A busy schedule due to school, sports, and other activities, can result in meal patterns becoming more structured and including snacks and other more convenient food options. Snacks, in fact, have become an integral part of our food culture; a recent 2023 Food and Health survey found seven in ten Americans snack at least once a day – in addition to their main meals. Snacking after work, during and after school, and/or in between meals can keep hunger at bay while helping busy families stay happy throughout the day.
But what is the best type of snack? Fresh fruits and vegetables are the gold standard for snacking, but these foods alone may not be practical, available, or feasible, especially for people-on-the-go. It is important to note that registered dietitians recommend choosing snacks with a balance of nutrients, including protein, complex carbohydrates, and good fats. “For the most nutritious and satisfying snacks, look for high protein, high fiber, whole grain snacks,” says registered dietitian Berit Dockter. “This is where healthy packaged snacks can fit the bill.”
Packaged snacks are portable, easy-to-eat, and often sold in single serving sizes. They are also made with ingredients to keep your food safe, healthy, and flavorful. These snacks are also shelf stable which means they will not go bad quickly. Below are five snack foods you can enjoy eating or serving to your family.
- Peanut Butter and Pretzels – Pretzels and peanut butter are a classic combination with the perfect combination of sweet and savory.
- Low Fat Cheese and Whole Grain Crackers – Prepackaged cheese, whether string, or cheddar, come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and flavors. Combine with whole grain crackers to make a complete little meal.
- Protein Bars and Cereal Bars – Protein bars are one of the easiest snacks to bring almost anywhere. Look for those touting seeds, nuts, and whole grains like oats and dried fruit.
- Trail Mix – These come in a variety of blends and can be spicy or sweet. Choose ones with your favorite nuts, seeds, and dried fruit.
- Carrot Sticks and Hummus – Carrots provide all the nutritious vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants while hummus supplies protein and good fats