Healthy Snacks on the Go

Be ready for after-school or on-the-road munchies with healthy snacks to go.

Healthy snacks on the go - fruit in a takeout container
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If you're ever scoured the contents of a vending machine trying to find a decent snack for your child, you know you need a better solution: Healthy snacks to take on the go. Keep these portable, packable items handy at home, in the car, or in your bag for a healthier alternative to impulse buying.

What's most healthful will depend on your child's age, energy and activity level, and what she eats at mealtimes.

For example, if your child is very active, she needs extra carbs and calories to fuel her body—not to mention plenty of water. Or, if she tends to avoid a certain food group (say, protein or vegetables) at mealtimes, emphasize those items at snack time, when she's extra hungry and may be more willing to branch out. And if you're on the go to an intense sports practice or game, avoid these worst pre-game meals and snacks.

The following on-the-go snacks are good choices for most kids and teens. But be sure to read labels for hidden ingredients, allergens, and surprising sugars and calories. 

  • Whole fruits: apples, bananas, pears, nectarines, grapes, berries, cherries, melon wedges or chunks, kiwi, pineapple (not packed in syrup), plums, citrus fruits like clementines, tangerines, and oranges
  • Trail mix: avoid those with lots of candy; try to stick with nuts, dried fruit, and seeds (and okay, maybe a few chocolate chips)
  • String cheese*
  • Hard-boiled eggs*
  • Dry cereal (look for varieties with less than 5 grams of sugar per serving)
  • Whole-grain pretzels or baked chips or crackers
  • Popcorn, without butter or lots of added salt
  • Sandwiches made with whole grain bread and lean meats,* cheese,* or nut butters; add extra nutrients by including fruits or vegetables, like spinach leaves or thin slices of apple
  • Fruit leathers (made with 100% fruit juice or puree), dried fruits, or freeze-dried fruits
  • Squeezable yogurt* or applesauce (check labels for sugar content)
  • Raw vegetables: carrots, celery, sugar snap peas, green beans, cherry tomatoes, green pepper or cucumber strips*
  • Lightly cooked vegetables, such as broccoli or cauliflower florets or edamame
  • Veggie chips, like sweet potato or kale; homemade is usually healthier, if you can swing it
  • Small to-go containers of healthy dips, such as hummus, salsa, and guacamole, to go with whole-grain pretzels or raw veggies
  • Beef or turkey jerky
  • Seeds: pumpkin and sunflower are popular
  • Nuts (in the shell is messier, but helps guard against overeating); watch labels for salt content
  • Cookies: fig bars, animal crackers, oatmeal cookies, graham crackers

*Requires refrigeration or a cooler with a cold pack

Still Hungry?

For more ideas, check the natural foods area at your grocery store or even a service like NatureBox. There are more and more packaged, reasonably healthy snacks and convenience foods available for busy families.

But you do have to be an ace nutrition-label reader to make sure you're getting foods that offer a good nutritional value. 

Safety note: Remember that raw vegetables, grapes, nuts, and popcorn are choking hazards. Avoid serving to children under 5, or cut into small pieces first.

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