Packing school snacks that your child will love doesn't need to be complicated! These simple and balanced snack ideas are not only great for school but also for home or any outing.
Snacks for School
If you tend to pack the same snacks over and over again, I hope these easy school snack ideas will provide you with some inspiration and help take the load off from the never-ending decision making.
First, here are some top tips for building a filling snack that will help your child to focus and provide them with the energy they need to get through the day.
- Aim to pack more than one food group - Carbohydrates + protein or fat. The protein and fat will keep your child fuller for longer.
- Speaking of staying power, opt for whole grains for extra fiber.
- Don't feel guilty or be afraid of getting help from the store. There are some great options available now so you don't always have to make everything from scratch. Here are my top store-bought snacks for kids.
- Build out your freezer stash. Double or triple any of the recipes I share below once or twice a week. Soon you will have a delightful collection to rotate through.
- Pack with an ice pack or use a freezer bag to keep foods safe.
- Adjust portion sizes according to your child's appetite, age, and circumstances. For instance, I started off by sending my son with the amount that I thought was "right" for him. However, I noticed that sometimes the snack would come back half-eaten and other times completely untouched. He expressed that he was getting too distracted and there wasn’t enough time to finish. So now I pack a small snack to tide him over until his after school one at home.
Healthy Snack Ideas for School or After School
My main goal with this list is to make packing healthy snacks totally doable. This is the exact list I use for my kindergartener.
I don't have time to put together adorable yet time-consuming snacks that you may see floating around on social media, and I have a feeling you don't either, especially if you are also packing school lunches! That's where I'd put more of my energy into.
Here's how I suggest using this list. Every week, jot down 2-3 ideas and rotate through. Once you get the hang of it and have the bandwidth to incorporate more variety, you can expand your list!
Feel free to swap out any of the fruits and vegetables shown here with whatever you have on hand. If needed, I've included specific foods that pack well in my healthy travel food list.
Dip with bread and/or vegetable
Dips are such an easy way to pack in so much nutrition! Here are some ideas:
Pair with some type of bread. It could be anything! Regular sandwich bread, bagel, pita, English muffin, roll, tortilla...
And crunchy fresh vegetables like carrots, bell peppers, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and celery sticks.
Crackers and Dairy
- Animal crackers + milk or kefir
- Whole-grain crackers + cheese
- Pita crackers + cream cheese
- Graham crackers + Vanilla yogurt
Muffin and Fruit/Vegetable
All of these muffins are easy to make with a healthy dose of protein and fat! They freeze beautifully so they're perfect for meal prep.
- Spinach muffins
- Vegetable muffins
- Zucchini Carrot muffins (with avocado)
- Banana Carrot muffins
- Pear muffins
Pancakes or Waffles and Fruit/ Vegetable
Try any of these simple pancake recipes! Again, they freeze so well.
- Pumpkin Waffles + apples
- Peanut Butter Vegetable Waffles + mangoes
- Banana Protein Pancakes + cherry tomatoes
- Butternut Squash Pancakes + pear
- Spinach Pancakes + peaches
- Pumpkin Pancakes + watermelon
- Strawberry Pancakes + bell peppers
- Beet Pancakes + cucumber
I would pack this on non-sandwich lunch days so your child won't feel bored come snack time.
Again, your child may not be able to finish a whole sandwich, depending on their appetite and when their snack time is. In that case, try packing half a sandwich or cut up one slice of bread into bite-sized pieces.
- Mini uncrustables are so fun to eat and easy to make! You can find the recipe at the bottom of the post. Pictured: Sunflower seed butter with sugar free strawberry jam
- Scrambled egg sandwich
- Mini bagel with cream cheese
- Banana French toast sandwich (with cream cheese and strawberry filling)
- Master list of toast ideas. As an after school snack it's fine, but for school, I recommend turning any of these into sandwiches to make them less messy
Store-bought crunchy snacks + Protein/Fat
There are some great healthy options available, which is great!
But then your child may come home and tell you that they really want what their friends are having.
And as a registered dietitian, I want to assure you that it's OK to serve those snacks that may have more than ideal amounts of added sugar, saturated fat, sodium, etc.
In fact, it's highly encouraged so that your child won't obsess over them even more! They can be a part of a great school snack.
But here's what I want you to do.
Take the snacks out of their packaging and serve them alongside other foods. It can help neutralize the snack food itself, which is often elevated above other foods.
It can also help incorporate more variety. How? Seeing the same packaging over time can provide familiarity and comfort to your child. So if you introduce a new item, your child may not accept it because they haven’t seen that packaging before.
