No-Stress School Snacks

When you have to supply the munchies for your kid's class or team, go with one of these smart picks.

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    I used to dread my turn for what's become a ritual in many preschools and elementary schools -- sending in snacks for the whole class. For school newbies, think of it as your snack dilemma for playdates times ten. It's hard enough to find something one kid will eat, let alone 20 -- each with his own food eccentricity. Then there are a slew of school rules and sometimes pressure from other moms who think your choices are too healthy or even not healthy enough. Still, by mid-year I found a groove. By the end, I was rockin'. Share in my snack roster.

  • Peter Ardito

    Juicy Idea

    A winning alternative to the ever-popular orange slices at soccer games: a crate of clementines. They're much easier for young kids to peel and hold, and they're packed with vitamin C. 35 calories, 0 fat

  • Peter Ardito

    Cup Holders

    Use paper cups to serve finger food like this trail mix. Combine 4 cups cereal, 1 cup dried cherries, 1 cup soy nuts (they're typically safe for peanut-allergic kids, but check the label), and ? cup mini chocolate chips. Send in with 24 3-oz. cups. 82 calories, 3g fat

  • Sweet & Crunchy

    What's better than veggies with dip? Veggies with fruit. Our fave combo: 12 purple grapes (slice for kids under age 4) and 6 sugar snap peas in a mini sealed bag. 64 calories, 0 fat

  • Peter Ardito

    Popcorn Pouches

    Kids ages 4 and over will love noshing on their own bag of air-popped corn sweetened with cinnamon and a little dried fruit. Scoop about 2 to 3 cups into a small paper bag and seal with a sticker. 118 calories, 1g fat

  • Peter Ardito

    Blue Bagels

    Smash ? cup fresh blueberries into 1 cup reduced-fat cream cheese, or puree frozen ones in the blender and mix in. Spread 2 Tbs. cheese on mini whole-wheat bagels (Pepperidge Farm and Sara Lee make them). Each child gets half a bagel. 93 calories, 3g fat

  • Peter Ardito

    Dessert Downsized

    Make mini banana, blueberry, bran, or carrot muffins from your favorite healthy recipe, or search parents.com/food for some inspiration. 81 calories, 2 g fat

  • Apple Twist

    Make classic snacks a little, well, cooler. Freeze small containers of unsweetened applesauce overnight for a slushy treat -- and a serving of fruit. Or do the same with low-fat yogurt. 50 calories, 0 fat

  • Peter Ardito

    Fruity Franks

    This snack is so clever the kids will tell their moms about it: Spread the inside of a whole-wheat hot dog bun with 1 1/2 tablespoons of sunflower butter (it's typically safe for nut-free schools; check the label to be sure). Place a peeled banana inside and slice down the middle. Each kid gets half. 187 calories, 7g fat

  • Michael Kraus

    A Cut Above

    If your kid's school gives snack after recess, send in watermelon on a warm day to help re-hydrate the class. Slice like pizza so kids have the rind to hold onto to. 40 calories, 0 fat

  • Peter Ardito

    Ladybugs on a Log

    If your school's nut-free policy squashes traditional ants on a log, fill 3" to 4" long celery sticks with about 2 Tbs. Laughing Cow light cheese spread and dot with dried cranberries. 89 calories, 3g fat

  • Peter Ardito

    Out of the Box

    Need a snack last-minute? Buy a few packages of Annie's Homegrown Berry Berry Granola bars. They're whole grain and have a reasonable 5 grams of sugar per serving. 120 calories, 4g fat

  • In Shape

    Fill round whole-grain pitas with hummus and shredded carrot -- a yummy combo. Slice into quarters for easy handling; each kid gets two. 114 calories, 2g fat

    Originally published in the September 2011 issue of Parents magazine.