6 Easy, Healthy Lunchbox Snack Swaps for Kids (and Parents!)

March 14, 2016
by Michelle Pellizzon for Thrive Market
6 Easy, Healthy Lunchbox Snack Swaps for Kids (and Parents!)

You know those sugary cereal boxes you pass without a second glance every time you grocery shop? They’re designed specifically to attract kids. Gazing longingly into the eyes of the cartoon characters plastered on the front, they might beg and plead for you to buy whatever their new friends are schilling. It’s no mistake that child-friendly cereals and snacks are placed lower on shelves—the perfect spot to attract tiny humans. Even the cartoon’s gaze is slanted downward to match little ones’ eyelines.

Sadly, a lot of these foods marketed specifically to kids are full of stuff you probably don’t want them eating—high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and colors, and other weird chemicals you probably can’t even pronounce. But you don’t need to feel guilty about what you feed your children. As organic, all-natural foods get more popular, there are more and more healthy options for kids’ snacks that actually taste really good and don’t cost any more than their less-healthy competitors—especially when you shop at Thrive Market. We’ve got over 4,000 wholesome, healthy products, so parents of even the pickiest eaters have plenty of snacks to choose from.

Potato chips

They’re a lunchbox staple that every kid will finish, but potato chips don’t add a ton in terms of nutrition to a kid’s plate. Usually fried in peanut or soybean oil, loaded with excess sodium, and practically oozing with trans fats, those crispy chips are basically just empty calories.

Better: Baked potato chips

With way less sodium and just three grams of fat per serving, baked potato chips are a better option than their deep-fried counterparts—but they taste almost exactly the same. Nobody at the lunch table will know the difference.

Best: Sprouted black bean chips

“Sprouted black beans” won’t get kids excited, but salty, crunchy “tortilla chips”? Yep, those are always a hit. Because they’re made out of black beans, quinoa, and non-GMO corn, these restaurant-style chips fool little ones into eating more fiber, protein, and vitamins. Pair them with fresh salsa or guacamole for veggie-filled snack time—and call them whatever you want.

Granola bars

Despite the fact that they seem to contain healthy oats, dried fruits, and nuts, most granola bars marketed for kids are held together by a generous amount of sugar and HFCS (high ftuctose corn syrup)—which essentially negates the value of their “good” ingredients. Swap in something just as easy, but with less sugar and more fiber to balance and regulate kids’ energy levels.

Better: Bars made with ancient grains

Why settle for plain old oats when you can get a bar with millet, buckwheat, quinoa, and amaranth? The ancient grains in KIND bars ensure kids get their recommended daily value of whole grains, which help fuel healthy brains and bodies.

Best: Organic, Paleo, dairy-free, gluten-free bars

Even adults will be obsessed with these! They’re soft, flavorful, and packed with yummy ingredients. It starts with a master recipe (nuts + honey + vanilla + sea salt + herbs) with an emphasis on functional herbs—adaptogens—a special class of plants that, according to proponents, seems to have a normalizing effect on the body and may be able to adapt to whatever the body is dealing with, like stress, anxiety, or fatigue. Plus with three different flavors, there’s something for everyone.

Fruity candy

Lunch boxes almost don’t feel complete unless there’s a sweet treat tucked in between the PB&J and baby carrots—but arming your kid with sugary candy practically guarantees an afternoon meltdown. Naturally sweetened snacks made with fiber help slow digestion of sugar, eliminating sugar highs (and lows.)

Better: Organic fruit snacks

Gummy bears won’t stand a chance against these flavorful, organic, and non-GMO fruity snacks. They’re individually wrapped, and therefore super easy to throw into backpacks or keep in the car for a quick bite.

Best: Fruit and veggie strips

Think Fruit by the Foot, but better! Apple puree, pear puree, strawberry puree, lemon juice, and strawberry juice—no added sugars or artificial flavors are tucked inside these sweet, berry-flavored fruit strips—perfect for kiddos.

Want even more healthy parenting inspiration, ideas, and projects? Head to our YouTube channel and watch as experts like Jillian Michaels and Zelana Montminy dish on how to raise healthy and happy kids.

Photo credit: Alicia Cho

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This article is related to: Diet, Healthy Kids, Lunch Recipes, Nutrition, Organic, Paleo, Vegetarian, Moms

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