- Goldfish + edamame
- Harvest snaps + cheese stick
- Dry cereal + yogurt pouch
- Pretzels + trail mix
- Skout organic bars (use code "MJ" for 25% off) + cottage cheese
- Veggie straws + pumpkin lentil bars
- Potato chips + roasted chickpeas
- Graham cracker sandwich with seed butter
English Muffin Pizza
You can't go wrong with pizza! Spread pizza sauce, some veggies, and cheese, and bake! Make a whole tray full of this single-serving pizza and freeze!
My child has no problem eating it cold so I thaw in the fridge overnight and pack straight into the lunch box. Yours may not either, but give it a try at home first.
Bliss balls + Fruit/Vegetable
Loaded with protein, healthy fats, and fiber, bliss balls (or energy balls) are such a wonderful make-ahead snack! There are many energy bites or bars available in stores so grab them for convenience, if needed.
But I've found that they are super easy to make with ingredients I always have on hand. And going this route is MUCH cheaper.
Here are some to try. I will be sharing more moving forward! So perfect for little hands.
- Pumpkin balls + apple chips
- Peanut butter bliss balls (can use sunflower seed butter) + carrot sticks
I find myself turning to these croffles or croissaint waffles ALL the time. You seriously have to try this easy recipe! There are endless ways to customize with all kinds of playful flavors.
Again, you can freeze and pack cold. Personally, I don't want to deal with the hassle of packing hot lunches or snacks so if that's you, I encourage you to start serving foods you'd like for your child to eat cold at home early and often so they can get used to it.
Eggs + Fruit/Vegetable
I used to pack hard-boiled eggs all the time, and my kindergartener quickly got tired of it. So now I rotate through these ideas!
- Hardboiled + 100% fruit pouch
- Sheet pan eggs + mini bell peppers
- Pizza eggs + freeze dried strawberries (such a great alternative to fresh fruit! They have a long shelf-life, travel really well, and are fun to eat)
- Vegetable Omelette + peas
Cookies + Applesauce/Pouch
Cookies for snack is always a good idea! Here are some wholesome recipes to try that your entire family will love, or so I hope!
Granola Bar + Fruit/Vegetable
Here's a list of my favorite store-bought bars. Again, I recommend removing them from their packaging to make them less exciting and so your child doesn't get stuck on just 1-2 particular brands, which I've seen in many picky eaters.
I do have a cheerio cereal bars recipe on my blog that so many families are enjoying, and I will be sure to share some recipes for homemade granola bars as well!
Vegetable Tots + Dip
If you struggle with getting your child to eat their vegetables, these sweet potato tots are a great one to try!
You may also be interested in these veggie nuggets, chickpea patties, or sweet potato patties, which you can totally shape into tots, if desired.
Sweet Potato Rounds
To enjoy these easy sweet potato rounds at home, top the baked slices with whatever toppings you have on hand. You can even enlist the help of your child and turn it into a fun after-school activity.
For school, to make them more travel-friendly, add the rounds with a side of nut/seed butter, yogurt, mashed avocado, or cheese.
Ants on a Log
Encourage your child to come up with all kinds of fun filling and "ant" combinations. I'm sharing several ideas to get you started:).
To pack, fully fill up the container so there's no room for the celery sticks to move around. I also like to cut into bite-sized pieces so my son can just pop them into his mouth one at a time without making a mess.
For older children, you can pack all the components separately so they can assemble for themselves (or enjoy separately).
Reusable Snack Containers
Bumkins Reusable Bags
These are such a great alternative to plastic bags. They come in different sizes and you can toss them in the dishwasher or washing machine.
I like to keep the snack to 2-3 different foods, so a small two compartment container works best for us. The one that I use for my son, and you see pictured here, was purchased from H-Mart, a chain Asian grocery store.
I also love this stainless steel snack container from LunchBots.
Multiple Compartment Containers
If you have a hearty eater, you may need a larger container. In that case, I recommend this larger LunchBots container or Easy Lunchbox if looking for a more economical option.
PackIt Freezable Snack Box - On days when there are perishables, I simply add the snack to this container which I have frozen the night before. There's no need to add any ice packs.
Uncrustables with Healthy School Snacks
- 2 slices soft sandwich bread
- 1-2 tablespoons peanut butter or sunflower seed butter
- 1-2 tablespoons jam of choice
- Other filling options (cream cheese and jam, hummus and cheese)
- Stack the two slices of bread and cut out rounds using a cookie cutter or a sandwich sealer.
- Spread peanut or sunflower seed butter onto one slice and jam on the other slice. Be sure to leave some room on the outer edges to prevent the filling from seeping out.
- Bring the two slices together and crimp the edges by using the back of a fork or if using the sandwich sealer, place the large round around the bread and press down with the smaller round.
- Enjoy immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days. You can also freeze for up to 2 months.
Elle Wiens says
This was such a helpful post, thank you
I'm so glad!!!