Sunday, December 18, 2011

21 Fast cheap and healthy snacks for you and your kids

I'm going to start off by saying that we've always been horrible when it comes to organizing meals other than dinner. We used to have our morning coffee/tea at 9 or 10, then maybe some cereal around 11 or 12 and then stare blankly at the cupboards and fridge around 2 or 3 when we were really hungry. This usually resulted in grabbing takeout, eating too much and then not having dinner until very late at night when the lunch food coma wore off. Not to mention that you really don't feel like doing much when you're very full so a lot of lazing around was going on.

We've drastically changed our eating habits now that Alice is with us, she's tiny and needs to eat small amounts more often since she's constantly on the go and growing. Everything needs to be healthy as well to fuel her little body and brain when she's playing hard. She also doesn't like to sit in her chair for extended periods of time and gets restless and throws her food when she gets bored.

Snacking also works a lot better for me than sitting down and eating a midday meal, snacks are faster to prepare, you can eat them on the go or while you work on things around the house and they keep my blood sugar even as I'm one of those people that gets dizzy and cranky between meals.

So here's a list of some of the things we have throughout the day between meals or as a small lunch.

  1. Veggies and dip - Celery, carrots, broccoli, cherry tomatoes and cauliflower with salad dressing. Ranch dressing is our favorite, caesar is tasty as well.
  2. Sliced fruit with dip - Apples, oranges, nectarines, peaches, strawberries, mangoes, etc. Try almond butter for apples and yogurt with a bit of honey for the softer fruit.
  3. Dry cereal - Cheerios, Honeycomb, Vector, Captain Crunch, etc. Not the healthiest option but pretty tasty.
  4. Granola - An even healthier alternative to the cereal, but costs a bit more. Eat it dry or microwave some with water or soymilk for a yummy hot cereal.
  5. Yogurt and berry parfait - Vanilla yogurt + fresh berries + sprinkle of granola
  6. Popcorn - Air popped or DIY in the microwave preferably. Go easy on the butter! Give it a shake of cinnamon sugar, parmesan cheese or chili powder for a bit of a kick
  7. Toast - 12 grain bread with peanut butter or almond butter, add sliced banana or strawberries with a drizzle of honey
  8. Pita chips - These easy to make chips are great on their own or with hummus
  9. Crackers & cheese - Not the cheapest option on the list since cheese is a bit pricy but better for you than french fries
  10. Mixed Nuts - Kids love to break things. Food + safe fun is a great combo. Don't feel like cracking them open and dealing with the mess? Buy a big bag of mixed dry roasted nuts or trail mix.
  11. Dry soy beans - Super healthy and fairly inexpensive. We got a big jar from Costco that lasted over a month.
  12. Ants on a log- Celery sticks filled with peanut butter or Cheez Whiz, use raisins or dried cranberries as the "ants"
  13. Edamame and rice-We always have a bag of frozen, peeled edamame in our freezer. Fry some up in olive oil, garlic and onion, scoop them on top of your rice and give them a salt and pepper or sprinkle of parmesan
  14. Smoothies-Make these any way you like! Milk or fruit juice blended with fruit and ice, both kinds are tasty, filling and good for you.
  15. Nachos- Throw the chips topped with cheese into the oven for a couple minutes while you chop up some tomatoes and avocado to go on top. Garnish with sour cream or squeeze half a lime over the entire thing!
  16. Quesadillas- I like to make a quick version using just 1 tortilla and whatever leftover meat, cheese and veggies are in the fridge. Bake or fry.
  17. Grilled cheese with ham. We usually do this when there isn't enough deli meat left to make a sandwich, just 1 slice is enough. Grilled cheese is great with tomato soup.
  18. Mini pizzas on a bagel, tortilla or whatever bread you have handy. Toast the bread, spread with a tablespoon of pasta sauce, add some pepperoni or ham, some cheese and then pop it into the oven just until the cheese melts. "Pizza toast" is still one of my favorite snacks.
  19. Quick mac and cheese. Cook and drain a half package of pasta. Don't rinse it, just dump it back into the pot, add a teaspoon of margarine, a splash of milk and a handful of grated cheese. Put it back on the warm burner and stir until everything is combined, salt and pepper to taste.
  20. PB and jam. A classic for a reason, it's quick, filling and tasty.
  21. Sandwich rollup- Basically a sandwich made from a tortilla. PB+jam, veggie cream cheese+deli turkey, fruit cream cheese+sliced strawberries. Make it any way you like!
If you're at home, most of these should be on hand already. Planning a day out? Bring some snacks, save a LOT of cash. Don't forget to bring your own water or Iced tea.

More of a full lunch person? Combine a few of the items to make a full meal: have a fruit, veggie and cheese plate or a smoothie with your sandwich.

What kind of snacks do you rely on?

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