Amid the daily planning for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the humble snack is often overlooked. Though frequent snacking can interfere with appetites at mealtime, healthy, well-timed snacks can sustain kids’ energy, keep them alert and prevent overeating at meals. Try to time your kids’ snacks a few hours after one meal ends and one to…Read more
From planning activities to coordinating transportation, hosting a playdate can be a whirlwind—a fun whirlwind, but demanding nonetheless. Serving nutritious meals to your kids and their friends can be made easier, but what about when they get hungry between meals? Having snacks prepared ahead of time can help free you up when the kids come over, and with a little creative brainstorming, planning a menu can be simple. Skip the heavily processed packaged foods and choose fresh, healthy snack options for your toddlers and kids. Also, remember that presentation goes a long way in getting kids’ attention, so think colorful, creative and easy to dig into.
Here are 12 snack ideas perfect for playdates, from toddlers to grade-school kids. Happy playing—and snacking!
Snacks for kids ages 1-3
Yogurt smoothies. Put the sippy cup to the test with fruit-based smoothies that little ones can tote around as they play. Blend low-fat yogurt, milk and your choice of frozen fruit. Bananas, strawberries and blueberries are a hit with the toddler set. Keep a variety of fruits that may be more difficult to prepare, like pineapple, mango, kiwi and berries, on hand in your freezer for a quick grab and go.
Crunchy banana bites. Slice a few bananas, roll each in yogurt and crushed whole-grain cereal, then freeze for handheld, portable pops that little hands can grab from a bowl. These can be prepared without a popsicle stick for toddler-friendly, on-the-go consumption.
Cottage cheese fruit bowls. Layer creamy cottage cheese with any diced fruit—peaches, pineapple and bananas pair well—for a simple snack that’s packed with protein. Not a fan of cottage cheese? Consider using Greek yogurt as another calcium-dense option.
Graham cracker sandwiches. When graham crackers are the “bread,” the options are endless! Spread with cream cheese, jam or your child’s favorite nut butter, then layer on sliced fruit, raisins, honey or cinnamon.
Build-your-own fruit cup. Let your toddler and their friends explore their food independence! Give everyone a cup and have them build their own fruit salad. They can choose from a variety of options including melons, berries, grapes and other favorites. You can even add other nutritious toppers such as nuts, seeds or granola.
Apple automobiles. This cute snack will set your toddlers on the fast track to playdate success. Slide two toothpicks each through several apple slices, then affix four green grapes to act as “wheels.” The visual will surprise and delight your little ones—and they’ll be getting plenty of vitamin C and fiber.
Snacks for kids ages 4-8
Hungry Caterpillar Sandwiches. Everyone’s favorite caterpillar becomes everyone’s favorite playdate snack with these hungry caterpillar sandwiches. For the head, use a cherry tomato, and use celery sliced thinly lengthwise for the two antennas. Two small dabs of butter will “glue” the cheese onto the head for eyes. For the body, cut out rounds of bread with a cookie cutter, using two per sandwich. Alternate layering sliced turkey or ham sandwiches with sliced cheese sandwiches, and watch the hungry caterpillar disappear.
Apple Dippers. Cover several apple slices halfway with your choice of nut butter and sprinkle on some cinnamon. Bite-sized and with a punch of protein, this snack will also keep little hands mess-free.
Fruit Mini Rainbows. Eat the rainbow—really! Set out several miniature “rainbows” made with arcs of sliced strawberries, oranges, bananas, kiwis, blueberries and purple grapes. Aside from instantly drawing kids in, this colorful snack is nutrient-dense, having everything from vitamin C and vitamin B6 to potassium and folate.
Turkey and Cheese Kabobs. With plenty of lean protein, these tasty one-bite snacks are easy to assemble in a hurry. Cut up cold cuts of turkey, ham or salami into small pieces and skewer them onto thin pretzel sticks, along with any combination of sliced cheese.
Apple Nachos. Thinly slice a few apples, arrange on a plate, then drizzle with a few tablespoons of warmed-up nut butter to serve as the “cheese.” Top with blueberries, raisins and cinnamon—really anything goes. This tasty snack is a crowd-pleaser, but be sure to keep some napkins handy!
The Pitstop. A good option for older kids, a self-serve “snack station” lets them decide what they want, when they want it. Fill a small ice chest with a variety of bites to choose from, such as string cheese, whole grain crackers, whole grain granola bars and 2% milk in individual cartons. Round out the offering with a selection of easy-to-eat fruits and veggies, from apples to bananas to sliced cucumbers, raw jicama or sweet bell peppers.
Playdates are a very high-energy activity for your little ones, and by giving them filling and nutrient-dense snacks that include fruits, vegetables and proteins, you are sure to keep them full and energized for hours. If you’re serving a big crowd of little ones or don’t have time to prepare expansive snack options, head to your grocery store with our Shopping Guide for Healthy Kids Snacks to find the healthiest ready-to-eat options. Playdate preparation shouldn’t be a headache—it should be fun for you and your little one!