It’s back to school time. There are more places to be and things to be done. Time seems to be much more crunched than during those lazy days of summer. On top of it all, it’s time to pack snacks and/or lunches everyday.

It can be overwhelming to not only find the time, but to come up with something to pack every single day, especially something healthy.  The grocery store makes it so easy to buy the 12 pack of single serving chips. You toss it in the lunch bag and call it done. The downside of that method is that those products are not healthy – who can pronounce half of the ingredients on there – and they are often not cheap.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a five-step approach parents and schools can take in selecting food for packed lunches and social events:

  • Select a mix of foods from the five food groups: vegetables, fruits, grains, low-fat dairy, and quality protein sources, including lean meats, fish, nuts, seeds and eggs).
  • Offer a variety of food experiences.
  • Avoid highly processed foods.
  • Use small amounts of sugar, salt, fats and oils with highly nutritious foods to enhance enjoyment and consumption.
  • Offer appropriate portions.

Here are some healthy, low prep snack ideas for keeping your child’s brain fueled this year. Note, none of these will include making food into cute animals or anything creative. I like simple and fast.

  • Rice cakes or carrots with peanut butter (or sunbutter)
  • Popcorn with cinnamon – Do you know the trick of putting ¼ cup of popcorn in a brown paper lunch bag? Roll up the top, microwave for three minutes and viola, fresh popcorn!
  • Any fruit – the hardiest to pack are apples or pears, but oranges are great too. To pack an orange, keep the skin on, slice it into eighths, but leave the very bottom attached. This way, when the kids unpack it, they can just gently tear the slices apart and eat it right off of the rind. Remember orange peel smiles? Perfect lunch time humor.
  • Cheese, glorious cheese! Why spend extra on the sticks when you can slice it off of the block and put it in a little Tupperware. Pack some crackers with it. Look for a box with a short ingredient list – Triscuits are our favorite. They have 3 ingredients, all of which I can pronounce.
  • Sweet potatoes. Bake a bunch one night and wrap it in foil and toss it in the lunch bag.
  • Smoothies. I like to make a big batch and freeze them in little mason jars and send them off to school. There are a million recipes online, but a basic, use what you have version is: 2 cups of leafy greens, 2 cups liquid, 3 cups fruit, pick an add-in (chia seeds, cinnamon, flax seeds, sunbutter or peanut butter).
  • Canned black beans. Seriously, my kids love these, especially with some grated cheese on top.

What are some or of your favorite quick, easy and healthy school snacks. RiseVT would love to hear about them!