SNACKS!!!!!!!!!! As parents, we’re all quite familiar with them, constantly bombarded with requests for them, and constantly on a quest to find just the right snacks for kids that they will love and that we feel good about giving them.
We go up to Expert Level Parenting when we actually find one that all the kids will like, which is a challenge in my house. My oldest son has never liked what are often considered the typical/easy every-kid-loves-these kind of snacks — he despises graham crackers, most packaged cookies, lots of cereals, even the amazing and delicious and iconic Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, but will gladly eat a Greek salad (yes, kalamata olives and feta starting at age 5) or spicy, savory steak. Bookend that with my youngest of three who has nut allergies, and, yeah, snacks can be a challenge here.
I’m happy to say, though, that after 11 years of parenting, I’ve finally figured out the way forward: Here are 10 easy steps to finding snacks your kids will love. You can thank me later.
- Try healthy options:
So many choices fall in this category, from vegetables to sweet, juicy fruits. Keep trying and switch up the variety until you find something they love. Our favorites include blackberries, strawberries, clementines, baby carrots, and cucumber slices.
- Switch it up.
Variety is the spice of life. I guess I don’t blame the kids for getting sick of the hummus and crackers I put in their lunchbox every day for two weeks. Remember it’s important to change it up.
- Take it with you.
My life with kids seems to always require me to pack a bag. I’m beyond the diaper bag phase, but now I have the extra-mittens duty, or blankets for ice hockey games, or sunscreen and epipens, or rollerblades for the roller rink . . . and no matter what, there is always, always, always a need for snacks in the bag. So throw in those little lunchbox size bags of popcorn or some granola bars, even if it means eating them 3 months later when they’ve been squashed under everything in the bag getting flatter and flatter by the day. They’ll still taste delicious.
- Ask around
When my kids start to tell me they’re sick of what I’m giving them, or that I “never give them anything fun,” I tell them to look around at what their friends are eating, and tell me if there’s something that interests them. (note, depending on your mood, you can express this as “WTF are your friends eating??? Because I”m out of ideas here!!!” or “I wonder what little Thomas down the street brings for snack. Why don’t you ask him at the bus stop?”)
- Make it exciting.
When we’re not on the go, I make snacks into “platters.” It’s hard to refuse a “snack platter” while it may be easy to say no to, “Hey, do you want some fruit?”. Or, add some sizzle! No, not like stir-fry — more like emotional pizazz through a story: When you’re on a car ride, and all you have with you is one bag of Pirate’s Booty, and it’s not what the kid wants, simply hand it to him with a spirited, “Oh, yum! You can have this Pirate’s Booty. I remember when Grammy used to give this to me as a treat when I was a kid.” Voila. Emotional connection. This snack must be special.
- Forget the healthy choices.
Have you reached the point where your kids are outright refusing to eat any of those healthy options you were striving for? OK, then give up for a while. For real. Those Oreos your kid has been begging for? Give in. Do it. It’s not going to kill him, and no you’re not being judged.
- Make a choice.
OK, now that you’ve given in and you’re giving snacks like cookies and Fruit Roll-ups and trail mix that is mostly M&M’s, watch which one your kids like the most. Which one gets gobbled up the quickest? Stick with that one for a while, or alternate between two of the favorites.
Still good with that one or those two? PERFECT. Go stock up . .. buy the club pack size at your local Costco (check for a coupon first, because, parenting is expensive). Buy the biggest pack you can, because obviously you’ve hit the sweet spot (no pun intended) for what your kids want for snack.
- Serve it with pride.
Begin to put the snack in the lunchbox every day with a smile on your face, so proud that you’ve solved the snack mystery and found exactly what will fill your children’s belly and make them happy at the same time. The listen to them say, after just two days, “I hate this stuff. It’s gross. You never give me anything delicious or fun.” Take inventory of the year-long supply you have in your pantry (no, really, thank you, Costco). Sigh.
It’s that simple. Repeat steps 1-9 in the struggle of finding snacks for kids until the kids grow up and move out.
What snacks for kids are the favorites in your family?