We’ve talked about what to pack in kids’ school lunches for healthy food, but healthy snacks are important too! It’s taken many years to get this area of life down, and we’ve made a lot of strides. Here is our ever-growing list of our favorite healthy snacks that aren’t heavy on sugar and contain lots of healthy nutrients that help kids learn, focus, and grow.
Combine several of them and you have a healthy lunch as well!
Here we go…
It seems like it should be enough of an accomplishment to shop, plan, and prep healthy weeknight dinners, but alas… there are those pesky breakfast and lunch times (and in between times) to plan for as well!
For this reason, I try to repurpose dinner leftovers as much as possible so I have to purchase fewer ingredients and do less prep throughout the week. Still, sometimes you just need a more portable or presentable snack when you’re on the go (or when the neighborhood pack of kids wanders into your living room… be warned: they come back more often if you feed them!).
I’ve grouped my favorite healthy snacks by category, starting with the most prep-intensive (it’s on my kids’ chore list to prep snacks for the week) and ending with my favorite convenience and pantry snacks to buy.
Kids are more capable of making meals and snacks than we give them credit. One of the best things I ever did was purchase this online kids’ cooking course that taught them safe knife skills, measuring, and more. Here are some of my favorite snack recipes that are easy for kids to make themselves:
This smoked salmon dip recipe is easy and packed with nutrients. It’s very easy for kids to make too, despite sounding fancy. I love this dip for a party or a quick snack or lunch. I always like including seafood whenever possible since chicken and beef can get boring.
We love mixing up a batch of trail mix for quick snacks. Toss some nuts and dried fruit in a container and store in the freezer. Here are some ideas to include:
(I find Thrive Market has the best prices and quality for these. It is a membership-based service but totally worth it!)
I make variations of these all the time with whatever leftover meat I have in the house, wrapped in romaine lettuce (I add hot sauce). Other favorite variations to wrap in lettuce are:
Lettuce wraps are easy to make, especially if you already have the insides prepared.
Most days, this is an easy snack to throw together in just a couple of minutes. I make easy guacamole by mashing avocado and salsa. Slice carrots, cucumbers, and celery for dipping and you are set. My one year old usually just eats the guacamole by the handful, but with all the nutrients in avocado, I don’t mind at all!
This is one of my personal favorite snacks (or breakfasts when paired with hard boiled eggs!). Almond butter is less allergenic and has a higher nutrient profile than peanut butter (peanuts are actually a legume). I just slice celery and smear on almond butter. You can always add some raisins for the “ants on a log” look.
This healthy snack is easy for kids to make on their own and fun for them to eat too. You can use any fresh fruit you have on hand, but for a really beautiful presentation check out this recipe. Serve with full-fat (not fat-free or low-fat) Greek yogurt to dip for added protein and fat.
Whether you’re headed out the door to an after-school activity or need something quick for a car ride, these snack recipes for kids are healthy as well as low mess.
Who doesn’t love beef jerky? My kids would eat it by the pound if I kept enough of it around. It is high in protein, and good versions don’t have any chemicals or artificial preservatives. Stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods often carry healthy versions, and you can easily make your own.
I make these all the time and my kids call them “candy bars.” These granola bar alternatives are made with a base of nuts and Medjool dates and variations can include anything from cinnamon to dried fruit to dark chocolate. (My favorite is the basic recipe with organic dark chocolate chips… tastes like a cookie!). These are easy to make and a fast snack on the go.
This muffin recipe was made when I discovered we only had 5 eggs left for breakfast (nowhere near enough for our family!). This is one kitchen experiment that turned into a regular family favorite. The best part is it tastes and feels like cake but has lots of protein and fiber to keep you full. I also love to make this lemon blueberry muffin.
Another muffin variation featuring coconut flour. It also freezes well so you can make a batch or two and pull them out of the freezer as needed. Make them in mini muffin tins and you have an even lower mess snack!
Everyone loves fruit snacks! These fruit snacks are made with gelatin and kombucha, making them healthy and delicious. They are easy to pack when you’re running out the door and don’t make much mess (even with your messiest kiddos).
Another fruit recipe, these mock fruit rollups combine strawberries and beets for hidden nutrients. They roll up really easily and are perfect for packing for a trip. Serve with trail mix or nuts and you have a rounded snack.
When baked, cheese turns into a crispy and delicious chip! These real food cheese chips aren’t an everyday snack but they are a healthy (and cheaper) alternative to store-bought chips. They are easy to pack and offer healthy fats to keep kids feeling full.
