Updated: Mar 6
Life is slowly getting back to 'normal'. Yay! Kids are beginning to play sports again, and we're venturing out of our homes a little more than we were. It's time to start thinking about fueling our little athletes and hungry kids, on-the-go, again!
Have you ever been driving your child from one thing to the next, worrying if they will have the energy to power through, and perform their best? Or getting stuck in traffic on the way home from school or daycare, and the kids are complaining they're hungry?
Quick snacks are essential for families on-the-go. Whether it’s on the way to hockey practice, or while watching a sibling play soccer, having healthy snacks ready to go makes life easier and more enjoyable for everyone. Snacks give us a burst of energy and sustain us until the next mealtime. I always keep ‘emergency’ snacks like granola bars, nuts or fruit, in my purse or my vehicle for those times when my kids and I get hangry, and can’t wait for the next meal. Sometimes a quick pick me up is all you need!
Try keeping some of these healthy, no-cook quick and easy snacks on hand the next time you you're on-the-go. Consider combining a couple choices for those hungrier days!
Ready to eat vegetables
Some days we have time and energy to prepare fresh vegetables like washing and chopping carrots, peppers, cucumbers. But on days when you need to pull something together quickly, ready to eat vegetables can be a lifesaver.
Mini carrots, snap peas, cherry tomatoes and mini cucumbers are my favorites! They can easily be thrown into a container and taken with you to enjoy in the vehicle or on the sidelines! What ready to eat vegetables does your family like?
One of the all-time best ‘fast food’ snacks is fresh fruit. It comes conveniently in its own natural packaging. No preparation needed!
Small, easy to peel oranges, apples, bananas, pears or even berries are great to keep on hand. If a fresh piece of fruit is what's available when kids are hungry, they are more likely to decide to eat it.
Whole grain crackers or tortilla chips
All crackers and tortilla chips are not created equal. Next time you’re at the store, take a look at the ingredient list for the word ‘whole’. Try to choose a package where the first ingredient says it’s a ‘whole’ grain.
While all crackers and tortilla chips will provide energy, they do not all provide the benefits of whole grains and fiber. Either way, these snacks are easily transported and the carbs will give kids a quick boost of energy. Combine it with some protein like cheese or peanut butter to satisfy a hungry child!
Unsweetened, whole grain breakfast cereal
Since my kids were very small, this has been a go-to snack in my house. What mom doesn’t have a container of Cheerios in her purse for her toddler? Whole grain cereal can provide the energy your kids need to get through their practice or game.
While dry cereal is great for when you’re out, cereal with milk is super quick when rushing out the door to an activity or when you arrive home late after an event with a hungry child. Protein from the milk and fiber from the cereal is a sustaining combination and makes a great bedtime snack.
Popcorn is a whole grain, and a fantastic snack!
Most flavoured varieties you buy at the store tend to have a significant amount of added fat, salt, and/or sugar. The good news it that it is super simple to make your own!
Did you know you can make air popped popcorn in your microwave with just a paper bag, and some kernels? Even young kids can figure it out.
Easy air-popped microwave popcorn: pour 1/4 cup of plain popcorn kernels into a brown paper lunch bag. Fold over the opening of the bag a couple times. Lay flat sideways in your microwave. Microwave for approximately 1 1/2 minutes (your microwave may take more or less time - listen for the kernels to stop popping then remove immediately). Add your favourite seasonings and enjoy!
Packaged cheese sticks
You will be happy to know that packaged cheese sticks are ‘real’ cheese! There are many different varieties available. These make great snacks because they provide protein and fat which will help to keep you (or your kids) feeling full longer. Combine it with some carbs like whole grain crackers and this snack will buy you at least an hour to figure out what's for dinner.
Yogurt in a tube or drinkable yogurt
The ultimate transportable snack. Yes…flavored yogurt does have some added sugar and (of course) mixing it with a plain yogurt may be healthier, but for times when you’re on-the-go or in a rush, these can make a great quick snack! Let’s be honest…how many kids would eat a bowl of plain yogurt anyway! Yogurt in a tube and drinkable yogurt is ‘real’ yogurt and a good source of calcium and protein.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts are one of those ‘emergency’ snacks that I always keep in my vehicle for those times when hunger hits. I absolutely love roasted almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and peanuts (peanuts are technically not a nut!). A small handful of nuts or seeds is all you need. It contains a generous helping of healthy fats and protein.
I have been making my own roasted chickpeas at home for a long time, but they are now readily available in stores. Roast chickpeas provide a winning combination of carbs, protein and fat. This is a great snack for families on the go. Note: roasted chickpeas can be a choking hazard for children under 4.
Note about beverages
Contrary to popular belief, children generally do not require sports drinks to re-hydrate after playing a sport. These drinks were originally created for high-performing athletes who sustain many hours of continuous, and strenuous exercise. These drinks contain a significant amount unnecessary added sugar. Once in a while, as a treat, it's okay, but should not become regular practice. Unless your child is training for hours at a time, during or after a practice or game, water will do just fine to re-hydrate your little athlete.
Next time you're rushing out the door, wondering when you're going to have time to make dinner, grab one or two of these quick snacks for your kids (and maybe for yourself too!). It'll give them the energy they need, easy your worry, and buy you some time to get dinner figured out!
Need some easy lunch ideas too? Click the image below.
By Janine LaForte, RD
REAL LIFE NUTRITION