Healthy snack ideas for school lunch boxes

By Linda Folken, MS, RDN, CSOWM, CDN, ACE-CHC

It’s the back-to-school season, which means it’s the perfect time to think about healthy snack ideas to pack in the kids’ school lunch boxes.

There are many so-called healthful packaged snacks for children on the market. Which snacks would dietitians recommend parents buy for their children?

According to the USDA, the largest overall share of new products introduced into the food categories of the marketplace recently has been snacks, second only to beverages. This rapidly evolving snack market makes it even more important to stay abreast of guidelines on how to pick healthy new snacks being offered.

Wading through some of the confusion, it is important to note that although snack manufacturers may use such claims as “low-fat’, “non-GMO,’ and ‘natural’ on food products that it doesn’t necessarily mean the snacks are healthy or appropriate for children. It’s important for parents to know that snacks should include nutrients that children need for proper growth and development, with a focus on Vitamin D, fiber, calcium, and potassium.

Healthy Snack Options

Snacks for children should be tasty, have a nice texture and come in small pieces for smaller hands. They should provide nutrients but also be easy to chew in order to reduce the risk of choking.

The following are four kid-friendly snack options that meet these criteria and are sold in nearby supermarkets or online.

  1. Fruit packs – whole fruit packaged in individual servings
  2. Yogurt – an excellent snack for kids because it’s a good source of protein and calcium
  3. Raisin snack packs – Raisins contain a decent amount of iron, a nutrient that many children don’t get enough of, and which is needed to transport oxygen throughout your body
  4. Natures Bakery Fig Bars – a good snack because they contain protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals

Bonus: Trail mix packs – (if your child is not allergic to nuts) for a healthier version select mixes that contain nuts, dried fruit, and whole-grain cereal instead of those containing chocolate or candy.


The bottom line

Eating in between meals commonly occurs among many kids.

A healthy snack can provide your kids with energy and help them to get all the nutrients they need each day.

Try to offer kids whole, unprocessed foods at snack time instead of processed snack foods.

Linda Folken, MS, RDN, CSOWM, CDN, ACE-CHC has practiced in the healthcare field as a registered dietitian nutritionist for 30 years. She specializes in Bariatric and Medical Weight Management.