- Food and Cooking
20 Kid-Friendly Snacks that Begin with Letter J
So you got stuck with bring the snack for the letter J. Not B, with easy stuff like banana bread and blueberries. Not M, with muffins and mangoes and mini-anything. No, it had to be J. What are you supposed to bring, jalapenos and juice boxes?
Well, jalapeno poppers are probably out if you’re feeding a dozen 4-year-olds, but don’t worry. There are plenty of other options to send in for letter J.
Jello cups are definitely the way to go if you’re in a panic looking for something you can grab on the way to preschool. They’re also a good option if you’re just not into the whole cooking thing. If you’ve got the time and inclination, though, you could double-down on the J theme with some Jello Jigglers. These are easy to make by just mixing two packages of jello with 2 1/2 cups of boiling water and refrigerating the mixture in a 9x13 baking dish for a few hours. Once it’s set, dip the bottom of the pan into some warm water for 10-20 seconds to help it release, then use cookie cutters to cut it into shapes. If you’re using normal-sized cookie cutters and you don’t break any, you should get about two dozen out of this recipe.
If you’re feeling pretty gung-ho about the letter J and are really in the mood to impress, you could go all-out and make some Jello pinwheels. They actually only have three ingredients and go together very quickly, but they totally look like you slaved over them.
No, you probably can’t just send in juice boxes unless the kiddies are on a liquid diet, but juice bars might be a good option if you’ll have access to a freezer until snack time. You can make it as simple as just freezing some juice in molds, or you can add some sugar (up to a cup of sugar for a cup of juice, if it’s sour) to reduce the icy texture of the finished product. Or, to make life even simpler, just grab a box from the freezer aisle. The other moms might scoff at your pre-packaged letter snack, but all the kids will be totally happy with the bright packaging.
Jam and Jelly!
If you’re in a jam (see what I did there?) and you need a letter J snack with things you have in the house, snacks involving jelly will save your life. The easiest thing is to make jam sandwiches on plain white bread and cut them into cute little squares with no crusts. They’ll look like petit fours, which is usually enough to make kids happy to eat them. To make sandwiches more fun, try turning them into jelly spirals by cutting the crusts off the bread, spreading them with jam, and then rolling them up. When you slice them, you’ll get a pretty pinwheel effect.
If you’ve got more time on your hands but still don’t want to go shopping, jam thumbprints can be made with the contents of most pantries. They’re about the easiest thing you can make with just butter, sugar, flour, and some jelly, and they’re a lot of fun for kids to make, too.
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- 2/3 cup white sugar
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup jam
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 to 2 teaspoons milk
- Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl until fluffy. Add the almond or vanilla extract.
- With mixer on lowest speed, add flour. It'll look sandy for a few minutes, but be patient and it will come together into a stiff dough.
- Roll dough into 1 or 2" balls, depending on how big you want the cookies. If the dough sticks to your hands too much, refrigerate it for a few minutes before this step. Use your thumb to press a hole in each cookie and fill it with jam.
- Bake 14-20 minutes at 350 degrees. Cookies should be very lightly browned on top, and jam will be bubbling.
- While the cookies are in the oven, whisk together the milk and powdered sugar to make a thick glaze. Feel free to add half a teaspoon or so of whichever extract you put in the cookies. Use a teaspoon to drizzle the glaze over the cookies while they're still warm.
How to Make Jelly Rolls
Finally, jelly rolls are a guaranteed hit with their spiral look, and they're a lot simpler than you'd think, since the cake itself only has a handful of ingredients. The only drawback is that rolling process can be a little tricky. This snack is a good option if you want to impress or intimidate the other preschool parents, but be sure to give yourself a back-up option in case the cake breaks when you roll it up.
Not only are they super easy, but cute little jack-o-lantern pizzas will also make your kid the class hero. What kid isn’t on board for DIY pizza at snacktime? Just send in a tray of tortillas or halved English muffins along with a jar of sauce, a package of shredded mozzarella, and some pepperoni cut into triangles for the eyes and crescents for the mouth. Bonus points if your school’s Letter J week falls near Halloween!
Yeah, candy’s probably not the healthiest snack you could send, but if your school and your conscience allow it, the kids will probably love you forever. Other good J options include jawbreakers, jujubes, jolly ranchers, and junior mints. You could even send in a basket of all of them if you really want to delight the children (and their dentists).
On the other side of the spectrum, you could try sending in a healthy snack. Some beef or turkey jerky and jicama sticks would make a nutritious snack with no more effort than opening a bag of jerky and slicing up a jicama. You’ll probably get points for novelty, too, since most kids haven’t had the pleasure of crunching up a nutty piece of jicama.
If exotic tubers aren’t off-the-wall enough for you, you could try expanding the kids’ palates with a few other ideas. Jumbo shrimp with a dipping sauce could be fun if none of the kids has a shellfish allergy or religious restriction. If you need to go with a full meal item for a big J celebration, jabalaya or johnny cakes could be a fun nod to some southern heritage, or you could go a little more exotic with jerk chicken or jasmine rice. Just be warned that you might get a reputation as the school's designated weirdo family.
So you’re feeling lazy. Well, there’s no shame in that. If you want a fast snack that’s a little more interesting than the previously-mentioned jello cups, try apple jacks or cracker jacks, or even some Jiffy Pop or Jolly Time popcorn. Since these snacks all depend on the name of the product, make sure you leave the wrapper on when you bring it in so the kids can point out the big old J on the package.
If You're in a Pinch
If worst comes to worst, you could always just cut whatever you’ve got lying around into J shapes, and everything would be fine. Sugar cookie dough would make great Js, of course, and finger jello, but there are other options. A platter of J-shaped melon and cheese (go for multiple colors of each for bonus points) would be tasty and fun. If you’ve got a candy cane cookie cutter left from Christmas, you’re in great shape. Just turn it upside down, and you can punch out a full tray of delicious Js in ten minutes. Problem solved.