School’s Out: Summer Snacking Guide

Whether your summer plans include camp, hanging by the pool, a long road trip, dealing with a busy airport or getting outside for a hike, we’ve got you covered with snacks that make even the hottest day at camp or longest day in the car a little bit easier…or at least less whiny.

Hiking / Hugo Chisholm / CC BY 2.0

At Camp

Oh summer camp…sweaty, sticky and sometimes a little stinky. There is nothing better than kids that look (and feel) like they have played hard all day. The unique setting of some camps, which often include many hours outdoors, limited access to air conditioned rooms and plenty of physical activity in the summer sun, calls for nutritious lunches and snacks that do more than just fill a tired belly. Take hydration beyond water with juicy fruit and vegetables such as cantaloupe, honeydew, peppers and tomatoes, which are all almost 90% water, or try kid-friendly coconut water. Sustain their energy with protein packed granola bars, cheese sticks and sandwiches. Lastly, if the ice cream truck will be coming around or the “snack” (AKA “sweet”) bar is open, pack something that “competes,” such as small bags of chocolate covered almonds, s’mores bars, fruit snacks or these Guiding Stars-rated “fruit ropes” that may remind your camper of Twizzlers.

By the Pool

My daughter always says that watermelon tastes best by the pool. It makes sense that refreshing, chilled fruit like watermelon or frozen grapes are her go-to pool snack. The key to feeding children by the pool is to have small snacks that nourish them and that they can eat a bit of every time they take a break from swimming. Think small sandwiches or pitas, carrots with hummus and wholesome snacks like multi-grain pretzel sticks or plain popcorn and surprise your kids with frozen fruit ice pops.

In the Car

Squash “are we there yet?”  with good car snacks that are easy to pack and easy to eat. Pack a small cooler bag for yogurt tubes, small waters and sliced apples.  Add more healthful options with easy to eat bananas, dried fruit crisps or pouches and fruit snacks. If you need to cover a lot of ground and are planning on “meals on wheels,” consider putting together bento boxes for your children with cheese cubes, turkey breast (create little roll-ups) or even leftovers (you’ll want to clean the fridge out anyway!). Lastly, curb the requests for munchkins or other treats by having your own options like soft baked bars, chocolate peanut butter bars and small pouches of Goldfish cheddar baked snack crackers or Annie’s Homegrown Bunny Snacks.

At the Airport

You have prepared so much already for your big trip, but don’t forget to think about snacks too…or empty water bottles for that matter, which you will be happy you can fill once you get through security. This is not the time for fruit pouches, which don’t do well with the cabin pressure on the plane. It is the perfect opportunity for easy to pack GoPicnic meals, which offer a combination wholesome foods into one convenient box. Or put together something similar on your own with almond butter squeeze packs, whole grain crackers and dried fruit. I also suggest bringing along dried cereal that will be good as is or as a quick meal.

On a Hike

It can seem like you will never reach the summit when the little ones are complaining about being hungry and thirsty. Tackle thirst with backpacks that also function as water bottles like these from CamelBak, which allow kids to drink freely…without stopping. Hiking is meant for trail mix. Try one of making one of these trail mix recipes ahead of time with the kids to get them excited for their big trek. Once you reach the top, there is nothing better than good old PBJ, but you can add a twist by passing on the jelly and going with sliced banana or maybe mango instead and using protein rich whole wheat bread. This is also a good time for energy bars that may otherwise be too energy packed for most kids such as Odwalla or Larabar.