The Best Snacks to Fill Up Hungry Kid Belliesby Elizabeth MacDonald
A crazy thing has happened in the last few months (well more than one crazy thing), grocery budgets have been thrown out of the window in homes everywhere. It seems that those of us with children (from toddlers to teens) are being eaten out of house and home. As kids across the country are spending more time at home than ever before in their lives, refrigerators and pantries are looking bare within hours of groceries being purchased.
It’s ok to admit that we (as parents) have let go in many ways of our typical routines - including meal planning and healthy eating at all meals. This time at home inspired so many to start cooking wonderful things in the kitchen, but those with bottomless pits to feed may be in need of some help right now.
The key is to stop purchasing all of the ‘junk’ and keep healthy fats and proteins on hand - prepped and ready to grab. This may seem tedious, but if you spend just a few hours after shopping getting everything set up, you’ll keep your sanity and have an answer when you hear, “Mom, I’m hungry - what can I eat?”
Let’s not get too crazy, pretzels and chips still have their place here and there, but the following food ideas will help keep your kids (and yourself) much fuller throughout the endless days of summer and beyond.
The Best Snacks to Fill Up Hungry Kid Bellies
Top Your Fruits and Veggies
All fresh fruits and veggies can be made a bit more filling by adding healthy toppings such as almond or peanut butter, a slice of cheese, hummus, tzatziki, guacamole, or even fresh salsa. Picky eaters may want to dip instead of having it spread on top, but dipping can be fun too! Who doesn’t love a banana with peanut butter or a crunchy apple slice with a piece of Munster cheese on it?
Meat and Seafood
Bring on the meat! Organic, high-quality meat will fill a belly better than anything else. You can have uncured meat sliced in the deli for easy roll-ups and wraps or use your grill, oven, or stovetop one afternoon to prep chicken strips, meatballs, shrimp, even steak bites.
Eggs and Nuts
Hard-boiled, scrambled, fried, it doesn’t matter how you cook those eggs, but eat them! Get that protein in! Make egg muffins and breakfast burritos to freeze. For the nuts, be careful with the choking hazard, but enjoy them with your kids as a great and filling snack.
Mix and Match Granola
Granola bars work but set out bowls of granola mixings (oats, seeds, dried fruits, etc). Let them help toast the ingredients that need to be baked first, give everyone their own containers, mix and match, and done! (Make your own or buy organic, whole milk yogurt to really fill the bellies up with the granola!)
Plain Old Veggies
Edamame, cucumbers, snap peas, sautéed asparagus, green beans, roasted cauliflower, the list goes on. It only takes 4-5 minutes tops for veggies to reach the perfect combination of crunch and doneness.
Fresh Fruit (and Dried Fruit)
Spend a few minutes washing your fruit and cutting stems, slicing melons, and portioning for the week. Dried fruit has a much higher sugar content than fresh options, so watch out - but it’s better than junk food!
Smoothies and Popsicles
Smoothies are easy and healthy! You can turn leftovers into homemade popsicles, too. However, there are plenty of natural popsicle options at the store, too!
Protein waffles packed with peanut butter make a delicious snack.
Skip the juices and make sure your kids (and you!!) are taking in enough water. Hours of playtime in the sun mean extra water consumption is needed. Kids often do not ask for enough water, which will leave them feeling much hungrier than they actually are!
Remember that kids generally like to eat things they help make. Include your kids in the kitchen whenever possible or start a garden and have them come up with recipe ideas!