Healthy Snacks for Kids They Can Make Themselves

An assortment of cheese and crackers is always a hit
An assortment of cheese and crackers is always a hit | Source

Let the Kids Help--Then They'll Eat It!

How frustrating is it for parents to work hard at preparing meals or snacks. only to have the kids turn up their noses at the results? We've all been there. I've found over the years with both kids and grand-kids that if the youngsters are involved, and have the option of putting the combinations together themselves, there will be far fewer battles over actually eating the meal or snack.

I will grant you, that some of the following ideas do get a bit messy, with little fingers involved, so are best confined to at home and in the kitchen only. But, in addition to being healthy, they are fun. Kids will eat the darnedest things, and sometimes surprise you with what they will choose on their own.

There have been studies done with groups of children, showing that, given a buffet of all kinds of food, including junk, the majority will, of course, start out binging on the junk, but after a few days, tire of it, and their own bodies actually direct them to healthier choices of real food.

With younger children, there is a fair amount of pre-slicing, dicing, dishing out, etc. that the adults will have to do, but as the kids age, they can help more and more, until by the time they are 8 or 10, they will be fairly well able to host their own snack time "party" with their friends.

Pre-Load the Choices

The trick to this, is for you, as the parent (or grandparent) to pre-load the selections with a slant toward healthy choices. Set out an array of ingredients on plates and bowls, and those are the things from which the kids may choose.

It will make quite a few extra dishes, but the thing is, appearances count. And we all know kids like to see a bountiful display. So, instead of putting cheese sticks and pretzels, for example, on the same plate, give each item its own dish, so the little ones' eyes are awed by the "massive selection."

The younger they are, the better this works. I recall an aunt of mine giving her grandchildren $2.00 each for Christmas one year. The kids were about 4 or 5 years old at the time. Paper money would not have meant much to them, so she gave them $2.00 worth of nickels. The awe they showed with eyes as big as the moon was worth the little extra effort, as they exclaimed, "Ooooohhh!!! We're rich!"

Let Them Mix What They Want

With the choices pre-selected, it is now up to the adult(s) to simply sit back and watch the fun. Please stifle any urge to discourage any particular combination with exclamations of disgust. That will defeat the purpose.

So what if they choose a pickle stuffed with a raisin? They may not like it; they may eat it anyway, so as not to lose face with the other kids. Oh, did I mention this works best with a small group of kids, whether siblings or friends?

When I was a child, I recall hollowing out a dill pickle and using it as a drinking vessel for a sip or two of ginger ale. Did I like it? No. It was a terrible idea. Was I going to let on? Not on your life. I put on an Oscar-winning performance of how delicious it was.

Serve in adult-style bread dipping dishes or mini-ramekins--it empowers the kiddos
Serve in adult-style bread dipping dishes or mini-ramekins--it empowers the kiddos | Source

Suggested Food Choices

This listing is but a starting point of things that have worked for me. You can use all or some and add your own. How many offerings depends on the size and age of the group.

Within reason (no food fights, please), allow them to play. This is an occasion to be allowed to play with their food, which further encourages eating their creations...pitted olives stuck on each finger, for example.

Use this as a special event every so often. The memories of this will stay with them, and as they grow older, they'll unconsciously head for healthy snacks more of the time.

Tangerines

Avocado cubes

Pre-sliced whole-grain bread "fingers"

Green onions

Radishes

Hummus

Soup Crackers

Croutons

Pickles

Carrot sticks

Cheerios™

Bananas

Cabbage leaves


Assorted types of cheese, sliced or in sticks

Spreadable Cheese

Pretzel Sticks

Peanut Butter

Pitted Olives

Celery Sticks

Apple slices

Orange slices

Raisins

Grapes

Crackers

Pomegranates (to avoid mess, pre-seed them yourself, and provide the juicy kernels in a small bowl--they do have a very small center seed, so best for older children that know to spit them out.)

You get the idea. All of these items contain protein, vitamins and minerals on some level. Fat is minimal, mostly found in the cheese, peanut butter and olives, so you can limit those items.

"Recipes"

Here are some of the creations that have been around for a long time using some of these ingredients. Some come from Girl Scout camp, others are fairly widely known, and a couple, my own kids made up.

