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  • Denise Scott

Nutritious Snacks and On the Go Meals for Toddlers and Beyond

Now that we discussed improving the nutrient density of meals - let’s use that information to create meals and snacks for home and on the go. Just because you are eating in the car while rushing from one activity to the next does not mean the drive-thru is your only option. With some planning and preparation, you can feel good about what you serve your kids when away from home.

Snacks can be just as nutritious as meals and serve as a mini-meal. That way, if your child doesn’t have a full appetite at mealtime, you can be satisfied that they ate something nutritious.

So many commercial products marketed as healthy for toddlers and kids are loaded with sugar, additives, colors, and preservatives. Since toddlers can eat regular food like adults, there are no special foods for toddlers. You are paying extra for the packaging and gimmick that toddler foods actually exist! Prepackaged snacks are convenient when you need something on the go, but you can package snacks with the food you eat and have at home. This is less expensive and healthier.

Here are some items to keep on hand:

Pantry items to stock:

  • Whole-wheat or whole-grain crackers

  • Corn or whole grain tortillas

  • Peanut butter or other nut butter

  • Whole-grain bread

  • Pita bread

  • Whole-grain Cheerios and cereals low in sugar

  • Pita bread

  • English muffins

  • Whole-wheat and whole-grain pasta

  • Nuts

  • Rice cakes

  • Tuna pouches

  • Dried fruit and freeze-dried fruit

  • Unsweetened applesauce in cups

  • Fresh fruit and fruit cups

  • Canned fruit packed in water

  • Homemade trail mix

  • Homemade fruit and veggie muffins

  • Homemade protein bars

  • Homemade pita chips, kale chips, or sweet potato chips

  • Olives

  • Pickles

A plate of sliced produce. Keeping sliced fruit and veggies on hand makes preparing snack boxes easy.

Items to stock in your fridge:

  • Cut-up veggie sticks

  • Hard-boiled eggs

  • Fresh fruit

  • Hummus

  • Cheese sticks, sliced or cubed cheeses

  • Greek yogurt

  • Cottage cheese

  • Pimento cheese

  • Avocado and guacamole

  • Sliced deli meat

  • Cooked chicken (removed from rotisserie chicken; some stores have already done it for you)

  • Water bottles

  • Milk in a thermos

Additional items include divided, lidded food storage containers, a small cooler, ice packs, cutlery (if needed), thermos, and hand wipes. Throw in a picnic blanket and basket for fun.

Choose items from different categories - protein, fruit, vegetable, grain, and dairy - in varying combinations for a complete meal. Mix and match items to create a balanced meal or snack.

A nutritious meal or snack in a box including protein and fat (eggs and hummus), vegetables (carrots and cucumber), fruit (apple slices), grains and carbs (whole wheat pita bread).

  • Make pita pocket sandwiches.

  • Take along pasta salad, eaten cold, with pasta, chicken, olives, tomatoes, and added vegetables.

  • Make tortilla rollups with cheese and meat, pimento cheese, or hummus and deli meat.

  • Combine fruit, nuts, and cheese to make a delicious and nutritious snack.

  • Cereal (low sugar/whole-grain) and milk is a great post-workout snack.

  • Nut butter can be served on bread, crackers, veggie sticks, or rice cakes with fruit.

  • Tuna from pouches can be eaten with whole-grain crackers with veggies on the side.

  • Hard-boiled eggs with fruit or muffin and cottage cheese provides good protein.

Toast or graham crackers with nut butter or cottage cheese topped with fruit, as pictured here, is a nutritious snack.

You get the idea! You know your child’s preferences best, so choose items they are guaranteed to eat that provide good nutrition.

The following has been posted in a previous blog but here are an additional month’s worth of snack ideas.

Veggie sticks with hummus

(carrots, celery, mini bell peppers, zucchini)

Cheese slices with whole wheat or whole grain crackers

Apple slices with nut butter

Greek yogurt with berries

Watermelon slices

Homemade popsicles made with pureed fruit

Bananas dipped in chocolate and frozen

Cheese toast on whole grain bread

Homemade no bake energy bars

Cottage cheese in pita bread

Air-popped or stove- popped popcorn

Fruit and cheese slices

Chocolate chip rice cake with nut butter

Homemade smoothie with milk, yogurt, and frozen berries

Cheese rollup in a corn tortilla

Hard boiled eggs

Pita chips with cowboy salsa

Banana oat muffins or any fruit/veggie muffins 

Fresh fruit skewers


Homemade granola in yogurt

Frozen toasted waffle with peanut butter

Dark chocolate dipped strawberries

Dried fruit with nuts

Kale or sweet potato chips

Turkey wraps in whole wheat tortilla

Roasted chickpeas

Tofu bites on whole grain crackers

No sugar added applesauce

Mini pizza on whole wheat English muffin

Once you get used to packing your bag/cooler/boxes of handy snacks, you can feel assured that you created a balanced meal and no cooking involved!

It sure beats the drive-thru - healthier and less expensive!

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