Healthy Children - October 2012


Smart Snacking

Audience: Adults

Healthy Low-Cost Snack Ideas

Preparation Time
5 min
Activity Time
15 min
Easel pad markers
Preparation Prior to Class
1. Assemble the easel and place a pad on the easel.
2. Determine whether a brainstorm or facilitated group discussion will be the most effective teaching strategy.
1. Warmly welcome participants, creating a comfortable environment where they feel valued and safe being open and honest.
2. Begin by explaining that most young children need to have four to six mini-meals per day.
3. Review smart snacking tips and give parents basic information on what to consider when determining whether a snack is healthy (nutrient dense vs. empty calorie).
4. Introduce the purpose of this activity, which is to get ideas for nutritious low-cost snacks that other parents have discovered their preschool children enjoy.
5. Start with an icebreaker: What is your favorite snack?
6. Record participant responses to the icebreaker on the easel pad.
7. Discuss results: Is there a snack that is a favorite of many? Is there a snack that is a favorite of only one? Is there a wide variety of snacks represented?
8. If you are leading a brainstorm, review brainstorming rules: Any idea is fine – no comments on the ideas of others. It is okay to build on someone else’s idea. Yell your ideas out. We will discuss the ideas later. If you are not leading a brainstorm, go to step 11.
9. Move into the brainstorming questions: What is your preschool child’s favorite fruit? What unusual fruit does your child enjoy? How did your child start eating that fruit? What have you done to get your child to try a new fruit?
10. Record participant responses to brainstorming questions on the easel pad.
11. If you are facilitating a group discussion instead of a brainstorm or need to move the brainstorm along, share each suggestion prompt below:
  • Fruits: fresh (with or without low-fat yogurt dip), frozen or canned.
  • Frozen fruit juice on a popsicle stick.
  • Raw vegetables: plain or with low-fat dip/dressing.
  • Low-fat dairy: yogurt, cheese cut in shapes, cottage cheese, and milk.
  • Whole-grains: bread, pita bread, breadsticks, cereal, crackers, and muffins.
  • Combinations of the above items.

Ideas for more substantial snacks that require some preparation:
Whole-grains with protein:
  • Toasted English muffin with peanut butter.
  • Bread or bagel with peanut butter.
  • 1/2 sandwich made with whole-grain bread or pita bread and peanut butter, low-fat cheese, egg salad or tuna salad.
  • Whole-wheat muffin or pita bread pizza.
  • Whole-grain tortilla with melted low-fat cheese.
  • Crackers with low-fat cheese or peanut butter.
  • Tortilla with low-fat refried beans.

Low-fat dairy and fruit:
  • Low-fat cottage cheese and fruit.
  • Low-fat yogurt and fruit.
  • Smoothie made with low-fat milk, yogurt and fruit.
  • Diced low-fat cheese and fruit kabobs.

Low-fat dairy and vegetable:
  • Low-fat cottage cheese with raw veggie sticks.
  • Low-fat cheese shapes with raw veggie sticks.
  • Baked potato with melted low-fat cheese.

Snacks that can be pre-portioned into small plastic bags for you to carry when traveling:
  • Whole-grain crackers.
  • Breadsticks.
  • Pretzels.
  • Cereal that can be eaten as a finger food.
  • Peanut butter sandwich made on crackers, bread or pita bread.
12. Use open-ended questions that will enable your participants to share how they have tried some of these snack ideas in the past or how they might try them in the future.
13. Do not call on participants, but allow an adequate amount of time for them to volunteer answers.
14. Affirm all responses.
15. Review and expand upon the information shared in the brainstorm or group discussion in a way that will summarize and motivate.
16. Ask the parents to name new nutritious low-cost snacks they will offer their children this week.
17. Help them feel good about themselves, and remind them that they are powerful as each small action they take can make a positive difference in the lives of their children.
Additional Discussion During the Activity
Discuss the Food Stamp Program:
  • Benefits of participation.
  • How to find out if they are eligible for this benefit and receive assistance completing the application.
  • Contact information for the local Nutrition Outreach and Education Program (NOEP) agency.

Reprinted from: CACFP, Child and Adult Care Food Program, New York State Department of Health.