School Snacks: What to Pack and What to Skip
By Marissa Rodríguez
Depending on your child’s grade level, he or she may get to enjoy a snack during mid-afternoon. That’s great for little students, as healthy snacks can help satisfy those 2 pm hunger pangs. As all moms know, when kids get hungry they can become grumpy, tired and uncooperative – not great attitudes for learning. But the right snack can help fix satisfy little appetites, restore energy and even help them to focus. To help you know which snacks to pack and which to skip altogether, check out these tips.
Nuts: While nuts are usually an ideal snack (because they are low in sugar, contain good fats and have protein to help keep kids full and focused), they are not a great option for school. Because some students have severe nut allergies, some classrooms have banned nuts and nut products, like peanut butter, from snack time. Be sure you ask your child’s teacher if nuts are allowed before you consider packing them. If teacher isn’t sure, skip this snack to stay on the safe side.
Sugary Snacks: While fruit gummies and cookies are some of kids’ favorites, they do not make good options for school snack. If kids are getting tired from a long day and feel hungry, snacks loaded with sugar may just cause a sugar high, and then a sugar crash later on. The best bet is packing a snack that helps keep their sugar levels in balance.
Messy Snacks: Frosting, sprinkles or anything with liquid will end up all over the place. Keep your kid neat and your kid’s teacher happy by sending your child with a relatively easy-to-eat, dry snack.
Granola Bars: Some granola bars are high in sugar, but there are wonderful options that have reasonable or even low-levels of sugar while packing in nutritious goodies like seeds, coconut flakes, rice, oats, protein and fiber.
Dried Fruit: Dried fruit can be a wonderful, wholesome snack and a great no-mess option. Just be cautious with the fruits you choose, as some may be coated in sugar. No-sugar added banana chips, dried cranberries and dried plums are fabulous.
Crackers: Some crackers get a bad rap, and for good reason. Some crackers – often those marketed to children – are loaded with salt, sugar, fat and unnecessary food coloring. Look for those with whole grains, flax, fiber, good carbohydrates and that use natural better-for-you flavorings like sea salt and spices to gently flavor them. If all else fails, baked pita “chips” are another crunchy option that kids just might love.