What to pack a brand new kindergartener for snacks?So I now have a kindergartener. This is shocking to me, because I feel like I was bouncing my first newborn yesterday. I continue to tell people that my daughter “just turned five” although it’s been three months now. Technically, she’s five and a quarter. Personally, I prefer four and 15/12ths.
My girl goes to morning kindergarten and afternoon enrichment while I work asefficientlyashumanlypossible. Because she’s there until 3:30, in addition to lunch—we’re alternating between school lunch and packing, depending on the daily menu—her teachers request that you include a water bottle and two snacks in your kid’s backpack, one for morning, one for afternoon.
At first, we’d toss in a mini-bag of goldfish, a baggie of pretzels, a NutriGrain bar, an individual pack of Fig Newtons—you get the idea. But after about a week or two of this, it hit me. All of the snacks I’m packing are heavily processed. And can you say carbo load?
I know there are worse things to eat than the above, but I’m now trying to provide healthy snacks that 1) she will eat 2) don’t need to be refrigerated, and 3) do not have an ingredients list that looks like a science experiment. We already eat a lot of these things at home, so it was just reframing my mindset on what is a good school snack. Here are a few favorites I’ve come up with:
- Justin’s Nut Butter squeeze packs – I love Justin’s Nut Butters, and they offer them in 80-calorie squeeze packs that are perfect for school snacks. I loooove the honey almond butter. Did I mention Justin’s is based in Boulder?
- Mashups Squeezable Fruit – I often pick up Peter Rabbit Organics fruit snacks for my kids anytime I hit a Starbucks, but once I discovered Mashups at King Soopers (and SuperTarget), I was thrilled to be able to buy them in four-packs at a better price. My kids love strawberry banana. Didn’t have great luck selling Carroty Chop, but maybe you will. These things are tasty. And organic. And straight-up fruit.
- Edamame – Not sure if this is true for all parents, but for some reason, my kids really like edamame and have since they could chew. Put the frozen ones in a tiny Tupperware container and they will definitely defrost by snack time.
- Nuts – I never thought my kids would dig nuts until I started offering them. My girl prefers the roasted kind, but my boy will chow on raw almonds.
- Grammy Sammys – These are made by Revolution Foods, the same company that makes Mashups. They’re graham sandwiches filled with yogurt. And they’re gooood.
- FruitaBu Smoooshed Fruit Rolls – These are fruit rollups, but they’re made of just fruit. What a concept! I love them, and of course, I also love their Stretch Island Fruit Strips, which I often eat as a snack.
- Mix1 Protein shakes – My husband and I are hooked on these. They sell them in King Soopers. I am waiting patiently for the day they sell them in 6-ounce sizes, but my kids can down the regular 11-ounce size easily. A great lunchtime snack, made with whey protein, antioxidants, lots of vitamins and minerals. And they’re based out of Boulder!
- Annie’s Organic fruit snacks – These are made from juice concentrate, are certified organic, and they’re shaped like bunnies. And bonus for any celiacs—they’re gluten free.
- Granola – I haven’t tried this yet, but I want to because my girl likes granola. I’m more concerned about how she’ll eat it as she’s running out to the playground, because hey—she’s four and 15/12ths, and the handful-of-loose-food-to-mouth concept is still one we need to master. But there are so many fabulous granolas out there, it’s hard to pick. I like Bear Naked, Denver’s own Love Grown, and Boulder’s own Boulder Granola.
- Raisins – Yeah, raisins. Duh, I know! For some reason, my kids like the Sun-Maid Golden Raisins a lot more than the regular kind (wish they came in those little boxes, though). We also love the Vanilla Yogurt ones (which DO come in the small boxes).
- Dehydrated soybeans – I really love the wasabi covered soybeans I buy at my local Sprouts, but they’re too spicy for my kids. The regular ones are still pretty tasty, though, and my little guy calls them “green chips,” as in, “Mama, can I have more of those green chips?” Yes you can, buddy.
- Dried fruit – Just go to Sprouts and hit the bulk section. There are a million options. Apples, mangoes, and fruits I never would have thought to dehydrate. Veggies, too, but I’m not sure I can sell that at my house. Baby steps.
This is a working list, so if you have suggestions or ideas for healthy snacks that kids will eat, I’m all ears!
Michaele Charles is a freelance writer and a children’s writer living in Centennial, Colorado. She is the founder of Voice Communications, which serves colleges and universities, marketing and creative agencies, small businesses, and corporate clients around the country with their writing needs. She has an Inspiring Kids blog on her personal website, www.michaelecharles.com, and blogs for Front Range Community College. When she’s not writing, she’s hanging out with her two kiddos and husband.