Puzzled about how to come up with healthy snacks for your youngsters? Try these ideas:
■ Keep a variety of fruit in the house. Go for kid favorites like bananas, apples, and oranges, but also encourage your children to sample less-familiar produce, perhaps mangoes, kiwis, papayas, or blackberries. Tip: Look for fruit that’s in season or on sale to keep costs down.
■ Raw vegetables make great snacks. Offer green beans or baby carrots with a dip of low-fat ranch dressing or guacamole.
■ Together, read food labels when you’re grocery shopping. Make a game of picking out nutritious snacks and drinks. Example: See who can find the granola bars with the least sugar or the salsa with the lowest sodium.
■ Look for healthier versions of snacks your youngsters like. For instance, get baked crackers, whole-wheat pretzels, and low-fat string cheese.
■ Store healthy snacks in your pantry or refrigerator at your children’s eye level. Your kids will see them first and be more apt to reach for them.
■ Put together snacks that combine two major nutrients. Serving a protein and a carbohydrate together—a turkey and cheese sandwich, for instance—will fill your kids up and give them energy. Add a drink (water, fat-free milk) to keep them hydrated.
■ Buy snacks like whole-grain cereal, nuts, and dried fruits in bulk to cut costs, and then package them in individual servings in zipper bags. Note: Show your children how to check the nutrition label to find the size of one serving. It’s often not the whole bag or box!
■ Take along healthy snacks when you go out. You’ll avoid stopping for fast food or buying junk food from snack bars or vending machines when your youngsters are hungry.
■ Let your children pitch in and help prepare their own snacks. Steer them toward healthier choices, and watch as they happily eat what they’ve made!