tough to please.
“No one wants snacks ending up in the trash,” says Kate Geagan, a registered dietitian and mother of two children, ages 10 and 12.
One common mistake is not thinking of snacks you give to kids as “mini-meals,” Geagan says. Adopt this mindset and suddenly the quality goes up.
Portion control is also key. “The size of a snack is about what fits in the palm of your hand,” she says.
Another tip: look for protein and fiber to keep your child's blood sugar and energy levels stable. Also, stay away from labels with ingredients you can't pronounce.
"(Buy) something that sounds like it could be crafted in your kitchen,” Geagan says.
“You want to try and use as many whole foods and ingredients as possible,” adds Allison Wood, a nutritionist and dietitian at Wise Apple, a kid-friendly meal delivery service.
For fussy eaters, try inviting kids to choose their own snacks, such as a build-your-own trail mix. Or, make a “snack box” together, for the fridge or cupboard.
“You’re not micromanaging snack time, but you’re agreeing with what goes in the box,” says Geagan.
Wood agrees. “Kids are more likely to take ownership of their choices and actually eat that food,” she says.
Here are six inexpensive snacks that you can feel good about serving to your kids.
TERRA Sweet Potato Chips, No Salt Added, $19 (pack of 24), Amazon
Wood's a big fan of sweet potatoes. These days, you can find them in brownies, crackers, chips and more. These Terra vegetable chips (free of salt and cholesterol) are perfect to tuck into at lunch or after school. “Try to get as many nutrients as you can into one bite,” she says.
Hidden Valley Greek Yogurt Dips Mix, Original Ranch, $4, Amazon
Greek yogurt can go way beyond breakfast. Chefs often use it in place of sour cream in pursuit of a healthier dish. “It provides a good source of protein,” says Wood. Scoop up this dip mix, stir in a little Greek yogurt and enjoy it with baby carrots, chopped vegetables, pretzels or crackers.
Morlife Coconut Mango Chia Pudding, $4, Amazon
Think of this as an alternative to pudding cups. To make it, add water and refrigerate in a small bowl for 20 minutes. For kids with digestive issues, it’s a good source of fiber and contains omega-3 fatty acids. It’s also gluten-free.
Plum Kids Organic Fruit Mashups Mixed Berry, $3 (four pouches), Target
Does your kid not eat enough vegetables? Up his intake with these squeezable snacks that don’t require refrigeration. “All berries provide a lot of nutrients,” says Wood.
Stacy’s Cinnamon Sugar Flavored Baked Pita Chips, $2 (7.33 ounces), Amazon
Substitute a bag of potato chips for toasted pita chips like Stacy's cinnamon-sugar chips. No need to add a dip — there’s plenty of flavor already.
Go Raw Freeland Pizza Flax Snax, $5 (3-ounce bag), Amazon
Sprouted seeds are hot at the moment, Geagan says. Look for them in breads, crackers and more. With these pizza-flavored bites, which contain no sugar or flour, kids will focus on the pizza, not the seeds.