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Healthy School Snacks for 30 Preschoolers

Hi Chowhounders!

I need your help in a major way! My 4 year old daughter starts her firsr day of school tomorrow. I learned tonight at the first parents' meeting that we as parents are responsible for bringing in a healthy snack for 30 kids once a month. We are supposed to bring something that does not contain peanuts or peanut butter due to the high incidence of peanut allergies. Also, sugary snacks are not encohraged. We are also supposed to bring a complimentary beverage for all 30 of the kids, either water, milk, or 100% juice. Given these instructions and this scenario, what would you bring in?

Thanks so much for your suggestions!

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  1. Mini water bottles for beverage- my personal feelings are that kids need to learn young to just. Drink. Water.

    Fruit and crackers or pretzels:
    I.e. cut bunches of grapes, mandarin oranges (easy to peel), bananas, plus graham crackers, mini pretzels, pita chips etc

    If it is still warm weather, all fruit juice popscicles

    String cheeses, trail mix of raisins, pretzels, choco chips, cereal.

    Make mini muffins (blueberry or something common)

    Aaaaaannnnnddddd- hope you're not first and see what other people bring and get feedback from your kid what snacks everyone liked :)

    2 Replies
    1. re: Ttrockwood

      Couldn’t agree more on the water. Took my then 2 year old nephew to a work Christmas gathering (just crafts, sitting on santa, cookie decorating) but minimal snacks and only water. He took one look in the cup, and said “I want juice”. Well, we told him there is no juice here and he started guzzling the water (this is a kid who never drinks water). He is also the type of kid (to this day) who is super picky at home but will eat just about anything (well, without obvious “green”) that is put infront of him at daycare.
      Some ideas:
      Frozen banana popsicles (dipped in a very thin layer of dark chocolate) – Skinnytaste
      Homemade fruit leather
      Homemade yogurt popsicles
      Mini pizza buns (use pizza dough and roll up like a cinnamon roll with favourite pizza ingredients)
      Pizza monkey bread (looks really neat and can just break apart a few pieces per kid)
      Mini apple pancakes with syrup (not too much!)
      Snap peas – the “chip”) (can get expensive so can mix with other things like pretzels, popcorn etc)
      Zucchini brownies (however, might fall into the too sugary category and because they are so good they kids might expect something like this weekly!)

      1. re: pumpkinspice

        Do you have a favorite recipe for Pizza Monkey Bread?


    2. Apple slices
      Pita bread/chips with hummus
      Baby carrots with ranch
      Fruit salad
      Mini bagels with cream cheese
      Cheese cubes and grapes (cut in half if too big)

      Our elementary discourages homemade snacks like muffins for class snacks/birthdays as there is no way to ensure there is no cross contamination. They prefer things like fruit or prepackaged items with a visible ingredient list. Luckily my kids are in the upper grades now and I don't have to send class snacks anymore, just their own!

      1. would a non-peanut nut butter be acceptable? if so, you could do almond- or hazelnut-butter and jam/jelly sandwiches cut into appropriate sizes/cute shapes. otherwise, maybe fruit snacks, oatmeal-raisin cookies, pumpkin zucchini or banana bread, celery filled with cream cheese and raisins, yogurts, string cheese, homemade (non-peanut) cereal+raisin+nut(?)+M&M(sparing) snack mix (honey nut chex, multigrain cheerios, cashews, roasted salted almonds, dried cranberry, and white chocolate chips are popular), apple slices, mandarin/"cuties" oranges, bananas, cut/baby veg with dip (ranch, hummus, etc), or for the more adventurous set, japanese rice balls (onigiri) - may go over better if you use "cute" shape molds available on amazon. all the above have the benefit of being vegetarian, too, in case any kids/parents in your class adhere to a veggie lifestyle. good luck!

