*sniff* *sniff* You know that little itty-bitty baby of mine? Well, she’s not so little anymore. At some point, that little blob of a baby transformed into a smart, hilarious, talking, running, and jumping toddler.
If it didn’t sink in that she’s a full-blown kid before, it certainly did this past week when we signed her up for gymnastics classes. My baby is in sports! And with all the running, jumping, swinging, climbing, and general toddlerness that’s been happening lately, I think she’s going to love it.
If Juni is anything like I was growing up, this is going to be the first in a long series of classes, sports, games, and events we’ll be shuttling her to-and-from. And since we live so far out, that to-and-from is not just a quick little jaunt. Any trips out for us require some serious sustenance planning! It’s not like we can just pop home for a snack.
In my mind, good snacks for sports have to be these things:
- Totally portable—No muffins or other crumbly, messy things that will get annihilated in Juni’s kitty backpack.
- No need for refrigeration—Even a cooler with ice won’t fare well in the heat of Indiana summers. It’s so much easier to go without the chill.
- Refueling—Toddlers and kids need to refuel after activity, too! These snacks will help replenish their little bodies so they can keep on keepin’ on.
- Pre-portionable—No more being late because you have to get snacks together. These are all designed to be pre-portioned and stashed in the pantry for easy grab-and-go.
- Kid-friendly—Simple flavor and easy-to-handle is the name of the game here.
- Nothing melty—Summer around here? Melt city. No chocolate allowed.
As far as containers go, I usually pack food for us adults into glass containers, but those aren’t quite appropriate for the toddler, so here is what I like to pack her snacks into:
- Stainless steel food containers—They are tough and durable, which is great for a toddler who isn’t always so sure on her feet. We use ones like these for dry foods and leakproof ones for wet foods.
- Snack-size zip-top baggies—I don’t love using disposable plastic food storage bags, but sometimes you just gotta go with it. I like that these use less plastic, and are the perfect size for small snacks.
- Reusable snack bags—You can make your own or buy them online. These aren’t great for wet foods, but are awesome for dry snacks.
- Collapsable silicone cups with lids—I really like that these collapse down once the snack is gone. Bonus: they work great as a cup if you need one in a pinch. I’ve yet to find any that are leakproof, but they work great for dry snacks.
- Snack cups—I’ve yet to find a really good non-plastic snack cup. I’m just not sure that exists! These are the best snack cups I’ve found, and they are cheeeeaaapp.
Alright, let’s dig into some of the ideas I have. I’ve broken them up into sweet and savory, because usually we make sure to grab one of each for Juni before we head out. Girl likes choices.
1. Date Bites — These little balls of awesomeness are sweetened naturally with dates, taste great, and have a ton of protein, filling fat, and fiber to help quash rumbling tummies.
2. Orange Slices — Pre-sliced oranges are refreshing, tasty, and they do a great job of boosting a sweaty kid’s electrolytes. Make sure to pack a few wipes to clean off sticky hands post-snack.
3. Unsweetened Applesauce — Go with the squeezable kind or the cup with a spoon (you could also buy in bulk and pre-portion it into leak-proof stainless steel cups).
4. Dry Cereal — Opt for sugar-free or low-sugar varieties like Van’s Cinnamon Heaven (it’s Juni’s favorite, and Mama likes it because it includes lots of good-for-her grains like amaranth, millet, and quinoa).
5. Fresh Blueberries — Blueberries are remarkably good at making it through some bumps and bruises. Plus, they are perfect for little hands!
6. Granola or Snack Bars — You can make your own bars, or search out and find some healthier, low-sugar, whole grain varieties (we really like the Van’s Cranberry Almond Snack Bars—they taste like oatmeal cookies and have no artificial ingredients). They are already pre-packaged, so no work needed here!
7. Dried Fruit — Pick out one kind of dried fruit (try to find unsweetened, if possible) or make up an awesome mix of your kid’s favorites.
1. Hummus with Dippers — My kid loves nothing more than to dip food. She’s all about hummus! Make sure to pack awesome dippers like whole grain crackers (try Van’s Lots of Everything crackers—they taste like an everything bagel, are gluten-free, and have 16g of whole grains per serving!) and veggie sticks.
2. Mixed Nuts — This one isn’t appropriate if you’re headed to an event or class with nut-allergy warnings, but if you aren’t, mixed nuts are a great way to get some energy in fast! Skip the salt-heavy mixed nuts in the snack aisle, and instead pick up bags of nuts from the baking aisle and mix your own.
3. Roasted Chickpeas — Ever roasted a chickpea? They get crunchy, and make for an awesome, portable snack! Make ’em at home, or buy them in the snack aisle at your local health food store.
4. Freeze-Dried Veggies — Don’t knock ’em til you try them! These crunchy little bites of veggie are (almost) as satisfying as a chip, but with a ton more nutrition.
5. Popcorn — Every Thursday afternoon, Juni and I make a big batch of popcorn (using this method, just without the added butter). We eat until we’re stuffed, then pre-portion out the rest into snack bags for her to eat the rest of the week.
6. Homemade Snack Mix — Customize a snack mix with your kid’s favorites, and then portion it out into individual servings. We like to mix Van’s Say Cheese Crackers, roasted peanuts, pretzels, and popcorn.
7. Jerky — Think jerky is a bad-for-you gas station snack? Not if you find good stuff! Look for low-sodium jerky without any additives. It’s a great way to get in a ton of protein! If you’re serving it to younger kids, make sure to track down softer varieties (normally turkey jerky is softer than beef).
All of these ideas would be great not just for your kid, but to serve up when it’s your turn to provide snacks for your child’s team, class, or club (although maybe skip the nut-based snacks to be safe). And if you’re worried about having gluten-free options, no worries at all! All the snacks listed here are either already gluten-free or can be easily customized to be gluten-free.
I’d love for you to chime in the comments and share some of your snack ideas! What kind of snacks do you pack for your kids to nosh on while you’re shuttling them all around town? Share your knowledge fellow Mamas and Dadas!
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