Snacks have been on my mind a lot lately.  That’s why I was particularly glad to get this question from Diana about easy, portable snacks.

Diana says her easy snacks for busy days include Goldfish, flavored yogurt, granola bars and cheese.  But she’s been reading the blog and she’s ready for a change.

(If you haven’t been following my snack fixation, catch up by reading  What To Do About Snacks, Do Kids Need to Snack? and  Should Toddlers Snack on Demand?)

Diana writes:

My daughter is a great eater so I’m not worried about making sure she gets enough variety but that our mainstays are healthy. So what are some easy and portable snacks? We have some raisins, walnuts, and banana chips that I keep in the car. What else could I keep on hand especially to take on the go?

If you’re looking for healthy snack ideas, look around the produce department.

This is the quick and easy answer.

I don’t push fruits and vegetables so much—Read Fruits and Vegetables at Every Meal and Every Snack—Every Darn Day—because it’s the nutritious thing to do (even though it is), but because…

When parents ask me to recommend easy and portable snacks I often wonder if what they’re really saying is, “Suggest an easy snack that my child is guaranteed to eat,” because fruits and vegetables are easy but nobody seems to think about them.

This is the more complicated answer.

For instance, it takes roughly two seconds to slice an apple and throw it into a baggy, but most parents I know don’t think slicing an apple is as easy as grabbing a bag of Goldfish crackers.  I suspect this is because parents know their kids are guaranteed to eat the Goldfish crackers, but with the apple it’s touch and go.

Similarly, there are…

  • Carrots (whether you buy pre-cut baby carrots or you cut one up yourself)
  • Sugar snap peas (prewashed and already bagged)
  • A few pieces of last night’s broccoli

And the list goes on…

  • Grapes
  • Bananas
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries

You get my point.  (Lemon juice stops the browning, plastic containers stop the bruising, and pre-prepping cuts down on the grab-and-go time.)

In my experience parents don’t readily go for fruits and vegetables at snack time on the go because there’s no guarantee their kids will eat them.

At home, there’s always a backup.  And on the go there’s too much at stake to risk a meltdown.

Wanting the guarantee makes packaged snacks seem easier. (And they are, if your kids are used to eating them, but they wouldn’t be if you changed your kids’ habits.)

But wanting this guarantee signals a different problem because what that says is, “I’m not willing for my children to be hungry because they’ve rejected the snack I’ve provided.”  It’s something to think about.

But, a child who rejects a snack is a child who:

  • Isn’t that hungry.
  • Is engaged in a control struggle.
  • Or both.

Read Curbing Your Kid’s Craving for Control.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Update on July 17, 2012

Molly’s comment below raised a valid point: That sometimes parents want to know what kinds of snacks they can put in the car, the purse, the stroller for whenever they’re needed.  To this I want to say: there’s room in the diet for packaged foods.  I told this to Diana offline and should have written this in the blog post.

However, Molly’s comment raised another problem with my post: That it may have come across as critical of Diana. For this I apologize. I don’t feel critical of Diana, and other parents with the same question.  We all worry about feeding our hungry children, and preventing a meltdown on the go. I, for one, carried around a purseful of snacks when my daughter was little.  Now, however, I question my old approach.