Best tips for preparing quick and healthy snacks for your toddler

Sometimes, putting a healthy homemade meal or snack on the table is time-intensive – but it doesn’t have to be!

Contrary to what you might believe it is actually very easy to eat healthy and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Of course when you have kids you need a lot of time saving ideas for their healthy snacks.

Adding variety is the key to planning their menus and makes it easier and quicker. The foods you offer your child each day should include choices from all five food groups.

Meals and snacks should also include different choices within each food group. For example, offer different vegetables, especially dark-green leafy and deep-yellow ones, and fruits.

 How to plan and prepare healthy snacks for your kids?

healthy fruits for toddlers in a funny arangement

First of all children should be involved in picking their favorite healthy ingredients for their snacks as it makes them responsible for what they eat as well as making a contribution to the family’s mealtime tasks.

If they are old enough they may find it fun if they also get involved in preparing the snacks, cutting into funny shapes, layout of ingredients, etc.

Be label detectives and encourage your kids to be detectives themselves, when you go shopping always check the label for sugars and fat levels and pick up a variety of quick-to-fix food ingredients from each food group that we previously recommended.

If you are worried that healthy snacks take a long time to prepare, then we suggest that veggies can be washed and stored in the fridge so they will be ready to eat for snack time anytime the child wants. Also keeping low-fat dips at hand may encourage kids to eat raw veggies. 

Here are some suggestions that will help you cut down your snack preparation time:

 

plan-your-time-when-preparing-snacks

Plan Ahead

-          Each week sit down and plan your meals and snacks. Make a grocery list and buy everything in one trip.

Think big

-          Whether we are talking about regular meals or snacks, since you are going to cook or prepare something you should put the effort and make some for later on. If you plan ahead you have enough ingredients to prepare healthy snacks for your children for a day or two even. You can freeze them for later use and voila!

Use everything you’ve got

-          When you cook meals for your family there are always some ingredients left so why not use them for your kids’ healthy snacks. If you end up with extra chicken breast, fish fillets or vegetables from tonight’s dinner use them for sandwiches, wraps or salads tomorrow.

Use pre-washed and pre-cut veggies

-          We all know that most of the time we spend on preparing snacks is not the preparation in itself but preparing the ingredients for it. You can either buy a whole bunch of pre-cut vegetables which costs more and may also go bad if you do not use them all, buy the prepackaged ones, or wash and cut them yourself and estimate the quantity you will need for a week and store in your freezer.

 

Organize your kitchen

-          Keep your most used ingredients in easy-to-reach places. This way you will have easy access to everything you need to prepare your healthy breakfasts or lunches . Remember to clean up your kitchen and utensils while the meal or snack is cooking.

Concentrate on recipes with a specific time limit

-          Try out some recipes with a specific time limit and do your best to stick to that. It also helps if you put your recipes where you can see them, this helps you from wasting time researching on the internet and hunching over your cookbook. Decide on some easy to make snack recipes and use a magnet to attach them to your oven or fridge.

Get a garbage bowl

-          During the prep period, keep a large bowl at your side for scraps and garbage. It cuts down on trips to the trash bin and on leaning over.

These are only some tips that you can use to save time when preparing and planning your kids’ nutritious snacks.

Now let’s look at some tips for a well-stocked kitchen that will help you prepare your kids’ snacks fast and healthy. Be sure to keep your pantry and fridge stocked with healthy foods that are lower in sodium and fat.

Vegetables and fruit

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables – keep a colorful variety of fruit and vegetables at hand
  • Frozen vegetables (without sauce) – peas, carrots, leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.
  • Frozen fruit – berries, mango, etc.
  • Canned vegetables – choose and buy ones with less sodium and make sure you rinse them well with water.
  • Canned fruit (packed in juice not syrup) – pineapple, pears, peaches, apricots, mandarins, oranges, etc.
  • Dried fruit (without added sugar) – apples, raisins, figs, cranberries, dates, etc.

Grain products

  • Whole grains – pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, etc.
  • Whole grain bread – tortilla, buns, pita, sliced loaf.
  • Cereal – choose ones that are whole grain with at least 4 grams of fiber per serving

Milk and alternatives

  • Milk – low fat milk (skim, 1% or 2%) or fortified soy beverage
  • Yogurt – low fat yogurt 2% or less or Greek yogurt which has the double amount of protein
  • Cheese – less than 20% milk fat

 

Meat and alternatives – ideal for your kid’s lunch 

  • Canned or dry lentils and beans – rinse well to reduce the sodium
  • Canned fish (packed in water not oil) – salmon, sardines, tuna
  • Nuts and seeds (unsalted ones) – almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.
  • Hummus – used as dip or sandwich spread
  • Nut butters – choose natural ones without added salt or sugar
  • Eggs – hard boiled they can be kept in the fridge for up to one week.
  • Tofu – calcium-set tofu for bone-building benefits
  • Fish and shellfish – buy them plain
  • Ground beef, turkey or chicken – you can keep it for up to one month in the freezer and defrost overnight in the fridge
  • Meat and poultry – freeze in small portions for easy defrosting

Spices and other flavor boosters

  • Oil – canola, olive, vegetable
  • Herbs, spices and seasoning – basil, cayenne, paprika, oregano, balsamic vinegar, onion powder, ginger, garlic, nutmeg, rosemary, chili powder, cumin, curry powder, etc.
  • Condiments/ flavor enhancers – Dijon mustard, fresh salsa

Now having all these healthy easy snack ideas, you can start stocking up your pantry, fridge and freezer and start making some delicious healthy snacks for your children to savor at home or take to school.

By taking advantage of our planning and ingredient picking information you will turn snack time into fun time for your kids. Don’t forget that kids love color and variety so be sure to use your creativity when preparing their nutritious snacks.

But if you find yourself at a loss for healthy snack recipes, in our next article we will help you make snack time your kid’s favorite time with lots of creative ideas and recipes.

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