        1. Frozen bananas! (Or 1/2 a frozen banana) on a popsicle stick... make mine organic. :-)

          1. Make little frico cups and fill w/ chopped apple/pear/grape salad.

            Prosciutto parmesan grissini:


            Black bean brownies (these are sweet but healthy enough for preschoolers)--there are different versions, some w/ flour, some gluten free

            If you don't want to cook, cut cheese shaped w/ tiny cookie cutters and serve on crackers or apple slices

            1. Finger foods that don't crumble all over the place. Grapes, string cheese, and water.

              1. When my kid was that age, parents also had to provide snack but it was for a whole week at a time. The school was smart. The classes had a pre-printed list of what was acceptable/desired and the teacher would send the sheet home with the requested items and their quantities checked off. It made things so much easier.

                But all the suggestions so far have been good - yogurt, cheese cubes, fresh fruit, crackers and jam, hummus, juice, etc.

                1. I made a nut free recipe from AllRecipes for mini toddler muffins. It was easy peasy and they were delicious. I made a dozen mini and six regular but you could double the recipe for 36 mini and still get 6 regular for adults. The sugar was minimal but just enough. I used a scant 1/2 cup of turbanado, not the packed half cup of dark brown sugar in the recipe and I used oatmeal in place of oat bran. They do pack a lot of fiber.


                  1. Bring sugar-y snacks every time so you get dropped from the rotation? (just kidding, I think...)

                    Pear half (optionally with cottage cheese). Dip in lemon juice to keep cut side from browning.


                    Diploma sandwich- white bread, crust cut off, spread with softened cream cheese and rolled up.

                    Round cracker or party rye bread square, spread with cream cheese/ranch dressing mix, top with a cucumber slice.

                    Water served in cups, with shaped iced cubes.

                    Water from jug, chilled with fruit or cucumber slices to flavor the water.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: MidwesternerTT

                      Tortilla roll ups...like the diploma roll up above is good too.
                      Goldfish crackers are a fave
                      Animal crackers

                    2. Kid size bottles of water (right on Ttrockwood)
                      A tray of baby carrots and dip
                      I'm with tcamp on the string cheese!
                      A good yogurt with not a lot of added junk (vanilla works)
                      A little cold cut tray with rolled up ham, turkey, cheese
                      Little unsweetened applesauce containers

                      1. Faux Chex mix - mix some Chex or Crispix, small pretzels, goldfish crackers, etc., hold the peanuts and seasonings.

                        A big tub of vanilla yogurt with granola (cereal) and berries (send a couple pints of blueberries, no slicing required)

                        No work required beyond purchasing:
                        Honey-wheat pretzels
                        Veggie Stix
                        Nutri-Grain bars
                        Cheese sticks or bars

                        My 3yo is a big fan of cereal as a snack... Life, Puffins, Kix, some of the flavored Cheerios...

                        1. Mini bagels and cream cheese, grapes, strawberries, mini bananas, carrots, celery sticks, mini pita and dip , cheese cubes, graham crackers. Banana bread or mini muffins, Paula Deen has an apple muffin recipe that isn't low in sugar but all of the kids I feed really like.
                          I too would stick with water for the beverage.

                          1. Nikki's Healthy Cookies is a recipe you can google. It's vegan (stay with me now - I'm NOT vegan!) but I add one egg to make them a bit sturdier. They are not overly sweet, and have enough protein that they really take the edge off hunger pangs.

                            Horn-tooting here: CHOW recipes contains mine for Healthy Hummingbird Muffins, which was one of 3 finalists in this site's contest. They can be made in mini-size - that's the way I usually do them.

                            If you are considering giving the kidlets juice, I recommend diluting it with water or club soda, by close to a half. It will still have flavor, but less sugar per servig.

                            1. Fruit salsa (really a small cut fruit salad with a bit of lemon juice and a few tbl of jam added for consistency) with cinnamon/sugar tortilla 'chips' (flour tortillas cut into triangles, dash of cinnamon/sugar, and baked until hard).

