Everyone talks about meal planning, but rarely do we mention snack planning. At my house with small children, snacks are like meals 4, 5, 6 and 7 for the day. Even after we get done eating a meal (which sometimes they hardly touch) one of my kids is always asking for a snack. With how many snacks my kids eat, I need to plan healthy snacks for the week in addition to meals.
Hazards of Snacks
If not careful or paid attention too, snacks can curb and deplete healthy eating habits. When you say or think of the word snack – lots of unhealthy and treat type foods come to find. However, if you have kids that are eating a snack 1-5 times a day, it should be a healthy supplement or extension of their meals.
In fact, when asking for a snack I sometimes offer a part of the meal we just had or say “you can have a snack after you eat your dinner first”. At meal time I do not force them to finish their plate because I do not want them to eat if they’re not hungry or force feed them. However, sometimes they try to get out of eating their dinner by getting a snack shortly afterwards. In that case they have to finish their dinner or whatever meal we just had before they can have a snack or their unfinished meal becomes their snack.
It is helpful to have healthy snacks ready and prepared so when you find yourself hungry and in the pantry or fridge you choose a healthy option instead of going for the chips, candy, or treats. The best way to avoid temptation of unhealthy snacks is to just not have them around. I like to bake and make treats, but I do not do it very often at home because then my husband and I end up eating it all. In the same way, I limit my unhealthy snack purchases so we do not even have them around at all.
How to Plan Healthy Snacks for the Week
Meal prep snacks at the same time you meal prep other meals for the week. Follow these steps to meal prep and plan healthy snacks for your family. First, I look in my fridge, freezer and pantry and see if there is anything that is going to expire, that needs to be used. Second, I look at the weekly grocery ads to see what is on sale or in season.
Next, I take into consideration what my family really likes and what they will eat. It doesn’t help if I get a vegetable no one likes and prepare it for a snack if no one is going to eat it. I am all for introducing new things to my kids and giving them a variety to eat, but I also don’t want to waste food. One of my biggest pet peeves is throwing out moldy or unused food. It is a waste of time, money, and resources to have to trash food.
Then, take snack prep time into consideration. Meal prepping snacks does not have to be a time consuming task. There are many fruit and vegetable options that come cut or peeled and ready to eat. However, there are some fruits and vegetables that do take more time to prep – like cutting up strawberries or melons, or taking grapes off vines. Keep in mind snack prep time as you purchase your fruit.
Lastly, I note the snacks options for the week on my weekly meal and snack planning template. Then my kids can see their snack options for that day or week and what we need to eat.
I fill out a weekly meal planning worksheet because it is easier to stick to healthy snacks and eating when I have my meals and snacks planned out. I wander in the pantry less and find myself eating less when everything is planned out. Not that I don’t ever slip up, because I surely do, but overall it helps me and my family make better choices.
Healthy Snack Options
I do believe in providing my kids options when it comes to choosing snacks. There is so much we dictate in our kids lives and giving them choices when it comes to a snack makes them feel important and helps them buy into eating healthy foods. This doesn’t mean I offer chips and an apple because most kids would take the chips over the apple. For that reason, I usually will offer a choice between 3 vegetables or 3 fruits. Furthermore, if there is something I really want them to eat, I will give them 3 choices and make two choices being something I know they do not like so then they pick the one I want them to.
Here are some healthy snack ideas that you can plan and prepare ahead for both adults and kids.
Fruits and Vegetables
The best healthy snack options are fruits and vegetables and there actually are quite a few you can meal prep. Most vegetables last a few days to several weeks. A few of them I offer to my kids with a small side of dip or peanut butter if they won’t eat it plain. We first try it plain several times, but if they don’t eat it then I offer it with a little dip. Sometimes I even need a side of dip to eat vegetables. I would rather have them eat a vegetable with a small side of dip than not at all. Although with my youngest I have to watch that she doesn’t just lick the dip off and never eat the vegetable:)
Some Vegetable Snack Options
Here are some dip options:
- Peanut butter
- French onion dip
- Flavored yogurt
Generally, kids like fruits better than vegetables so there are more options to offer. Typically, I buy fruit that is in season as fruit can get expensive if out of season.
In addition, some fruits and vegetables last longer than others. I try to keep a variety of fruits and vegetables that last longer in my fridge available so when the fast perishable fruit and veggies are gone we still have other fruits and veggies to eat. I always make sure to have some fruit that lasts a while.
Quick Perishable Fruit
Fruit That Lasts a Few Days
- Apple sauce
- Cutie orange
I take the shelf life of fruits and vegetables into consideration when I plan out healthy snacks for the week. I list the snacks that will go bad first by the days right after I go to the grocery shore so we eat them before they perish.
Other Snack Options
There are other healthy snack options for you and your kids. I do check labels at the grocery store to avoid snacks with high sugar and calories. It is surprising at times the foods they market as “healthy” can be high in sugar and calories.
Here are some other reasonably healthy snack options:
- Crackers & cheese
- Crackers & peanut butter
- String cheese
- Hard boiled egg
- Graham crackers
- Peanuts (for age appropriate children)
- Trail mix
- Granola bars
- Dried fruit
- Frozen fruit bar
- Popcorn (without butter or air popped)
- Veggie straws
- Low sugar cereal
Final Thoughts on How to Plan Healthy Snacks For the Week
To eat better and not waste food, plan healthy snacks for the week. Take a couple minutes at the beginning of the week to meal plan snacks with your meals. You will be surprised at how it helps you and your family stick to a healthy snack schedule.