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Tips in Snack Planning

Tips in Snack Planning

Healthy snacks are an important part of children's daily eating habits. Since children have small stomachs, they often can't eat enough in three meals to get the calories and nutrients they need to grow. The number of snacks you serve depends on how long children are in your care. Here are some tips for snack planning:

1. Use the same principles in planning snacks as you would with meals: balance, moderation, and variety. You can use snack time to teach children from a young age that snacks can be healthy by:

  • serving a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains
  • choosing foods that are low or moderate in fat
  • limiting salty food
  • limiting dessert foods

2. Time snacks so that two hours pass between each meal or snack. For example, if you serve breakfast at 7:30, you could serve a midmorning snack at 10:00 a.m. and then serve lunch at 12:00 p.m. If you serve breakfast later, you may not have enough time for a midmorning snack. You could give the children a midafternoon snack instead.

3. Plan snack menus that contain foods from at least two of the following groups:

  • Meat or Meat Alternate
  • Vegetable or Fruit or Juice
  • Bread or Bread Alternate
  • Milk

Be sure to include foods from two different components. For example, carrot sticks and apple juice would not make a good snack, since both foods come from the same meal component.

4. Serve one beverage (either juice, milk, or water) at snack time. Since children have small stomachs, they may fill up on drinks and eat less food.

5. Satisfy different appetites with a variety of healthy foods.

  • Sweet: apple wheels or banana slices
  • Crispy: carrot sticks, cucumber strips, toast, or cereal mixed with nuts
  • Warmth: tomato soup
  • Thirst: vegetable juice or fruit and yogurt shakes

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