Ants on A Log

Celery stick, filled in with choice of spreadable cheese or peanut butter, and topped with raisins along the length.

Cabbage and Peanut Butter "Hors d'Oeurves"

Simply spread peanut butter on the cabbage leaf, roll up and eat. As disgusting as it initially sounds, it's not bad. Raw cabbage has a much milder flavor than when it's cooked, so it becomes merely something crunchy to hold the peanut butter--that's the main flavor you get.

"Bar-Bells"

A pair of grapes speared onto each end of a pretzel stick.

Three-Cheese Sandwich

This is a very literal cheese sandwich--any three varieties of cheese stacked up and eaten without bread or crackers.

Pickle-Face

Sliced pickles alternated with cheese slices.

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Comments 19 comments

oldandwise 4 years ago

Great hub with excellent snack alternatives! voted up.


amberld profile image

amberld 4 years ago from New Glarus, WI

thanks for some great ideas!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 4 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hello, oldandwise--

Thank you very much for the vote! I'm glad you liked the article.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 4 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hi, there, amberId--

Thanks for stopping by--I'm pleased you found something useful here. ;-)


greatparenting profile image

greatparenting 4 years ago from philadelphia, pa and corolla, nc

I like the idea of engaging the kids in doing the "cooking." In our house, toasted English muffin pizzas where always a big hit and the kids enjoyed choosing a variety of toppings to go with the sauce and cheese.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 4 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hello, greatparenting--

Thanks very much for adding your ideas to the list. That's a good one I didn't mention.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Presenting choices to kids is so important. As a kid, there are many situations without choices so it's important to introduce them whenever possible. That includes with food. I love your tips for this topic!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 4 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hi, randomcreative--Thanks so much for your comment. I'm glad you liked the article. What I like best about this particular method is that it is a bit sneaky. You lay out so many options that the kids will be all about ooohing and aaahhing over the "massive selection" (all those extra dishes!), that they will probably overlook the fact that there is no junk food present.


VeronicaFarkas profile image

VeronicaFarkas 4 years ago from Ohio, USA

Great ideas! I sometimes put various ingredients and foods into little dishes (like you suggested), on one large dish, and let the boys pick and choose - sometimes create - on their own. It's easier, and they love having choices! =]

Voted up & useful!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 4 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hello, Veronica,

I'm glad you liked this article. The choices are easily varied according to age, and the kids do have such fun.

Thanks for the votes!


FatimaGonzalez 4 years ago

this is the best site for GREAT ideas so that my children can make by themselfs.And they are very healthy to eat


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 4 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Thank you, Fatima, for stopping by. I hope your kids enjoy helping you make these snacks.


Amanda Gee profile image

Amanda Gee 4 years ago from Cameron, Missouri

Very great hub and ideas! I love it. :) Thanks for the great ideas.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 4 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hello, Amanda Gee,

Thank you very much for your comment. I'm so happy you found the ideas useful and liked the article.


ishwaryaa22 profile image

ishwaryaa22 3 years ago from Chennai, India

An engaging hub filled with helpful ideas for young picky eaters! Your list of recipe ideas come in handy for many, especially parents of kids! Well-done!

Thanks for SHARING. Useful & Interesting. Voted up & shared


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 3 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hello, ishwarVaa22,

I'm delighted that you enjoyed these suggestions so much. Thank you very much for your comment and the votes and share.


sen.sush23 profile image

sen.sush23 3 years ago from Kolkata, India

I absolutely vote up your ideas on kid snacks and getting them involved. I remember as a child, all the story books that suggested little snack experiments, were my favorite. I guess with the kind of spread you have suggested, any child would be happy to play and be host! Thanks and sharing!


Careermommy profile image

Careermommy 3 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

Thanks for the ideas DzyMsLizzy, I will try separating the snacks in individual bowls today. Good tip. We tried the ants on a log too, yes very mess, but fun!


Careermommy profile image

Careermommy 3 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

Thanks for the nice ideas DzyMissLizzy. Snack time for my kids is always an adventure. We did the ants on a log and it was messy, but fun!

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