Snacks help kids keep their energy up throughout the day, but should not replace their main meal.
Children need a gap of at least 1 hour without eating to make sure they're hungry for their next meal. To help your child have a good appetite at mealtimes try not to offer snacks right before their main meals.
When preparing snacks for children, try to include a range of foods from the following 4 groups:
- vegetables and fruit
- grain foods (bread, cereals, rice, noodles, pasta)
- milk and milk products
- lean meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds.
As a general rule, the less processed a food is the better. Watch out for added sugar, salt and fat when buying packaged foods. Read more about understanding food labels.
Here are some great snack ideas for kids
- Vegetable sticks – keep sealed in your fridge. Try cottage cheese or hummus as a dip.
- Cold cooked vegetable leftovers – try making a few extra potatoes, kūmara and taro at lunch or dinner.
- Fresh fruit – eat whole or slice up and have in cereal, smoothies, or with unsweetened yoghurt.
- Frozen fruit – try chopped up oranges, grapes, nectarines or peaches as a snack or blend frozen bananas to make a healthier version of ice cream.
- Sandwiches – cold meat or cheese and salad filling (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, avocado), banana, egg, peanut butter, marmite and cheese, cottage cheese / hummus and tomato.
- Instead of plain bread you can get creative and try rice cakes, bread rolls, pita bread, crackers, crumpets, and add toppings like tomato, avocado, cheese or tuna.
- Grilled cheese or baked beans on toast.
- Toasted English muffins, fruit bread, wholemeal cheese scones, savoury muffins.
- Cereals – select cereals with reduced fat and sugar.
- Plain popcorn – avoid adding too much salt, sugar or butter and never offer popcorn to children less than 3 years of age.
- Pikelets topped with banana & fresh strawberries or a thin scrape of jam.
- Cheese with plain crackers.
- Smoothies – try banana, blueberry & plain yoghurt or milk.
- Unsweetened yoghurt – mix in fresh fruit to add flavour.
- Cheese and gherkins.
- Boiled egg.
- Birds breakfast – mix of toasted seeds and nuts – avoid giving whole nuts to children under 5 due to the risk of choking.
- Sliced ham or other cold cuts (keep refrigerated).
Visit Fuelled4life(external link) for healthy recipes and snack ideas for children and young people.