                              ants on a log (cream cheese or greek yogurt instead of peanut butter)

                              cheese sticks/whole grain crackers

                              natural applesauce

                              sesame or pumpkin seeds

                              1. String cheese and grapes. 'Juice' has more sugar in it than the baked goods they're discouraging. They can drink water.

                                1. First, gift the school 2 or 3 of these. http://www.forsmallhands.com/glass-pi... Then pick up some some juice glasses from Smart and Final or a restaurant supply store.

                                  A preschooler should be pouring their own water and there is no reason to serve anything but water.

                                  And there should be no trash waste at the end of the meal. No single serving, etc.

                                  Second, many of the suggested snacks have too much sugar and empty calories for a snack. Preschoolers do not need a meal at snack time and they don't need a treat every day. There is no way standard muffins or a nutrigrain bar should qualify as an everyday snack for a preschooler

                                  Fresh fruit + protein + a small amount of carb

                                  whole milk yogurt parfaits with unsweetened yogurt
                                  fruit + almond or sunbutter and whole wheat pita
                                  fruit + tofu skewers with a little dipping sauce + crispy seaweed
                                  fruit + onigiri + miso soup
                                  fruit + cheese + crackers
                                  fruit + oatmeal

                                  very healthy muffins such as variations on weelicious
                                  whole grain pancakes with fruit inside, no topping
                                  black bean dip + unsalted tortilla chips
                                  guacamole + unsalted tortilla chips

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: JudiAU

                                    Fresh fruit=large amount of carbs, mostly simple

                                    why the need to add more?

                                    1. re: JudiAU

                                      I'm glad I grew up in the early 60's when kids (and Mom's) were allowed to just enjoy their food. And have snacks every day.

                                      1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                        and when nobody was carb-counting for preschoolers.

                                        1. re: chartreauxx

                                          If we hadn't been feeding them like feedlot heifers on grains and restricted protein or fat for decades, we wouldn't have to do it now, either.

                                          But look at the results. "Adult onset diabetes" transformed into a pediatric disease within a single generation.

                                          We weren't going home to meals of pizza and pasta, protein and dairy were emphasized in the food groups.

                                      2. re: JudiAU

                                        "Fresh fruit + protein + a small amount of carb"

                                        Fresh fruit is a carb, sugar mostly. Why the redundancy of adding another carby food?

                                        1. re: JudiAU

                                          That's ridiculous for a PRESCHOOLER! I wouldn't even eat half that stuff. Be real most kids wont. My little one has late lunch so snack is essential since breakfast is at 600 a and lunch 1230. That may work for adults but not little ones. Thankfully at her school we only have to provide snack for our own kid. Now ours is dry snack only and zero nuts. No nuts at all and no applesauce, yogurt or miso soup :sarcastically: kids in us are not going to eat that crap stop dreaming

                                          1. re: aley51102

                                            I'm not sure where in the "US" you are but they do in Los Angeles and our preschool is only about 5% Asian. Percentage of kids at our preschool who are excited for miso soup as snack, 95%. One kid is allergic to soy.

                                            You do know this is a website for people who like food, right? Many of them have little people who like food too.

                                        2. Take a few whole wheat tortillas, spread with cream cheese, and layer in some baby spinach, pico di gallo and chopped or shredded chicken...roll, chill, slice and serve! You can make them the night before. You could also do ones with cream cheese, hummus, sun dried tomatoes and spinach, in case there are kids who don't eat meat. Takes no time. Sliced apples with a greek yogurt/honey dip is good too!

                                          1. Did they give any suggestions? Also, does it need to be able to stay at room temperature or can it be something that requires a freezer/microwave/refrigeration?

                                            When I was teaching preschool, popcorn was always a favourite. The kids went wild for the stuff.

                                            Mini pizzas on english muffins--my students would eat that sort of thing cold in their lunch boxes.

                                            Chex mix/trail mix (no nuts necessary!)

                                            Can you use almond butter or sunflower seed butter? Graham crackers with almond/sunflower seed butter--yum!
                                            Ants on a log could go with the almond butter as well.

