Summer is a glorious time of year with long, lazy days, poolside adventures, and bike rides exploring all the warmer weather has to offer. But nothing can put a damper on these sunshiny days like the hangries. Whether your two-year-old is having a meltdown, dad is getting the four o’clock blues, or mom’s blood sugar is plummeting, healthy (and easy) snacks are essential for making the most of your playtime this summer.
First off, prepare yourself with the necessary gear needed to haul an arsenal of tasty goodies. Invest in some reusable snack bags that are machine washable and/or dishwasher safe. Next, a stainless steel water bottle (for everyone), will keep cold drinks frigid when the heat rises, and you need liquid refreshment. Sealable and secure plasticware will make storing snacks a breeze. And finally, use an insulated tote (or backpack) to keep everyone’s loot cool and keep you organized when hunger strikes.
The first thing to think about when packing snacks is a balance of nutrients to keep energy at its peak. While carbs are often the go-to tummy filler, protein has a slow burn that will give you more bang for your buck (especially with kids), and fiber helps absorb the necessary nutrients in food, helping food do its job. Put in the leg work ahead of time with these easy snack ideas and reap major rewards all season.
1. Trail Mix
Trail mix has come a long way since the days of GORP (Good Old Raisins and Peanuts). Make a trip to your local grocery store’s bulk foods aisle and personalize trail mix for every member of the family. Someone doesn’t like dried cranberries? No problem! The initial investment in this haul will pay off big when little Timmy and big sister Judy gobble down their perfectly curated mix of yogurt covered raisins, pistachios, and dried apricots.
2. Hard-boiled Eggs
Hard-boiled eggs are great pint-sized snacks with their very own protection. To make hard-boiled eggs, bring a pot of water to boil, and then gently lower the eggs into the water. Let the eggs simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, and then remove them from heat. Place the eggs on a dishtowel on the counter and let them cool to room temperature for perfectly cooked eggs with easy-to-peel shells. Once the eggs are cool, get the kids involved by having them decorate their eggshells with markers—making them easy to identify in the sea of snacks.
It’s no secret that kids love dipping things. And if dip gets them to eat their veggies, bring it on.
Hummus is an excellent accompaniment to any vegetable, and this partnership pleases kids and grownups alike. Create a delectable rainbow of veggies with tomatoes, carrots, yellow bell peppers, cucumbers, and purple carrots—they’re portable, sturdy, keep well, and delicious!
4. Greek Yogurt Honey Dip
Add some depth and flavor to already delicious summer fruits with greek yogurt honey dip. Combine ½ cup greek yogurt, 1 ½ Tbsp. of honey, 1 Tbsp. of almond butter, ¼ tsp. of vanilla, and ⅛ tsp. of cinnamon. Sliced apples, strawberries, grapes, and blackberries go great with this yummy dip.
5. Yogurt Sticks
Popsicles can be messy and are full of added sugars. Upgrade your frozen treats by stashing a handful of yogurt sticks in the freezer. Toss them in your cooler the day of an outing, and they will gradually defrost. Individual yogurt pops are the perfect poolside treat, and they’re packed with protein.
6. Charcuterie Picnic
For a special outing, try a mini charcuterie picnic. Slices of cheese and salami, nuts, olives, whole grain crackers, and a handful of berries can make an ordinary picnic seem special and offer a variety of choices to please everyone. Bento Boxes can make this type of lunch playful and enjoyable, and kids love to build their own creations.
7. Veggie Farro Salad
For something more substantial and lasting, whip up a veggie farro salad. Haven’t heard of farro? It’s an ancient grain packed with nutrients. A half cup of farro has 12 grams of protein, 10 grams of fiber, and is loaded with essential vitamins and minerals like magnesium and zinc.
To make this salad, boil and drain a bag of 10-minute farro (cook it like pasta until the desired doneness). Blanch a handful of diced vegetables (carrots, peppers, and green beans), and then drain and combine them with farro in a large bowl. Add diced celery, a handful of chopped herbs, and toss in 1/2 cup or 1 cup of herbed vinaigrette. This filling and tasty meal is perfect for a picnic dinner, and it can be stored in the fridge for multiple days.
8. Black Bean Corn Salsa
Add a Southwestern kick to your snack bag with black bean corn salsa and tortilla chips. All you’ll need for this recipe is a can of corn (or fresh corn from the cob), a can of black beans, and a large tub of pico de gallo. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, add a pinch or two of salt, and voila! This salsa will keep for up to a week (if it doesn’t get eaten first), is great to add to a bento box, and adds a spicy kick to your summer menu. Tip: Store tortilla chips in a large Tupperware-type container to prevent them from breaking and crumbling.
Whatever your adventure, remember that nutritious food not only keeps your family healthy and happy, but it can also bring everyone together as you prepare food and gather around to eat. Customizable and personalized snacks don’t have to take a lot of time with the right preparation, recipes, and gear. With these fun, healthy, tasty meals, you’ll enjoy a delicious and adventurous summer.
Written by Jordan Martindell for Matcha in partnership with BCBS of AL and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.