By: Dr. Mandy Penny

I have 3 boys, aged 1, 8, and 11 years old. Like many parents, I frequently struggle to provide healthy snack options. As a working mom whose kids seem to have endless after-school activities, I need snacks that are quick and convenient. I’ve challenged myself to seek healthy options to fuel my boys on the go. Here are some great go-to options that have saved my family from being “hangry” (hungry and angry!).

One family favorite is homemade trail mix. I mix peanuts, pretzels, almonds, dried cranberries or raisins, and chocolate chips in a small Ziploc. This combination satisfies their sweet tooth but offers protein to sustain their energy level until the next meal. Of note, I don’t recommend peanuts or almonds to children under 3 years of age due to the choking risk.
Another option is homemade granola or homemade granola bars. Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, has a wonderful recipe suggestion on her blog http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/granola-bars. You can experiment with this to find what fits your family’s tastes best.

String cheese sticks are another go-to for our family. I alternate between mozzarella and cheddar. I also try to have tortillas available at home at all times. We turn those into quesadillas, peanut butter tortillas, and Nutella/banana tortillas. Refried beans warmed with some cheese and maybe salsa if you are feeling adventurous makes for a protein-packed snack. I also use this as a main course option in my boys’ lunch boxes.

Fruit is also popular in our house. If my kids are begging for candy as their snack, I offer apple slices or apple slices with peanut butter or honey. If they are really hungry, they will eat the apples instead of a piece of candy. Pears, plums, grapes, and strawberries are other quick options. I also throw carrot sticks in a Ziploc for vitamin A and a crunchy snack.
We don’t eat or snack healthy all the time, but these are some quick easy options for us. Incorporating some of these suggestions into your routine may help get you out of a chip and cookie rut. Of course, I’m always looking for new ideas, so if you have any, please send them my way!