                                            Cut up fruit in ziploc baggies. As the seasons change, your fruit can change! If you want to get creative, you can also "skewer" some fruit onto pretzel sticks--think bananas, strawberries, etc.Orange slices, although those tend to make sticky fingers...tables...clothes ;)

                                            Could you send 100% fruit Popsicles?

                                            Applesauce/fruit purees (no sugar added!) or 100% fruit "leathers"

                                            There are lots of veggie options--snap peas, carrots, celery, grape tomatoes, etc. Also in snack bags. Hummus or a dip can go into small paper cups if you're feeling ambitious.

                                            Watermelon sliced into wedges. Kids can use the rind to hold. Mmm...

                                            Yogurt (cups or tubes) with some granola if you want to fancy it up. Also could send some apple slices or similar to dip into yogurt.

                                            Make sandwiches and cut them out with little cookie cutters. Simple cheese-bread-meat or jam-cream cheese or almond butter. That makes it snack sized AND interestingly shaped. Win!

                                            Baked goods can be healthy. Check out some of the Healthy Mom Blogs ;) peasandthankyou has some good snack recipes. Think mini muffins or half-sized cookies. Also, savoury muffins would be easy and welcome.

                                            If you happen to know the 'theme' of the week, you can also use that for ideas. If the color of the week is red, send strawberries! If it's oceans, send goldfish. For bug week, use pipe-cleaners and make your snack bags into butterflies. Around thanksgiving, send in pumpkin muffins or turkey sandwiches. Or mix dried cranberries into your popcorn.

                                            I would stick with water for drinks. As a teacher, that's what I WANTED parents to send in, even though I allowed juice boxes and such.
                                            Finally, remember that you will never be able to please all the kids (or parents!). Do what you can that won't stress you out. Yay for preschool :)

                                            1. Fruit compote: use applesauce for the base, add in pieces of whole fruit (fresh or canned, like apples, peaches, pear), season with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and a bit of lemon juice, and bake in a low oven (about 275) for about 1-2 hours to let the flavors meld. Can be reheated at school if there is a microwave, or eaten at room temperature.

                                              1. School snacks, ugh, bane of my existence trying to come up with a healthy rotation of snacks. No fridge in the classroom, so I usually stick with mini pretzels, popcorn, quartered oranges, grapes (when they're on sale), small apples and always water, no juice allowed.

                                                1. Some steamed, shelled edamame would be nice. If there are freezers available, I would bring a healthy, fruit based popsicle. Also, someone mentioned something on skewers, it might be preferable to use less-pointy popsicle sticks. Four-year olds tend to be accident prone.

                                                  1. For preschoolers you have to keep it simple. Fruit, cheese cubes, crackers or pretzels. Hummus with baby carrots and pita chips is another option.

                                                    A couple other things I have brought successfully if you want to mix it up a bit:

                                                    Banana chia muffins: http://www.runningtothekitchen.com/20...
                                                    These are pretty good for a healthy muffin, the kids really liked them, they are sugar free and high in protein, also very easy to make. They have nuts but not peanuts.

                                                    I've done a green smoothie made with frozen mango, kale, banana, cashews and water. The kids LOVED this. Again, this has nuts for protein but no peanuts.

                                                    For beverage: definitely water.

                                                    Most 4 year olds are suspicious of unfamiliar foods so I wouldn't go to any great lengths to get creative.

                                                    1. {Preschool kids like things really, really simple (I was a daycare center cook for a season). No need to make mini-roll-ups.

                                                      Cheese cubes. Carrot sticks. Whole wheat crackers.
                                                      Hummus. Whole wheat crackers.
                                                      Falafel. Cucumber sticks.
                                                      Cut up oranges.
                                                      Dried apricots (the soft kind). Raisins.
                                                      Fresh pineapple cubes (from a really sweet pineapple).
                                                      Watermelon and cantaloupe cubes.
                                                      Red and green pepper sticks.