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Healthy Lunch and Snack Ideas for Kids

Published on Sep. 26, 2021

Part of our Raising Resilient Kids series

Snacking is an important part of children’s diets. Kids’ stomachs are small and their nutrient needs are high, so eating a nourishing snack in between meals can help fuel them with the energy they need to play and learn. The thought of planning yet another meal might sound overwhelming – especially if you’re a busy or working parent. But making nourishing snacks and meals doesn’t have to be complicated or eat up more than a few minutes.

What makes a healthy kid’s lunch or snack?

Healthy meals, whether they’re big or pint-sized, are all about the right combinations of foods. Take crackers, for example. Often made from white flour, crackers aren’t just lacking in nutrition – they’re certain to spike kids’ blood sugar, leading to short-term thinking, focusing, and behavioral problems as well as long-term health challenges like Type 2 diabetes. But change the kind of cracker you’re serving and top them with some nut butter, and now you’ve got a power-packed meal.

The magic combination?
Complex Carbohydrate + Protein or Fat

Pairing complex carbs, with healthy proteins or fats is the perfect way to satisfy kids’ hunger and sustain them until their next meal. Try the simple ideas below the next time you make your child’s lunch or snack.

Healthy Kids’ Snack and Lunch Ideas

Here are some healthy, kid-pleasing staples you can turn to again and again. Best of all, they’re easy peasy!

Healthy Snack Combinations:

  • Grapes + cheese
  • Hard-boiled eggs + banana
  • Whole grain toast + nut butter (peanut, almond, etc.) or avocado
  • Handful of nuts/seeds + dried fruit
  • Glass of milk and whole-grain crackers
  • Whole-grain pretzels + hummus

Healthy Lunch Combinations:

  • Snack platter. Make a kid-friendly version of an appetizer platter you might assemble for yourself and loved ones, using your child’s favorites. Think fruits and veggies, hummus, cheese, olives, whole-grain crackers or pita and hard-boiled eggs. 
  • Power salad. Use a base of greens topped with your child’s favorite veggies, nuts/seeds, canned beans, a whole grain like cooked rice or farro, and some leftover shredded chicken or other protein.
  • Yogurt parfaits. Top layers of plain yogurt with fresh or frozen fruit, nuts/seeds, and store-bought or homemade granola. Note: watch the added sugar in granolas.
  • Frittatas or omelets. Sauté some veggies (onions, peppers, broccoli, and/or mushrooms) scramble in some beaten eggs, and top with a bit of cheese. Serve with whole-grain toast or a piece of fruit.
  • Crockpot soup. Throw together a protein-rich crock-pot soup on a Sunday afternoon to enjoy all week long. Serve with fresh fruit, cornbread, or whole-grain crackers.

Enjoying These Tips? Get More Ideas by Checking Out the Other Blogs in Our Raising Resilient Kids Series: 

Help with Food Resources

If you’re struggling to afford healthy foods to prepare for your family, Michigan 2-1-1 can connect you to the things you need. By dialing 2-1-1, you can get help accessing resources you need—whether it’s the number to a local food pantry or information on how to enroll for supplemental food support. 

Need more assistance? Submit a confidential form through Community Connections, where a team member will help you get the resources you need. Support is offered one-on-one and is confidential. 

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