July 5th, 2008

Super Snacks

This post is where our discussions about nutrition and finances come together. In the summertime, we tend live on snacks more often than big meals. Nothing beats “snack dinner” at the lake on a hot summer evening. No kitchen clean up when we get home!

What snacks do you buy or make that are easy, nutritious, and inexpensive? I’ll start us off by sharing a few of my favorites:

  • Bananas — Every last one of my kids (and me!) loves them. Peel and eat!
  • Grapes — These are not always inexpensive, but when they go on sale, you can buy a bunch and freeze them. Frozen grapes — yum!
  • Boiled eggs — I boil these up by the dozen and then store them in a (clearly marked!) carton in the fridge. Not all of my kids are fans, but for the ones who are, eggs are a quick and easy source of protein. Even if you don’t have laying hens, eggs are an inexpensive option.
  • Apple slices with peanut butter — A winner with kids every time, and nutritious too. My favorite is green apples with Smuckers natural peanut butter.

How about you?

19 comments to Super Snacks

  • Donna

    + Kashi Granola Bars
    + Individual, pre-packaged, nuts & raisens (Trader Joe’s)
    + Home made pancakes with blueberries or strawberries, made by the dozens, then freeze….simply toast or micro-wave and serve.

  • Donna

    woops! nuts & RAISINS

  • Therese

    Fruit Dip:
    For a delicious and easy dip for all summer fruits…
    mix equal parts marshmallow cream and cream cheese
    It sounds odd, but trust me, it’s yummy!

    Skewer fruit and cheese or meats together…some great combinations are:
    provolone and pear
    apple and brie (maybe more for the gown-up taste)
    apple and cheddar
    grapes or strawberries and mozzarella
    ham and pineapple chunks
    …or…review the concept of patterns for young children and let them create their own fruit kabobs

  • Johane

    Hummus dip (homemade with canned chick peas, oil, garlic and peanut butter if no one is allergic, season to taste…)

    Fresh veg, blanched brocoli, carrot sticks, celery, mushrooms… Whatever is seasonal and cheap at the farmer’s’market.

    Couscous salad. Boil water or broth, add couscous and whatever frozen veg -chopped, cover and wait 5 minutes… Add italian salad dressing. Voilà! Can be made ahead of time and is better if it is…

    Those are regulars around these parts, along with cheese and crackers…

  • Tina

    Hummus with peanut butter, I’ve never heard of that. Traditionally it is made with tahini which is ground sesame seeds, and slightly less allergenic. I also add a splash of lemon juice and some cumin.

    We also do alot of hummus and pita.

    We love salami and cheese curds. We also like olives of all sorts. And I have found that babies like olives even more than the school aged kids. I also will make a huge batch of falafel and we’ll have falafel sandwiches in pita, or just dip them in different dips. The kids love the falafel. They also like salmon cakes.

  • Diane

    We hold season passes for local amusement parks. To avoid ridiculous prices in the parks I usually pack some foods that can be eaten in the car as well as a back pack of snacks to go into the park with us.
    One of our favorites is ,in a big zip lock bag cut up chunks of turkey ham,other deli meats, and an assortment of chunked cheeses. We grab a handful here and there and I also sometimes pack a zip lock bag of salad mix and a plastic( disposable) fork for each family member. I take one bottle of salad dressing and each member puts meat and cheese chunks and dressing in their bag, zips it closed, shakes to distribute the dressing, opens and eats from the bag. When done everything is thrown away.

    Pepperoni rolls / pizza rolls straight from the cooler is another favorite.

    As for the carry in bag, we take beef jerky, fruit roll ups, granola bars, crackers & cheese , as well as other snacks that are on the reduced rack at Big Lots or can be homemade cheaply and travel well. Trail mix ( granola cereal, raisins, nuts, m&m’s s unflower seats, etc.) and rice crispy treats are great home made carry along snacks.

    Another Amusement park tip is to splurge on the $10 refillable drink cup/ bottle Only get the first fill with fountain drink (included in the price) and then keep taking the cup back for free ice water.( no more warm fountain water)

    A real time saver when closer to home is to throw a couple packs of turkey hot dogs on the grill when grilling other meat. refrigerate or freeze these until needed It is so easy to pull these out add a bun and some condiments and not many kids turn them down.

  • We just had a “snack” dinner last night, though we refer to it as dippy dinner. It involves, obviously, serving dips.

    Our favorite is this one from Mollie Katzen. She calls it Chinese Peanut Dip (http://www.molliekatzen.com/recipes/recipe.php?recipe=chinese_peanut_sauce) but I’ve never had anything like it in China. I leave out the cayenne because Myles doesn’t like too spicy. I steam some broccoli and green beans and cut up carrots and celery. When I am feeling ambitious I’ll sear some plain dofu in peanut oil. Randy will even dip apples in the peanut dip. Other dips for dippy dinner include hummus, guacamole (sometimes cut 50% with tofu to give it protein), and salsa. And yes, even occassionally ranch dressing if i have it and I need a veggie dip.

    I’ve served that peanut dip to adults and kids on two continents and everyone loves it. It makes vegetables disappear. I know the Moosewood recipe calls for “good” peanut butter, but I’ve made it with cheap stuff and it tastes fine.

  • Sarah L.