Visiting friends and family when you don’t eat many of the foods that are served at parties can be tricky. That’s why I always bring a plate of one of these party favorites:
Full of healthy fat, protein, and a serving of radishes, this creamy but healthy dip is a great way to get kids eating more veggies. Radishes can be too spicy for kids, but the cheese in this recipe makes the bite of the radish more palatable.
I could make a meal out of this (and I do sometimes). Simply slice cucumbers and spread on some cream cheese or top with a piece of avocado (or some guacamole). Put a piece of smoked salmon on top and presto- the perfect snack. A healthy fat, protein, and vegetable in one bite!
Full of protein and healthy fats, deviled eggs are my go-to for filling hungry bellies during snack time. This is my tried-and-true deviled eggs recipe, but sometimes I improvise when I don’t have mayo on hand (or the time to make it) by mashing the yolks with avocado and a little salt and pepper. Put some nitrite-free bacon crumbles on top and you have an amazing snack (or breakfast… or lunch…)
These delicious chicken bacon bites are packed with protein (read: filling) and everyone loves them. These are my go-to snack for parties since they’re a crowd pleaser.
I love seafood and am always looking for tasty ways to get my kids to eat more of it. This shrimp cucumber appetizer recipe fits the bill. It includes healthy fat, protein, vegetables, and even probiotics. It’s a meal in a bite!
Many toddler snack recipes are full of sugar! These healthier ideas will train their tastebuds to enjoy a whole variety of tastes and textures. See my full list of toddler finger foods here, but here are my favorites:
It’s no surprise that squeeze pouches are a popular snack for toddlers. They are easy to carry, easy for toddlers to eat on their own (with little mess) and are less likely to cause choking than finger foods. But store-bought pouches are expensive and contain preservatives, little protein, and up to 10 grams of sugar or more! This chia seed recipe is an attempt to make a healthier version for on-the-go. Chia seeds are a great source of calcium, omega-3s, and antioxidants, making this recipe delicious and healthy.
This is a simple one but is delicious and filling. Add a spoonful of whipped heavy cream (unsweetened) to organic berries or sliced fruit (like apple slices). The fat in the cream will help kids stay full and the fruit adds just enough sweetness.
I grew up eating the sugar and chemical laden jello at my school, but I didn’t want my kids to eat it. So I came up with a healthy version using fruit juice and grass-fed gelatin. It’s not an everyday snack but is a healthier choice than regular jello.
In my opinion, kale chips are the most kid-friendly way to serve kale. For toddlers, this is an especially good choice because it helps to expose them to greens early so they learn to like them. My kids don’t usually like kale, but kale chips they love!
It can be hard to find snacks for kids (and toddlers especially) that don’t include sugar. But I like to reserve sweet treats for special occasions and give nutrient-dense snacks instead. This roasted sweet potato bites recipe is perfect. It’s easy to make (and freeze for later) and is an easy food for toddlers to eat on their own.
A far cry from the chicken fingers you find on most kid menus. These healthier chicken fingers are easy to make and delicious for adults and big kids too!
Hey, healthy can be delicious too!
This healthy snow cream (Dairy-free version option) was born when my kids (and the neighborhood kids) wanted to try this treat after a snowfall. Since snow was unusual in our area, I wanted to find a way to make it happen. This recipe uses just 4 ingredients (including snow!) and is a fun and healthy treat for the winter.
This recipe is GAPS, Paleo, and Primal friendly.
With lots of healthy fats and just stevia as a sweetener, these treats are surprisingly healthy.
This is definitely not an everyday food but when the kids are begging for a marshmallow, this recipe is a much better choice than store-bought marshmallows. It includes nutrient-dense ingredients such as gelatin, marshmallow root, and even probiotics.
These summertime pops are not an everyday snack but they can be a fun and healthy occasional treat. These are made with just 4 ingredients and very easy to make.
If you’re not into making your own healthy snacks, there are so many more healthy options now than there were 10+ years ago when I started blogging! Here’s a short list of my family’s current favorites, most of them from Thrive Market, my not-so-secret secret for saving a lot of $ on pantry items like grain-free crackers, nuts, sardines, and many organic convenience foods.
I buy these snacks in bulk and keep them in a safe place in the pantry (read: where kids can’t reach them) so they are there when we need them.
The next time you’re stumped for what to give the kids for school snacks or after school, try one of these delicious and healthy snack recipes. They are grain free and gluten free and many are peanut and dairy free as well.
If you’re wanting more healthy and kid-friendly recipes, check out my full list of healthy breakfast and lunch ideas or this awesome list of snacks from Mark’s Daily Apple.
I’m sure I’ve missed some great ideas… please share your favorites in the comments below!