Until recently, I never had the responsibility of providing snacks for a lot of kids. I’ve done my fair share of preschool potlucks, but the other parents are always in charge of what actually gets put on their kids’ plates. My daughter’s in kindergarten now and the snack sign up sheet got passed around on orientation day. When it got to me, the tempo of my heartbeat went from a slow jam to an EDM rave. It seems like a silly thing to get nervous about, but I’m a new kindergarten mom and just as my daughter is adjusting to a new routine, new school, and new people, so am I. Feeding other people’s kids feels like a high stakes game that I didn’t feel prepared for.
My challenge is to feed 22 children a healthy snack for five days straight. The snack has to be different each day, neat to eat, low on sugar, absent of nuts, tasty to the palettes of five-year-olds, easily portioned, easy to prep ahead, and portable from my home to the school. I was stumped. I remember eating Keebler® Fudge Stripes cookies for snack in kindergarten. Those wouldn’t fly here.
Luckily, a kindly, experienced kindergarten mom started rattling off snack ideas to me and another wide-eyed first-time mom, and it all sounded much more manageable: crackers, pretzels, popcorn, graham crackers, bagels, veggies, fruits, cheeses, and hummus… there’s a mini-fridge in the classroom! Okay, I can figure something out.
In case an angel mother doesn’t present herself to you when you’re in charge of snacks, here’s what I came up with for my snack week after (way too) much research and deliberation.
I should note a few things first:
- None of these snacks are Pinterest-worthy. That’s not my thing, so if it’s yours, you will leave this article uninspired.
- I am not getting any environmental awards for my snack packaging. In an effort to save the teacher’s time and make snack handout easier, I individually portioned every snack into plastic bags, which means there’s a lot of waste. I’m telling myself that most of the baggies can be reused in the classroom later. Perhaps I’ve also checked off “provide school supplies” from my To Do list. A girl can dream.
- I don’t know if I overdid it. For each day, I did a combo snack – a carb and a protein or a carb and a fruit. Maybe just one of those items would have been enough, but since all of the health gurus have drilled it into my heads that carbs should never be eaten alone, I assumed this nutritional advice applies to five-year-olds as well.
Without further ado, here are five simple and healthy classroom snack ideas.
Popcorn and Raisins
This one was a direct shout out to my daughter who loves mixing raisins, nuts, and dry cereal with popcorn. I simplified her mix, adding a mini box of raisins to a sandwich bag of popcorn. Kids can eat it separately or mix it together. I made 24 bags (figuring it was better to have a few extra) and used three bags of popcorn and two bags of mini-sized boxes of raisins (12 each per bag) to make it happen.
You may be asking yourself why I didn’t simply buy small bags of popcorn. Good question. In my attempt to coax intel from my daughter on what other parents had already brought in for snack, she said those types of bags were really hard to open. I envisioned teeny hands struggling to open tiny bags while a frantic teacher darted from student to student to help. In the background, we hear tiny popping sounds, followed by popcorn bursting across the room, and a proud child exclaiming, “I got it!”
No thank you. Not on my watch.
Pretzels and a Cheese Stick
I used the smaller sized snack bags for this one and filled them with a handful of pretzels and a cheese stick. For 24 bags, I used one and a half bags of the pretzels (the standard size, not a Costco size), and gave the teacher the rest of the bag for refills.
Carrots and Hummus
I love these single-serve containers of hummus. They are perfect for on-the-go snacks, so I tossed one in a sandwich bag with a handful of petite baby carrots (because kids never seem to like the really big baby carrots, right?). Four sets of hummus and three bags of carrots made 24 snacks, plus extra carrots for refills.
Cheese and Crackers
I needed every ounce of willpower not to devour this snack before it made it into the baggies. Use whole wheat crackers and look for pre-sliced cheese to save time (I used the Target kind, but I hear Costco has a huge platter of them). One box of crackers easily covers five crackers per serving, and three of these cheese trays yielded four slices per snack bag, for a total of 22 snacks, plus an extra bag with only two slices of cheese. The uneven ratio of cheese to crackers is driving me nuts, but I was too lazy to make another Target run to buy more cheese.
And, apparently, I really wanted to stick it to the environment, so I put each cheese portion into its own baggy and then included that in the snack bag of crackers. I didn’t want to risk soggy crackers or dried up cheese. Cheese and crackers is serious business.
Graham Crackers and an Apple Sauce Pouch
Don’t worry. I found a way to overthink this one, too. You know how the rectangle of the graham cracker has a perforation in the middle so that it can be split into two squares? I bought these fresh stacks of crackers that are already in the square shape. I can’t even explain to you now why this seemed like a better way to go than buying a standard box, but there you have it. Two boxes of stackable graham crackers yielded 24 snack bags, four squares per kid, plus a pouch of applesauce.
I’ll have to do this all over again in March, so please, pretty please, share your snack hacks in the comments!