If you child is in kindergarten or if you have a child starting full-time kindergarten in a few days, you know that there will be two nutrition breaks in addition to a lunch break, scheduled during the school day. You will need to provide your child two snacks per day. Some schools provide one snack through the school’s nutritious snack program, and in that case you would only need to provide one snack. The nutrition breaks allows your young child’s nutritional needs to be met. It is important to provide healthy snacks so that your child can grow, learn, play, and make the most of each school day.
Although us adults relate carbs to weight gain, children need plenty of carbs for normal growth and development and to sustain energy. Healthy, complex carbs can be found in the form of whole grain foods, fruits, vegetables and dairy. When I pack snacks, I always include at least two, but mostly three of the four food groups. I pack a combination of fruits or veggies and a healthy choice of grains such as half a muffin or granola bar. Most times I also include a dairy product such as cheese, or a drinkable yogurt.
It is best to include three items, each from a different food group. Keep in mind that small portions will suffice as only ten to fifteen minutes will be allotted for nutrition breaks.
The following is a list of some snacks ideas, categorized by food group:
When choosing grains, look for items that are low in fat, sodium and refined sugars.
- stove-popped popcorn
- whole-wheat crackers (with cheese)
- granola bar
- slice of banana bread
- dry cereal
- mini muffin
- half a whole-wheat waffle
- oatmeal cookie
- half a jam sandwich (made with whole-wheat bread)
- breadsticks (with hummus or cream cheese)
- half of a whole-wheat pita bread (with hummus or bean dip)
- corn tortilla chips (with salsa)
Fruits & Veggies
- berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc.)
- clementine or orange wedges
- kiwi slices
- apple slices
- dried cranberries
- apple sauce
- fruit juice
- carrot sticks
- celery sticks
- bell pepper slices
- smoothie (in a flask)
- chocolate milk (in a flask)
- cream cheese (with toast or half a bagel)
- nuts (if allowed in school)
- hummus (with pita bread or breadsticks)
- bean dip (with pita bread or corn tortilla chips)
- If sending your child with milk, always pack it cold in a flask. Since the majority of flasks keep cold foods cold for up to 5 hours, it is probably not a good idea to pack milk for afternoon nutrition break as there may be a chance that it may go bad.
- Pack yogurt in a leak-proof container instead of packing a yogurt cup. Most schools are eco-friendly and any litter (wrappers, unfinished food, straws, etc.), will be sent back home with your child in his or her lunchbox.
- Pack nutrition break snacks in a separate lunch tote with an ice pack (to prevent foods from going bad or turning soggy) and label each snack box, 1 or 2, so that your child knows which snack to eat when.
- Pack fruits and veggies that you are certain your child will eat. Nothing is worse than your child returning home hungry with nearly-full snack boxes because he or she didn’t like what you sent.
- Avoid packing over-ripe fruits and sensitive fruits such as melons, as they tend to turn mushy or go bad more quickly.
- If you have a picky-eater, send a variety of fruits and veggies for him or her to munch on.
Here are some of my favourite brands:
- Happy Planet Organic Unchilled & Fresh Juices (no added sugar)
- Lakewood Organic Carrot Juice (no added sugar, cold pressed, and contains 18-20 carrots in each bottle)
- Santa Cruz Juices, Lemonade, & Juice Blends
- PC Organics Cranberry and Blueberry Blend
- Kettle Brand Popcorn
- Glutino Pretzels
- PC Organics Stoned Wheat Crackers (made with wheat flour, and cracked wheat)
- Blue Diamond Nut Thins (made of rice flour and almonds or pecans, contains 3g of protein per serving)
- PC Organics Yellow or Blue Corn Tortilla Chips
- Nature Path’s Frozen Waffles (whole grain waffles, with added flax seeds or chia seeds)
- Nature Path’s Envirokidz Granola Bars
- Crofters Jams and Superfood Spreads
- Arla Organic Cream Cheese
- iOGO Probio Yogurt
- PC Organics marble cheese
- Organic Valley Cheese
- PC Organics Mild Salsa
- Slammers Superfood Snack (each pouch contains at least one serving of fruits and veggies, no added sugar, no artificial ingredients)
A little extra:
I like to include a fun food pick in my children’s snack boxes. I find that it makes snack boxes and snack time a little bit more appealing to picky-eaters. The food picks below can be bought online from Cute Kid Stuff for $5.95 and from Bento USA for $3.95.
Best wishes to all the little ones starting kindergarten this year!