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Healthy, Pre-Packaged Snacks

by Diane Watkins

When trying to eat healthy, plan ahead and carry snack foods that fit your family's dietary goals. Having a nutritious snack available keeps you and your kids from being tempted by the high-calorie, sugar- and salt-laden foods sold in shops, cafeterias and vending machines. Buy pre-packaged snacks that offer nutrients from every food group to stave off hunger and stop junk food temptations.

Fruits and Vegetables

An apple, tangerine, orange or banana needs no packaging. Simply wash the fruit and tuck it away for later enjoyment. Supermarkets offer single-serving packages of cut-up apples, carrots, and other fruits and vegetables, often with a small serving of dip or dressing on the side. Dried fruits and vegetable chips are available, as well as single servings of applesauce, fruit and vegetable purees, and light ranch dressing for dipping. Pre-packaged fruits and vegetables are easy to tuck into a lunchbox or carry for a quick snack, while contributing to your daily fruit and vegetable requirements.

Dairy Products

Yogurt comes in an assortment of packaging styles. For quick enjoyment, kids appreciate squeezeable yogurt. Just be sure to check the nutrition on these packages; some are full of sugar and other additives. Cheese is also sold in single-serving portions. Dairy products are nutritious, but like other snack foods, they can be high in fat. The USDA currently recommends 2 cups of low-fat milk daily for children under 9 years of age and 3 cups for older children. Yogurt, low-fat cheese and milk-based puddings satisfy part of this requirement, especially for children who don’t drink milk.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts are a healthy snack and come in individual servings. Be aware that some schools have rules about bringing nuts onto campus because of children with nut allergies. Nut allergies can be deadly and are triggered by breathing in particles or even by contact with others who have eaten nuts recently. Check the rules at your child's school before packing nuts for a snack. Pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are also available pre-packaged in single servings for convenience. Seeds and nuts are high in protein and other nutrients, but also contain a moderate serving of fat, so use them in moderation.

Whole Grains

A variety of pre-packaged snack foods is available, many of which are low in nutritional value and high in fat. Look for whole-grain and low-fat alternatives such as pretzels, popcorn, baked corn chips, and rice or corn cakes. Some varieties of chips are available baked rather than fried. Check the nutrition labels for hidden fats and sugars.

Juice Packs and Water

Juices contribute to the day's allotment of fruits and vegetables, but they can also be high in calories and sugar. Choose 100 percent fruit juice varieties and use them in moderation. Juice is preferable to calorie-laden soda, but teach your kids to enjoy a cold bottle of water as well. Some water bottles and juice packs can be frozen, keeping packed food cold while melting in time for snacking enjoyment.

About the Author

Diane Watkins has been writing since 1984, with experience in newspaper, newsletter and Web content. She writes two electronic newsletters and has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Clemson University. She has taken graduate courses in biochemistry and education.

Photo Credits

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