When a snack attack takes us by surprise, we rarely take the time an effort to search out a healthful, balanced option, so the first key to smart snacking is to plan ahead. Portability, produce, and low-prep time are just some of the things to keep in mind when choosing snacks for yourself and your family. Here are few other tips to consider that meet those three criteria.
Location, location, location. Think through your day and decide where to stock some handy snacks to help you avoid the same path to the drive-thru or vending machine. Some dried fruit, nuts, jerky or dry cereal in your desk at work, in your car’s glove box, or in a pocket of your backpack should contain at least a few non perishable snack items.
Know your audience. Whether you have grade schoolers or teenagers bursting through the door around 3:00, chances are they will be famished. And while cheese sticks, almonds and grapes sound like a picture perfect snack, your kids may have other ideas. And regardless of how ideal the nutrition content of a snack may be, if it doesn’t go in their mouth, it is a moot point. So look at the foods they currently eat, choose, or buy for themselves and find ways to up the nutrition. One example is Cup Noodle – a common teen snack go-to now has a new veggie version with a full serving of veggies per container/serving. They recently reformulated their recipe so that it now has sodium below 50% daily value, no artificial flavors and no added msg. (#sponsored) When my kids started driving and bringing home their own snack food stashes, this is the kind of food they gravitated towards. So gently nudging them towards a choice with more veggies is a move in the right directions that doesn't cause them to rebel against their well-intentioned dietitian mother. Be realistic and take small steps toward better nutrition with your kiddos.
Prep ahead. Something as simple as popping some microwave popcorn while you brush your teeth and bagging it up, and grabbing a clementine or banana on your way out the door will help you hit the spot later in the day as you wait during carpool duty. Involving your kids in creating their own trail mix, then pre-portioning it out makes a portable snack with very low prep time, and with the addition of dried fruits also hits the produce requirement. Smart snacking rarely happens spontaneously, but with just a few minutes of planning and preparation, it takes you a lot closer to meeting your nutritional goals in a realistic way for the whole family.