Healthy snacks for kids sometimes seem to be the most important meal of their day! It's a huge part of the overall food they consume, so we can't afford to let that be highly-processed packaged snacks all the time. Keeping those snacks healthy is key, especially if you have a picky dinner eater! These healthy bedtime snacks for toddlers and kids are really just a huge idea list! We call it a "Taste Test", a snack plate to share with simple yet random ingredients like apples, cheese, berries, nuts, carrots, or whatever's in the fridge! Give snack time substance!
A Taste Test - Snacks to Share
The Picky Eater is just one of the many mom-battles we face. But, sigh, it can be a tough one. You work hard on those dinners only to have them push their plate away and turn their nose up. I think all kids, mine definitely included, go in and out of picky eating. So, I try not to let it get to me, and instead make extra healthy kid's snacks!
Kids seem to be snacking all the time, so we can't always be reaching for a granola bar or pack of fruit snacks. It's not enough! My kids are serious bedtime snackers. We eat an early dinner in our house, so the kids get a big bedtime snack, also known as "A Taste Test." This is a plate of healthy snacks to share. Sharing works in mom's favor here, kids shoving vegetables in their mouth for the main reason of out-eating the sibling!
It's an assortment of whatever is in the fridge and put together in under 5 minutes. The name stuck after a day in preschool when my oldest got to taste new foods like jicama, different pickled veggies, and tart vs. sweet apples. That night we made our own Taste Test, and we’ve been making them ever since!
Ingredient Ideas and Combinations
The ingredients for a Taste Test can really be anything, but keep it simple! Remember these are all just ideas, 4 to 5 things is plenty, and should not take mom or dad more than 5 minutes! Go with what you have on hand, what's in the fridge, and keep it as fresh and unprocessed as possible! The possibilities really are endless, my kids are starting to dream up their own versions!
Start with veggies! This is often where kids get picky, so start with the basics you know they like. Try carrot sticks, cucumber, bell pepper, raw broccoli or pea pods. Try frozen peas straight from the bag, weird but my kids love these, sometimes mixed with frozen corn! If it helps, serve veggies with dip, store-bought ranch or try this Easy Parmesan Herb Veggie Dip!
Fruits are often more likable to kids, so add berries, grapes, apples, banana, melon, kiwi, pears or oranges. My kids have surprised me by suddenly liking pineapple and mango. So even if you've tried something once and they didn't like it, try it again later. Little taste buds are always changing! And don't forget the freezer, my kids love frozen fruit, no need to thaw!
Then add some healthy fats! This can give you more substance and make up for an uneaten dinner! Try cheese or beef sticks. Apples, celery, carrots, or pretzels can be dipped in peanut butter and topped with raisins or any dried fruit. Try pretzels or crackers dipped in hummus. Especially when my kids were toddlers, they loved mashed avocado on crackers or chips.
Add a handfuls of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, cereal, or Homemade Granola. These are great on their own or sprinkled over sliced banana or apple. A few things they love, like crackers, veggie straws, cheddar bunnies, or pretzels are fine when they are not the main snack, but rather alongside all those fruits and veggies!
The Pasta Trick
Leftover plain pasta is an easy addition. Whenever I make a short pasta for dinner, I scoop out about a half cup or so plain before adding it to the sauce. I keep it in the fridge to add to snack plates for the next couple days. Those extra carbs are kid fuel!
Tips for Healthy Snacks for Kids
- A Plate to Share - I think it's best to have the siblings share the snack. What I do not want is 2 half eaten plates of food! I figure, if one doesn't like something, the sibling will eat it. So I try to include ingredients that I know each of them like. Adjust your portions depending on how many kids you have and their ages.
- It Doesn't Need to Go Together - That's why it's called a Taste Test! You don't need to plan out what goes with what flavor-wise! These are growing energetic kids, they just need fuel! So make it easy and just grab a few things from the fridge, whatever you have!
- Something Familiar and Something New - This is a great time to try out new fruits and veggies. Add familiar favorites that you know they like, but try new foods occasionally too! And if they didn't like it this time, don't be afraid to try it again in a few months, tastes change!
- Take the Pressure Off of Dinner! - Why does dinner seem to be the toughest meal of the day? It can be when the picky eaters just flat out refuse. So take the pressure off, knowing that their next "meal" will be a very healthy bedtime snack. A Taste Test can BE lunch if it needs to be, it can make up for a picky dinner, prepare for an overnight growth spurt, or be eaten late morning, after school or whenever the kids are hungry.
- Add Seasonal Foods - In the summer, a taste test is often going to have watermelon, cherries, peaches, or raspberries from the backyard. In the winter, my kids LOVE when I add pomegranate seeds. Late spring we've gotten beautiful plums at the store and my kids devour them.
- The Freezer - If your fridge is bare, check the freezer! You can add frozen berries, cherries, mango, or peas. My kids like these eaten frozen, especially in the summer!
- Add a Treat on Occassion - When I have them stashed in the freezer, sometimes I like to add a little healthy homemade treat. Our favorites are Peanut Butter Nutella Protein Balls, Healthy Zucchini Cookies, and Morning Glory Banana Carrot Muffins.
- Plant a Garden with Kids! - The absolute best Taste Test ingredients are the ones kids pick themselves! Even if you are starting small, we grow our garden with the kids in mind! They love pulling carrots from the dirt, plucking cucumbers and eating a whole one, picking their own berries, popping a few cherry tomatoes in their mouth without needing to stop playing.
- Need Snacks To Go? - A taste test is meant to be eaten at home, but these same foods can easily be packed up to go! Check out how we make Snack Packs to take to the park, beach, or on a road trip!
- The Leftovers - So obviously it's best when there are no leftovers! But, a few extra slices of apple, melon, banana or any fruit, I throw in our Smoothie Bucket.
More Kid-Friendly Favorites!
Healthy Bedtime Snacks for Toddlers and Kids
- Fruit berries, apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, melon, kiwi, pomegranate, anything they like
- Veggies carrots, pea pods, bell pepper, cucumber, baby tomatoes, frozen peas
- Avocado mashed and dipped with crackers or chips
- Hummus dipped with crackers, chips or carrots
- Peanut Butter dipped with apples, celery, carrots or pretzels
- Cheese curds, string cheese, or slices
- Beef sticks or salami cut in chunks
- Peach slices or Strawberries dipped in Yogurt
- Raisins, apricots, or any dried fruit
- Nuts or Granola
- Cereal a handful of cheerios, chex, shredded wheat
- Banana dipped in Sunflower Seeds
- Leftover Pasta Whenever I make a short pasta for dinner, I scoop out a half cup plain to keep in the fridge for snacks for the next couple days.
- Popcorn We have a cheap air popper, so easy, and better for you than microwave!
- Pick a few options and serve on a plate to share!
- Chop foods in the appropriate sizes for your kid's age.
- The Leftovers - No leftovers is best, but a few extra slices of apple, melon or banana, or carrot I throw in the freezer in our Smoothie Bucket.