Healthy Alternatives for Kids’ Snacks

If I let them, my kids would eat twenty-four hours a day, especially in the summer.

To strike a balance between their unending appetites and my limited budget, I decided to set up a schedule. This worked wonderfully, except that I realized that our pantry wasn’t stocked with the best choices for their regularly scheduled snacks.

I slowly weeded out the foods full of empty calories and refined sugars, replacing them with options low in fat and high in necessary nutrients. Some of the foods I systematically got rid of included potato chips, high-sugar granola bars and candy. I found that the qualities of “salty” and “sweet” could be satisfied by a larger variety of healthier choices when I started providing more natural foods.

Summer provides many hours of family fun away from home, so not only do our snack choices have to be nutritious, they also need to be easy to transport. This also gives my kids the opportunity to pack their own snacks for our outings, teaching them skills in responsibility as well as healthy food choices.

Below is a list of options that are nutritious and easy to pack for a fun summer day out and about!

Salty Snacks

There are salty snacks that are higher in protein, requiring smaller portion sizes to satisfy the desire to snack. Some of these saltier options include:

  • Pretzels
  • Beef Jerky
  • Low-Fat Pepperoni (usually a turkey variety)
  • Pistachios
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Puffed Rice products
  • Pita Chips or Carrots and Hummus

Sweet Snacks

Kids may be conditioned to want candy, but it’s surprising how satisfying these more nutritious choices can be. These sweet snacks include:

  • Fresh Fruit – Blueberries, Strawberries, Bananas, Apples, Grapes, and other budget-friendly fruit that’s in season
  • Dried Fruit – Mango, Raisins, Apples and Fruit Leather
  • Dense, Multi-Grain Granola or Granola Bars (Kashi is a great brand)

The Dairy Group

Dairy items provide kids with necessary nutrients as well as being filling snacks. Some of these include:

  • String Cheese
  • Yogurt packaged in tubes – Gogurt has an all-natural alternative, and you can also make and package your own
  • Cubed and cream cheese and crackers or fruit
  • Hard-boiled eggs

I’d like to say that ice cream is included in the Dairy section, but I just can’t justify it. However, my kids like to freeze yogurt, especially when it’s already packaged in tubes, and there are also “all-fruit” frozen treats available.

When I started really looking around, I found a variety of snacks that were great for my family and didn’t break our budget. Once you begin transitioning into more healthy food choices, your kids will follow along, discovering and enjoying a variety of natural sweet and salty flavors!

Kelly Wilson is a busy mother, writer and an expert in frugal living. Obsessed with finding the best deal, she never goes anywhere without a coupon. She currently lives with her husband and two small children in Portland, Oregon. You can read more about her and money-saving strategies at

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  1. Alison @ Femita says:

    My kids simply love those “healthier” salty snack. For sweet snacks however, they still prefer candy and I always thought that won’t change. My oldest however begins to appreciate fresh fruit like apples and oranges, so don’t lose hope.