Every year it is with sadness and happiness that I send my little boy back to school. This year, along with the usual preparations, we received a long note with a list of acceptable “nut aware” snacks. Last year it was cleared that we didn’t have any nut allergies in the room and I was able to send my child to school with healthy snacks that included peanut butter and granola bars. Those are now banned.
So anyway, it brings me to seeking out new ideas to pack in my son’s snack bag 7 times a week. (Yes 7! Because there are 5 school days and 2 after school program days.) In pre-school, we would take turns bringing snacks for the whole class for one week, once a year. I liked that…
As a working mom, it’s hard enough to plan meals for breakfast and dinner every day without worrying about daily snacks as well. I’ve discovered a few things that qualify in the healthy category, and are nut free, so I wanted to share them with those of you that may be struggling with this on a daily basis too. I’m glad to share any ideas that come in comments as well.
First: I found these bags that I can put a cooler pack in to keep these things cool til snack time. They can be washed as well which is good if something gets smushed in transit.
- Fruit Buddies – these are basically an apple sauce consistency and come in a variety of flavors and have no sugar added. They are around $1 a piece but do come on sale as a Buy one, Get one type of thing occasionally and I stock up at that point. These don’t need to be refrigerated, but I do store them in my refrigerator and send them to school chilled as well.
- Individual carrot/ranch packets – Last year I’d send a baggie of carrots & a little plastic container of ranch dressing and inevitably it would open up and make a mess in the snack bag, so these pre-packaged containers make morning packing so much easier and its still healthy!
- Apples and caramel – I can send apples and they may get eaten, but I’m assured every single one will be eaten if I send in the additional caramel packet. These come 5 to a container and are fresh apples so you need to use them relatively quickly.
- I do send in plastic containers of grapes and cheese cut up, but again this is a little more work. They have these pre-packaged with apples but they seem expensive to me, so this one I still do myself.
- Gogurts – I’ve heard teachers don’t like these because they think they are messy, but I freeze them and if they go in the snack bag with the ice thing they stay pretty solid until snack time.
- Dannon Drinkable Smoothie Yogurt – Again, I think teachers think these are messy as the foil on top can open up. I will send these occasionally in a lunch bag that has a plastic compartment that will protect it from being crushed.
- Cheese – Babybel is easy and doesn’t seem to go bad. String Cheese is a little more fun for the kids.
-Boiled eggs – I peel them in advance and as much as I personally don’t like them, my son does. They pack easy and make a great snack.
- Turkey – Since I can’t send protein in the form of peanut butter I’ve been finding ways to send turkey. I use Boars Head turkey breast and put a slice in a little hawaiian bread roll. The sweet bread with the turkey is something he really likes and it holds him over well until lunch time. Or for after school, it will tide him over til dinner time.
-Hummus is another option and I wish my child liked it more, but its never worked for us.
-Lunchables have a meat/cheese/cracker snack option. I do keep a stash of the full lunchables as well so when we have playdates kids can pick what they want for lunch. Seems to go over well.
- There are plenty of pre-packaged cracker options, but most don’t really fall in the “healthy” category. I do keep these on hand for back ups.
- Oatmeal to go – these are pre-packaged but good to have tucked away in his back pack for the after school hungers on the days he stays late.
- Cereal to go cups – I found these round tubs of cereal that are great for keeping and don’t need to be refrigerated.
- Raisins and Dried fruit – My child isn’t crazy about these, but I do slip them in occasionally. I keep yogurt covered raisins, regular raisins, dried strawberries and cranberries on hand.
-Fruit cups – I keep a variety of apple sauces, mandarin oranges, peaches, etc in the individual cups, but Chase got tired of those a few years ago and I don’t send them as often. Plus it requires sending a spoon…
- Rice cakes – Same thing. He liked them a few years ago and I got quite a variety of them from cheese to cinnamon, but the novelty has worn off.
- Whole Grain Triscuits are good to throw in with the fruit or cheese, but I haven’t found them in individual packages yet and they tend to get broken and can be hard to eat.
I’m sure there are many more ideas and I know one Mom who insists her child only eats Cheez-its! I hope I’ve given you some new ideas and your child is enjoying being “Back to School”!