Nutritious Snack Ideas

Snacks 5 min

Practical tips for offering nutritious snacks to children aged 1 to 12.

By DFC - PLC, Nutrition Team
Student eating a snack in the classroom
Student eating a snack in the classroom

Highlights

  • Why are snacks important for kids?
  • How much should you give them?
  • Discover examples of nutritious and satisfying snacks

Why eat snacks?

Snacks are important so children can keep their energy up between meals.

Planning snack time

The ideal time to offer a snack is approximately half-way between meals, and, at least two hours before the next meal so that the children can work up an appetite.

Snack time is the perfect opportunity to take a few minutes’ break and talk about food with the children, such as where foods comes from, unfamiliar foods or everyone’s favourites.

Did they get enough to eat?

Many factors affect children’s hunger and appetite from day to day. Only they know how much food they need. For instance, children who have had a very nourishing breakfast less than two hours before snack time may be less hungry for their morning snack than children who ate a smaller breakfast.

What is a nutritious snack?

Snacks for school age children can consist of one or more foods. The choice of specific foods may vary depending on how long it is until the next meal (For example, a piece of fruit for a morning snack if lunch is soon, whole-grain crackers and hummus for an afternoon snack if dinner is not for a while).

For young children, offer a snack that includes a source of carbohydrates and a source of protein.

The carbohydrates immediately satiate hunger.

The protein satisfies hunger until the next meal.

Foods that promote dental health are good snack choices because brushing is not always an option outside the home. Foods that are low in acid and sugar and are not sticky are smart choices (e.g., fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, yogurt, cheese, legumes, seeds and whole-grain products). In addition, hard cheese has a protective effect on teeth.

A few nutritious snack ideas

  • Raw vegetables* (e.g., carrots, cauliflower, bell peppers, turnip) + Small cubes of firm cheese (e.g., Cheddar, Mozzarella) or Yogurt dip    

  • Unsweetened apple sauce or other fruit puree or Dried fruits* (e.g., apricots, prunes, cranberries) + Plain seeds* (e.g., sunflower, pumpkin)

  • Homemade whole-grain muffins (e.g., made with bran, oats) or Whole-grain cereals + Yogurt or Milk or UHT milk (milk that can be kept at room temperature before opening)

  • Whole-grain crackers or Whole-wheat pita + Chick pea dip (hummus) or Tofu spread

  • Cut fruit* (e.g., mango, pineapple, cantaloupe, peaches, kiwis) + Cottage cheese or Homemade milk-based dessert (e.g., pudding, rice pudding, tapioca)

  • Whole fresh fruit* (e.g., berries, apples, pears, peaches, apricots, plums) + Smoothie or Flavoured silken tofu     

  • Apple slices* + Soy butter as a spread or Yogurt dip

* Foods that pose a choking risk for young children.

For more information about snacks, get a free copy of the brochure "A Practical and User-Friendly Guide: Breakfasts + Snacks + Lunches".


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Schoolwide
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Snacks
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Healthy eating