It can be a struggle to find the balance between meal planning for dinner foods and on top of that, you have to figure out what your kids will actually eat for snacks and lunch too.
Trying to keep things healthy can also be a struggle if you have a super picky eater on your hands.
My boys, ages 3 and 5, like to snack all day long. We do have 3 meals per day, and they eat well during those meals, but they do tend to go for the snacks a lot throughout the day. I regulate the number of snacks, of course, they do not go overboard. If I let them eat whenever all my meal planning efforts would go out the window.
So how do I make it healthy and easy to feed my growing boys?
I meal plan my snacks, lunches, and dinners before a big grocery shop!
How many snacks should a child have per day
According to the Academy Of Nutrition and Dietetics, younger children only need 2 snacks per day, whereas older children can survive on one snack per day.
While that sounds like a dream snacking schedule, it is not feasible at our home, and I’m sure many others too.
I have active boys, they are always running, jumping and playing hard. They burn so much energy throughout the day, they NEED their snacks.
On an average day, my boys each have 2 snacks before lunch, and 2 snacks before dinner and one bedtime snack. That is 5 snacks per day.
For 2 kids, that is 10 snacks per day that I need to meal plan for. 10 different snacks every day can be challenging to plan for, especially when I try to include some snack type food items within their lunches as well such as crackers and string cheese.
By the way, my kids may have 5 snacks and 3 meals per day, but they are in no way overweight. They are very healthy little people, right on target with their weight to height ratios.
Why Are Snacks Important
Snacking is important because kids burn energy fast. They need nutritious food to support their growing bodies and developing brains. It is recommended that children have at least 2 snacks per day for optimal development.
Not all types of snacks are important though, chips from the vending machine followed by a can of pop aren’t doing anyone any good. Sugary snacks are the type of snacks that are leading to childhood obesity and as well as poor dental hygiene. Here is a guide for how much sugar is in children's snacks.
When I meal plan snacks for my family, I include a variety of options ranging from fruits, veggies, and healthier pantry snacks. We do include a few sugary snacks but mostly momma gets to enjoy those after bedtime. Since my kids also have a bedtime routine that includes a snack, I have to ensure their bedtime snack contains very little sugar to avoid extra bedtime battles.
Examples Of Healthy Snacks
Control your child’s hunger and fuel nutrition by providing a variety of snacks. I find when the choice for an unhealthy snack is not around, children will gladly eat a healthy snack. Sometimes I like to make snacks at home, not only does it make for a great activity to keep your children busy indoors when you can’t go outside, but also your child can appreciate all the effort that went into that snack and will happily eat it.
I try to switch up the snacks that we have in our home every few weeks to keep things interesting, but with 5 daily snacks already, it can be tough to get creative for new snack ideas.
Here are some of our basic snacks:
- Frozen Berries
- Apple Slices
- Carrot Sticks
- Yogurt Cup
- Frozen Yogurt Dots
- Apple Sauce (sometimes homemade)
- Cheese String or Cubed Cheese
- Cheese Crackers
- Granola Bars (Nature Valley)
- Fresh Berries (Strawberries and Blueberries are favorite)
- Fresh Grapes
- Frozen Grapes
- Banana Bread Bear Paws
- Goldfish Crackers
- Oatmeal (Great for a bedtime snack!)
- Sugar Filled Cereal (Lucky Charms or Cinamon Toast Crunch) ((Super Occasional))
- Chocolate Pudding Cups
- Arrowroot Cookies
- Shut The Hell Up Fruit Snacks
- Yogurt Parfait (yogurt, granola, and berries in a bowl)
- Banana Muffins
- Oatmeal Cookies
That is pretty much my snack list, and every single grocery shop I add all of these to my list. It’s not an outrageous list, and most of these are healthy snacks. Also, most of these snacks are great for out of the house snacking too. How simple it is to throw some crackers and cheese into some reusable snack bags like these (LOVE those patterns)
Overall, these yummy snacks will keep your child satisfied at school and at home and contribute to overall nutrition.
If my children happen to not eat any dinner (rarely) after a full day of snacking, I don’t worry about it too much. Raising kids is really hard work and sometimes I’m happy that they ate something rather than nothing all day long.
I can rest easy knowing that the snacks were consumed during the day were high quality and healthy.
Do you have kids who snack all day long? How many snacks do they eat per day? Is there anything that is not on my snack list that you have in your snack rotation? I want to hear about it, leave me a comment!