As the mom of four little people, a considerable amount of my time and energy goes into feeding the kiddies. I swear some days it’s ALL I do. Plan meals, prepare food, serve food, and embark on the clean up. Repeat. I can guarantee that within the first five minutes of any car journey there is a chorus of ‘I’m hungry.’ The moment we arrive anywhere my kids declare starvation. I need to be on my game, providing mid-morning and afternoon snacks or they start circling the kitchen or traversing the shelves in the pantry on the hunt for food.
I always say they are ‘growing like weeds.’ It’s unbelievable how much food children’s tiny frames pack away each day. During daylight hours their bodies are rarely still. They are calorie-guzzling machines, whose growing bodies must be fueled by healthy, nutritious food bursting with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
So, how to keep hungry, growing kids fed and happy during the summer picnics, park days and family hikes? Whether your kids are big meal eaters or frequent grazers, snacks between meals keep them satisfied while you are out and about. The key is to be prepared because there is nothing worse than a kiddie whining about being hungry. Here are twelve ideas for packing a healthy, budget-friendly picnic which your kiddies will love that also produces minimal garbage.
- Granola Bars
Healthy and nutritious, and when made from scratch you decide exactly what ingredients are used. Why not add a variety of nuts and seeds according to your kiddie’s preferences? Make them in large batches which can then be stored in the fridge or freezer. All ingredients can be bought in bulk, and with a base of oats and peanut butter they are a very budget-friendly snack, guaranteed to fill hungry bellies.
- Whole Fruits
Apple slices, bananas with a pot of peanut butter for dipping, berries, and any other fruits in season for the best flavor and least environmental impact. (Note: we have made a choice to never buy fruit packaged in plastic) Why not pick your own?
- Chips and Veggie Sticks
Carrots, bell peppers, and cucumber with hummus. Make a big batch for snacks to last the week!
- Dried Fruit
Dates, apricots, dried apples, or raisins. (Note: they do contain sugar, allbeit natural sugars, so best just once daily)
- Nuts and Seeds
Almonds, peanuts, cashews, pistachios, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds. Of course, not an option for kids with food allergies.
- Protein Fix
Eggs (hardboiled), meat, and dairy like chunks of cheese. My kids love snacking on roasted chickpeas and cooked kidney and black beans (which are used to make amazing chocolate brownies).
Have you ever tried to make your own yogurt? It is super easy!
Homemade using oats and peanut butter is a tasty snack served with fresh fruit.
- Whole Grain Muffins and Banana Bread
Great way to use up those old bananas!
- Bowl of Porridge
If at home this is one of our fave midmorning snacks, served with fresh or frozen fruit, nuts, seeds, and a drizzle of maple syrup or honey.
You can reduce your picnic’s environmental footprint by:
- Zero-Waste Shopping
Many of the supermarkets have bulk sections, why not take along your own reusable cloth bags? To avoid the plastic packaging, only buy fruits in season, shop local and from farmers markets, or try growing your own. Do you shop at Costco? There you can buy larger quantities, which saves money and also helps to reduce on packaging.
- Packing Your Picnic
Use stainless steel containers, glass storage containers, and mason jars. You can also reuse some of the glass jars you acquire from other purchased items. Take cutlery from home, use cloth napkins, reusable water bottles, and make and pack a flask of hot coffee.
I wish you and your little people a glorious summer of snacks, picnics, and grand adventures!