20+ Easy On-the-Go Snacks for Kids That Involve Zero Cooking
Before I had my daughter, I read that book about French parenting, Bringing Up Bebe. While there were lots of things I imagined I could get on board with, the author mentioned that French children do not snack. They only eat at meals. I knew even then that I would only be able to go so far with French parenting, adorable cheese courses notwithstanding.
It turns out that my daughter is a lot like me in this regard, and I’m always trying to think of snacks that pair balance with deliciousness, mixing it up a little so neither of us gets bored. Now that the weather is hot, I’m also trying to find things that don’t require me to turn on a heat creating appliance. If you’re in a bit of a snack rut, or just looking for something new to add to your rotation, read on for some ideas you can make your own, no cooking required.
When the weather is hot, there is nothing like a smoothie. Start with some basic recipes and then start riffing based on what you and your family like. At our house, we are all about banana, peanut butter, and cocoa powder, with milk, ice cubes, and a little Greek yogurt.
Get a Recipe: Strawberry Smoothie or Peanut Butter & Chocolate Green Smoothie
On-the-Go Tip: I make a big blender full of this and put it into lidded cups or Mason jars. For an extra cool treat, try freezing into popsicle molds.
What I love about spring roll wrappers is that you can quickly and securely wrap just about anything neatly, so that it’s easily transportable. Pick your child’s favorite veggie, meat, and cheese combo, add a chicken salad, or try fruit rolls.
Get a Recipe: Summer Fruit Spring Rolls or Chinese Chicken Salad Spring Rolls
On-the-Go Tip: Save or set aside small containers for dipping sauces, easy to stash with the rolls in a Bento box, which can also function as a plate.
A tortilla is a blank canvas for so many delicious combinations. Add a spread (hummus or guacamole is a favorite for us). Sometimes we stop there, but you can add cheese, deli meat, veggies, whatever you want. While I usually gravitate toward savory wraps, you can also go sweet with peanut butter, honey, fruit, chocolate chips — the sky is the limit.
Get a Recipe: Peanut Butter, Banana, and Granola Wrap
DIY Snack Mix
Sure, you could buy the store bought stuff, but maybe your kid isn’t wild about some of the components, or you’re hoping to get away from processed foods and additives. Create your own snack mix with things you and your child like, and things you feel good about feeding them. If your kid is old enough to help you choose, this can be a fun activity to do together. Consider dried fruit, nuts, pretzels, or cereal.
Get a Recipe: Deluxe Tropical Trail Mix
On-the-Go Tip: If you’re adding chocolate, or other melting hazards, this might be best in a small cooler while out and about.
Another highly customizable snack which doubles as a hands on learning activity. Plus, seaweed is loaded with health benefits.
Get a Recipe: Veggie Nori Rolls
On-the-Go Tip: If you’re not using raw fish, feel free to make up a bunch of these to keep on hand in the fridge.
The great thing about this shape is that it’s easy to hold and eat. Although cheese obviously comes to mind, branch out with deli meat, veggies, and fruits. Zucchini, summer squash, and jicama stand up to this particularly well, along with solid fruits like apples and pears.
On-the-Go Tip: If you do want to go for a softer fruit or veggie, try wrapping it in a piece of deli meat for better grip and less mess. Your kid (and you) will feel like you’re eating fancy appetizers.
Tea party or not, who doesn’t like sandwiches in a smaller size, maybe in different shapes or with the crusts cut off? These can be sweet, like a Nutella and sliced strawberry sandwich, or savory, with cream cheese and meat, or hummus and cucumber. We’ve made some pretty odd combinations, so no judgement here.
On-the-Go Tip: The best way to make these ahead is to cover both inner sides of bread with spread to prevent any liquid from the filling soaking in. I’ve learned the hard way that these travel best when I make sure everything sticks together well, sometimes an extra layer of spread in the middle does the trick so you don’t lose the filling.
In the early postpartum period, fruit and granola bars got me through the hunger pangs, but while I love the convenience, sometimes I’d like to mix up the flavors. Plus, you’re going to save a fair amount of money making them yourself, with minimal effort. You can always make them in mini sizes or fun shapes, too, to make them easy to pick up for little hands.
Get a Recipe: Copycat RX Bars
On-the-Go Tip: Depending on your bar, you might want to keep them in the fridge, or even freezer, before heading out the door.
There’s nothing better than the bounty of fruit in the summer. The only thing that takes some bloom off the rose? Not getting to it before it goes bad. My best strategy is to make a big fruit salad over the weekend, packing in glass containers or jars for on the go. It’s visually stunning and right in front of me, so no more kiwis descend into sad puddles.
Get a Recipe: Fruit Salad in a Jar
On-the-Go Tip: This one is best with a utensil. Don’t be afraid to branch out and try a lettuceless salad in a jar, too.
Energy balls are fun to eat, and a great project to get your kids involved in. Don’t be afraid to sub out similar ingredients for your favorites.
Get a Recipe: Plantain Power Balls (technically this requires baking, but if you want to stick to no-bake, see the bottom for a banana substitute) or 5-Ingredient No-Bake Protein Balls
On-the-Go Tip: Freeze these on a cookie sheet and then place in a bag to easily get out what you need.
Chia Pudding or Overnight Oats
My daughter thinks she’s pulling a fast one, getting me to let her eat dessert for breakfast or a snack, but these little jars are packed full of nutrients and energy, and they taste amazing.
Get a Recipe: How To Make Creamy, Vegan Chia Pudding or Blueberry Pie Overnight Oats
On-the-Go Tip: You’ll want a spoon for this one. Jars make this easy to grab and go.
Dip with Substance
My kid loves dip, nearly any kind. If she had her way, she might just eat a dip for dinner. If you can relate, why not turn it to your advantage: add some veggies and other fixings to hummus, make a sweet cream cheese dip and add fruit, or get more elaborate with the recipes below.
Get a Recipe: Spicy California Roll Dip (this one’s spicy, so maybe best for older kids) or Best-Ever 7-Layer Dip
On-the-Go Tip: Bring along chips, veggies, or a spoon. Try one of these portable snack and dip containers for easy carrying!
Avocado toast has been having a moment for some time now, but why stop there? Heap your sweet or savory toast with hummus, sliced hard boiled eggs, fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds. Mash a banana, a peach, or experiment with pizza toast.
Get a Recipe: Avocado Toast Two Ways, for Mama & Baby or Toast with Hummus & Veggies
On-the-Go Tip: Try putting less sticky ingredients on top and putting two slices together so that the dry side is facing out for travel.
Fruit and Veggie Sandwiches
Not only are fruit sandwiches adorable, but they might just be a little less messy. Try the apple sandwich above, experiment with other fruits, and don’t be afraid to go savory (like a cucumber hummus sandwich).
On-the-Go Tip: If you’re making these ahead, brush on a little lemon juice to help delay browning.
My daughter loves yogurt, but I don’t love all the sugar and additives. I either make my own yogurt or buy a plain version I feel good about. Then, I can doctor it with fruits, jams, nut butters — those little premade cups have nothing on me.
Get a Recipe: Fruit on the Bottom Yogurt Cups
Get a Recipe: Make a larger batch for home, or smaller cups or jars for on the go. Don’t forget the spoon!
This post was originally published July 13, 2021.