“Mooooooom, can I have a snaaaaack?”

Those five little words can grate on you about as much as the Baby Shark song can. Are your kids also energizer bunnies who just never seem to stop grazing? Man, those little bodies power through their energy reserves faster than it takes them to find your secret stash of cookies.

But what do you feed the tiny humans to keep them happy, healthy, fueled… and quiet? It’s so much easier to just hand them a couple of cheddar biscuits, chips, maybe even a chocolate for an energy boost?

We need to manage what our kids eat for many reasons:

  • Food affects their mood - ever dealt with a ‘hangry’ kid? Enough said! J
  • Food is their fuel - growing bodies need energy and strong immune systems
  • Food impacts their focus - school can be hectic! Those Maths problems require some serious brain food
  • Food improves physical performance – kids need nutrient-dense foods so they can give their all on the sports field or playground
  • Food strengthens bones and muscles – those growing bodies need lots of nutrients to outgrow their clothes a dozen times, much to your frustration

It’s a no-brainer, moms and dads… We’ve got to get snack-smart this year. Our kids’ health (and our sanity) depends on it. Time to hack thy snackbox!

These snack hacks will please even the pickiest of eaters

1. Plan, plan, plan

Successful snacking is all about the snack plan. Without it, you are doomed to daily doses of whining and nagging. With a snack plan in place, you’ll be able to plan, shop and prep so that you’re ready for the hundreds of snack requests in the week ahead, without resorting to the unhealthy stuff.

Make it specific and structured: what, when and where? Draw up a fun, colourful plan to stick to the fridge that your kids can follow. It will help them anticipate what’s on the menu, and maybe even get excited about it. Your plan should be easy to stick to in terms of available ingredients and prep time, so try to keep it simple so that you maintain consistency.

Here are some ideas for daily snacking themes:
  • Monday – “Make Your Own” (fruit skewers, veggie and cheese plate, etc.)
  • Tuesday – “Trail Mix Tuesday” (home-made trail mix, as is, or with milk or yoghurt)
  • Wednesday – “Dip Day” (veggies and/or meatballs with healthy dips)
  • Thursday – “Grain Day” (seed bread, brown tortillas, whole-grain pretzels or seed crackers with peanut butter, cream cheese, hummus, cheese slices)
  • Friday – “Fun Friday” (fruit cut into fun shapes, serve with healthy flapjacks)
  • Saturday – “Smoothie Day” (make healthy smoothies together as a family)
  • Sunday – “Snackbox Day” (nuts, dried fruit, crackers, cheese)

Get your daily themes shopping list here.  

2. Start with fresh

Fresh can be fun if you do it right. Try and default to whole and wholesome as often as possible for maximum nutrition. Fresh foods like fruit and veg often require some prep, but once you’re done you can pop them in Ziploc bags or Tupperware for the week ahead.
  • Fun fruit skewers – fresh, seasonal fruit on small sosatie sticks (some supervision required for young children with these)
  • Veg sticks and dips – carrots, baby corn, snap peas, cucumber, mange tout, etc. are yummy with healthy dips like hummus, Greek yoghurt, cottage cheese, Tzatziki and guacamole
  • Fruity smoothies – pop your kids’ favourite fresh fruits in a blender with low-fat yoghurt, a dash of milk and a squeeze of honey for a super healthy snack drink
  • Granola/trail mix – make your own blends with dried fruit, nuts, seeds, coconut shavings and a handful of dark chocolate chips as a treat
If you’re low on fresh fruit, dried fruit makes a super healthy, nutrient-dense alternative that your kids will love. They’ll enjoy the natural sweetness and benefit from all the concentrated goodness of fresh fruit.  

3. Keep it interesting

If you’re a parent, you’ll know that kids don’t do boring on any level – least of all food. So mix it up!
  • Choose snacks with bright colours that pop (melon, watermelon, pineapple, carrots, celery, cucumber, orange segments, peaches)
  • Chop or cut fruit, veg, sandwiches, etc. into fun shapes using cookie cutters
  • Offer bite-size pieces for easy snacking
  • Prepare a daily snack box that your little ones can graze from during the day (dried fruit, nuts, seeds and crackers are all great options)

4. Make veggies fun

Most kids don’t mind fruit because of their natural sweetness, so you may need to be a bit clever (even sneaky) with the veggies. Getting veggies into little tummies needn’t be a fight and can easily be thrown into food when their backs are turned...  

Here are some ideas you could try:
  • Beef or chicken meatballs cooked with grated veg (carrot, tomato, zucchini, onions)
  • Pureed cauliflower mixed into mashed potato
  • Home-made fishcakes filled with carrot, pickled cucumber, sweet potato, broccoli, sweet corn, etc.) 
  • Throw a handful of spinach or some carrots into a fruit smoothie or home-made popsicles

5. Pump up the protein

Protein keeps little tummies fuller for longer. And we all know what that means, moms… less nagging!

Make sure they get lots of protein in with these easy snacks:
  • Nuts (raw or roasted)
  • Nut butters (without added salt or sugar) on crackers or seed bread
  • Hummus (great with veggie sticks)
  • Cheese (cheddar, Gouda, cream cheese, cottage cheese)
  • Eggs (boiled and segmented)
  • Plain yoghurt (with fruit, granola, honey)
  • Cold lean meats (chicken, turkey, ham, roast beef)

6. Get the kids involved

Kids are more likely to embrace something new that they’ve been a part of. Get them excited about healthy food and snacks by letting them help you choose the food and do snack prep with you.

· Talk about it
Talk about the foods you’re preparing together. Instead of saying, “carrots are good for you”, tell them why: “Carrots contain nutrients to help our eyes stay healthy and help us see well!” If your kids are old enough you can even let them do the Googling to find out some healthy benefits.

· Give them choices
Let your kids choose fruit, veg and healthy snacks if you go shopping together. Let them find the items on your snack plan to add to the trolley. Once your snacks are prepped for the week, let them help themselves from a selection. All of this will give them a sense of independence when it comes to making healthy snack choices.

We hope these ideas are super helpful for you and your family – enjoy!

Check out some of Montagu's recipes, perfect for a lunchbox

Hack thy lunchbox with Montagu Snacks!

We’ve really tried to make healthy snacking incredibly easy for moms and dads! Our wide range of kid-friendly snacks is everything you dreamed of and more. Pick your favourite dried fruit, nuts, seeds and snacks at your nearest store or order yours online today!
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