NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Planning for Snacks

Planning for Snacks


            Aren’t snacks supposed to be spontaneous?  Something we just grab on a whim after a growl of our tummies?   For many of us, that is exactly what happens but what also happens is that the snacks we grab so easily are often ones that are too fatty, too salty, too high in calories and too low in nutrition.  Ugh –almost makes one lose their appetite.

            Ideally, a snack is a food and/or beverage consumed between meals when you are hungry or bored. It should be:

             •nutrient-rich and planned as part of your daily menu.

             •satisfying enough to “tide” you over until the next meal without spoiling your appetite.

             •smaller than a regular meal.

             •quick, convenient and easy to make.

             •tasty and eye-appealing.

             •low in fat, sodium, cholesterol, added sugars and alcohol

            Planned snacks help you stay committed to a healthy diet. They also help to balance out the menu, especially if you are planning for children. Make snacking creative, interesting and fun by consuming an array of healthful foods and beverages in moderation.

            Smart snacking tips include:

             •Choose a solid snack, which satisfies longer than a liquid snack. Research shows that people eat less food at mealtime if they consume a solid snack than a liquid snack with the same amount of calories.

             •Vegetables and fruits are good snack choices, because they are low in calories and high in fiber, vitamins and minerals. They also can decrease the risk for certain cancers and heart disease. Seasonal vegetables and fruits taste great and are less expensive.

             •Choose snacks that provide dietary fiber as well as other nutrients. Some good sources of dietary fiber are fresh fruits with edible seeds (berries) or skins (apples, peaches), dried fruits, raw vegetables and whole- grain bread or crackers (whole-wheat, rye).

             •Enjoy a lean-protein food with a small amount of fat. This makes you feel satisfied and staves off hunger longer. Protein takes longer to digest, and fat helps slow the amount of time that food reaches your intestines from the stomach.

             •Surround yourself with healthy snacks in small portions. Stash them in your refrigerator, desk drawer, briefcase, backpack, gym bag and car.

             •Try new food or different forms of your old favorites, such as frozen bananas or grapes.

             •Eat sensible portions. Single-serve containers can help you limit portion sizes. Choose the smallest plate, bowl or container possible, because the bigger the container, the more you tend to eat, although you think you’re eating the same amount. Don’t eat directly from the package. Skip “super” and “mega” size drinks and snacks.



            Children and snacks need special consideration.  Your child learns snack habits by watching you, so be a good role model.  Avoid “mindlessly” snacking while watching TV or doing another activity. Let your child decide when they’ve had enough. If they are still hungry after eating an amount appropriate for their age, then let them ask for more.  Sometimes children say they’re hungry when they really want attention – try a hug before offering a cookie!

            Whatever your age, for a satisfying and healthy mid-afternoon snack, try:

 •apple or banana with peanut butter

 •string cheese or individually wrapped cheese slices

 •carrot sticks or other ready-to-eat raw veggies with low-fat dressing or tofu dip

 •cereal with milk

 •fruit and yogurt smoothie

 •fortified cereal bar

 •fruit flavored yogurt

 •frozen fruit bar

 •canned fruit packed in juice

 •peanut butter and pretzels

 •whole-wheat crackers with bean dip

 •hummus (chickpea dip) and pita bread

 •salsa and baked tortilla chips

 •100% unsweetened fruit or vegetable juice

 •glass of plain or chocolate milk

 •hard-cooked egg

 •trail mix (ready-to-eat cereals mixed with raisins or other dried fruit)

 •¼ cup nuts

 •¼ cup sunflower seeds


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