    Peanut butter and cracker “sandwiches” (they don’t squish like bread sandwiches)

    Nuts for the older kids

  • Therese

    Ham and cheese pinwheels:
    Take a slice of lunch meat ham and spread it with cream cheese. Place chives or top of green onion in center and roll it up. Chill, and then slice into bite size servings.

  • Joan

    Ants on a log is always a big hit. (Peanut butter and raisins on celery)
    hummus and olives, yum yum!
    watermelon cubes
    hard boiled eggs
    carrot sticks
    homemade chex mix made a little more healthy with olive oil

  • Super-simple egg salad:

    Peel hard–boiled eggs, add a plop of mayo and a dash of salt, mash everything together with a fork.

    Use as a dip for pretzels, celery sticks, or crackers. Irresistibly yummy and filling!

  • There is something just so free and summery about snack dinner or snack lunch (my children have their own “snack lunch” them song, in fact!). Apples slices with peanut butter are always a favorite around here. My children also really like plain old peanut butter and jelly (or honey) sandwiches cut into triangular forths and piled high in a circle on a large plate with grapes or goldfish in the middle for grabbing. Basically, I have found that much of the success of snack-meals is in the presentation. My kids love the independence to serve themselves.

    Another favorite addition to any snack meal is each child having his very own “poke” (toothpick). My boys love to use their poke for cubed cheese, cubed grilled chicken, cooked and chilled cheese tortellini, cubed fruit, cubed banana bread (pumpkin bread, zucchini bread, carrot cake, etc.). The cubing takes a bit of prep work, but done ahead of time and put into zip-locks or storage containers makes it an easy last minute meal. Just put whatever you have prepared into separate bowls or little piles on paper towels and let ’em poke away! No plates needed. . .little clean-up required.

  • Here’s a yummy and healthy dip. Buy a big tub of plain nonfat yogurt. Mix yogurt and peanut butter for a delicious dip. We use carrots, pretzels and apples as dippers.

  • Dani

    wraps: any kind of tortilla (we use whole wheat, but whatever strikes your fancy…) filled with black beans, shredded cheese, rice, salsa, sweet peppers and/ or onions, and avocado. wrap each one individually in foil, and unwrap as you eat. Delicious cold.

    Meatballs. I pick up ground beef on sale, mix up a whole lot of meatballs, cook them, and freeze. Then, when I need a quick meal, they are ready to go on their own dipped in marinara or bbq sauce, or on pasta, or in a roll for a meatball sub.

    “Walking salads:” from my days as a camp counselor: halve an apple, scoop out the seeds, forming a pocket. fill with peanut butter and top with raisins and/or chocolate chips. Never had a kid turn one down! (and still a favorite summer dessert of my own 🙂 )

  • Our quickest summer meal consists of:
    summer sausage
    Ritz crackers
    chunks of cheese
    any available fruit

  • Carolyn A

    To go along with our libraries’ summer reading program bug theme – ants on a log. We’ve been doing celery with cream cheese and raisins, but can sub pretzels rods or peanut butter.

    And berries. My son will eat a whole pint of fresh, plain blueberries if I let him. Ditto strawberries.

  • stephanie

    Believe it or not, my kids LOVE their veggies, even broccoli and cauliflower. Carrot, cucumber, tomato, bell pepper are great from the garden! I usually serve fresh veggies with some kind of cold pasta (garden rotini is a favorite) + salad dressing (usually italian or ranch).

  • heather

    Spread PB on a wheat tortilla….lay a whole banana on top and “bend” the banana a little to make it straight. Roll up, slice into one inch hunks. Sprinkle the top of each slice with chocolate sprinkles, sesame seeds, whatever. “Banana Sushi” is always a hit here. The options are endless — add honey, raisins, coconut, whatever….

  • Larae

    It is funny how a 1/3 cup of juice is “so 1998” (as my son says) when offered plain but becomes a treat when frozen.

    Popcorn is a great thing. It is cheap. You can pop it in advance. You can pop it over a camp fire. You can feed it to children and/or ducks or fish. It fills you up. You can change the flavor based on what you sprinkle on top: parmesan cheese, taco seasoning, cinnamon sugar, or basil butter. Next time you find yourself with a bag of cereal or chips with crummies in the bottom, pop up some popcorn and add the cereal over the top and mix in some raisins or any dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, or whatever else you have on hand and watch it disappear.

    Sometimes for a treat we sprinkle hot chocolate powder over the fruit. The trick here is to sprinkle not bathe.

    Bagels with cream cheese. You can add carrot shredds for hair and raisins for eyes and a mouth.

    Muffins. Watch the sugar on some recipes but you can make almost anything into a muffin with fairly good success. Pizza muffins, peanut butter and jelly muffins, cheeseburger muffins, or bacon, egg and cheese muffins all travel well are are fairly inexpensive. I think I got most of the recipes off of allrecipes.com and altered them to fit our taste. Most freeze well too so you can make a big batch and freeze half for another day.

    I could not agree more with the hard boiled eggs. They are great for kids on the go. Even with the brown eggs, add a little food coloring to the water you boil them in to make sure no one gets a surprise. In our house, even little ones that cannot read a label know that colored eggs are hard boiled.

    My boys heard this technique on the radio, and love it. On mornings when they want to get outside asap, they like to eat their cereal in a glass that way they can “drink chew” it on the go rather than actually sit down. The “perfect mom” in me cringes. What the neighbors must think of us!?!

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