I’m a busy mom (but aren’t we all?). I have two sons with energy for days and practically two speeds: stop and lightning. That lifestyle combination typically requires a great deal of quick thinking and quick moving. It also requires a lot of quick eating options that don’t involve a hefty amount of time, thinking or “stuff” to pack. If you keep up with my blog, you know I don’t do a lot of extra daily packing, especially when it comes to the boys. I pack the Eat-Poop-Sleep essentials, and that’s it. When it comes to having the boys with me while I’m out running errands or taking them out to enjoy family time, my out-the-door routine consists of simple, healthy options that are easy for me to pack and simple for the boys to consume. Here are a few things my boys enjoy that I don’t mind putting together for them.
Fruits and Veggies
One of the best by-products of not doing a lot of cooking in my home is having my boys grow up loving fresh fruits and vegetables, and that is very helpful when considering on-the-go snacks. I can easily pack an avocado and a small knife, slice and core it, and dice it into cubes for the boys to enjoy while out. Avocados are super nutritious; they’re rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (GREAT for the body), antioxidants, fiber and a host of vitamins. And my kids DEVOUR them!
Strawberries and bananas are also great for quick toddler snacking. I slice a few up, place them in a baggie, and let the kids have at them when they need a little yummy in the tummy. Bananas can get mushy if sliced; I recommend keeping them in the peel and handling them when it’s time to eat them. Grapes are also easy and delicious fruits, and it may be a good idea to slice them, also, to avoid any potential choking situations.
Depending on your child’s age, various nuts can be a great snack en route. My boys love almonds, so I keep a bag with me when we’re out and about. Also high in unsaturated fats, nuts are a great source of protein, fiber and other essential minerals. If I don’t have any nuts on hand, I can substitute that with organic almond or peanut butter and a couple of spoons. It’s practically the same thing, and it’s still easy for my kids to snack on.
As a mom, I’m not averse to packaged snacks, but I try to find alternatives to greasy, salty varieties. I tend to opt for things like trail mix, which, depending on the ingredients, can be very healthy and satisfying without added calories and sugars. I look for mixes that have energy-dense ingredients to keep my boys alert while we’re out. Those have the added bonus of keeping them moving until nap time!
My chip-alternatives center around Pirate’s Booty snacks. They’re like a healthier version of Cheetos, and they’re a household favorite. They’re tasty, light, airy and not fried. Rather, they are baked and have simple ingredients instead of a bunch of preservatives. That makes me feel good about what my boys are eating. Such is the same with fruit leathers, or dehydrated fruit, as many know them to be. They’re chewy and sweetened with natural sugars, not heaps of added sugars.
Beverages can be tricky, especially in the possession of little fumbling hands. Smoothies are a regular item for us. When I know we will be out on the cargo bike, I’ll let the boys help me make them, and I give them the job of holding on to them while we ride. It’s cold, refreshing and they’re none the wiser that they’re actually drinking their fruits and veggies. Plus, smoothies are filling, so I know they won’t be starving or whining for lunch time if they split one with me. Along with natural fruit juices and filtered water, smoothies keep my boys and me hydrated and smiling.
On my quest to manage food and efficiency with my boys, I’ve learned a few hacks that may make planning your kid snacks a little easier.
- If your child still drinks milk, don’t worry about packing it and trying to keep it cold (and DEFINITELY don’t let them drink it warm). Instead, pack the bottle or sippy cup and have it filled at a restaurant on the way. Most places won’t charge, but even if they do, you’ll pay a minimum price for the exact amount you need.
- If you have two kids like me (or more), be sure to bring two of everything. The “me too” syndrome is REAL. My boys like different snacks, but as sure as I pack one for each, they’ll both want the same thing. Save yourself the hassle and pack more than one.
- I try to use sugary snacks like fruit snacks or the occasional lollipop as incentive treats. I make sure my boys see me pack them, and I let them know that they can have it if they’re super well-behaved, or if they’re quiet while I’m on a call, etc. Works like a charm.
- Don’t pack delicate fruits for the day. One unfortunate incident with raspberries taught me that sturdier fruit that can handle a little movement will always be better.
- Save yourself the hassle of bagging things up by purchasing pre-packaged snacks from places like Sam’s, Costco or Smart & Final. They sell many snacks in bulk, so you’ll save money per snack and save time in the end.
- Avoid the stickies and messes by arming yourself with baby wipes. Lots and lots of baby wipes. They’re good for cleaning virtually any mess, and they’re not just for kiddie bottoms. Trust me on this one.
Packing snacks for your kids doesn’t have to be a chore. Consider your kids’ taste buds and some of these suggestions, and make life simpler and more enjoyable for your family.
These are just a few of my tips. What are some of the things you do and snacks you pack for days out with your kids?