Heading to the beach and packing snacks for kids? Here are some excellent ideas for a day of fun in the sun.
When the summer sun finally washes the marine layer away from the beach, it’s time to pack the kids into the car (or onto the bikes, wagons and scooters) and head to the beach for a fun day splashing in the waves, building sandcastles and swinging on the swings. All that fun is bound to make a kid (and their parents) hungry! These easy, but nutrition-filled snacks are the perfect solution.
Healthy Beach Snacks
You don’t want to leave the house without plenty of snacks, especially healthy snacks. Kids have special needs for certain nutrients at different ages, and healthy beach snacks are a great way for parents to help meet those nutritional needs.
Eating at the beach can be tricky, so we have some healthy and easy snack options. It’s hot, windy, and sand gets everywhere! Be sure to bring wet wipes to keep your hands clean and a large blanket that can maybe stay clear of all that salty sand. If you are bringing anything perishable, keep it in the shade in an insulated bag or cooler bag with ice packs to reduce food-borne illness, and throw out any perishable food that has been sitting in the hot sun for more than an hour (or 2 hours at room temperature). It is very important to limit the amount of time food sits out in the sun.
Spending a summer day in the sun can take a lot out of you. Choosing the right beach foods is important. Below are some of the best beach snacks, as recommended by a Registered Dietician Nutritionist.
8 Beach Friendly Super Snacks for Kids
For fun times at the beach, be sure to pack these easy, nutritious and beach-friendly snacks for kids:
- Banana. Bananas are easy beach snacks. It’s easy to peel little by little, diminishing sand accumulation. Plus, it’s fun for kids to hold and peel. Bananas are a key source of potassium for kids. Add some sunflower butter or almond butter (sometimes found in convenient squeeze tubes) for extra protein and vitamin E, a nutrient that is sometimes lacking in kids’ diets.
- Frozen Greek Yogurt tubes are a great beach snack. These come in all different flavors and are a healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth. These come in all different flavors. Be sure to look for ones with less added sugar (3 grams usually occur naturally in the tubes) and full fat dairy for little ones under age 2. Toss these in the freezer and bring them to the beach; they can be eaten thawed or frozen like ice cream! Plus, you don’t need to bring spoons and the trash is easy to pack out if trash cans are far away.
- Cut veggies with white bean or garbanzo bean hummus. Varieties of hummus can be found in mini to-go containers either on grocery shelves or the refrigerated aisle, and the veggies are easy to dip and eat without utensils or plates. My daughter loves cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumber sticks, thinly sliced carrots and celery sticks. Apple slices are also yummy with hummus. The veggies and hummus are high in vitamin C, E and B vitamins, while the hummus boasts iron and potassium, key nutrients for children.
- Berries! And, other fresh fruit are perfect for beach days. And other fruit. Strawberries and blueberries are easy and delish; just make sure to wash them before you leave the house. Fruits like berries and grapes (cut in half for kids under 3) are also great candidates for freezing and taking to the beach. Sliced apples, kiwi, pineapple, watermelon and sliced pears are also great options. If you don’t have anything fresh, bring dried fruit like apricots, dates, raisins or dried cherries.
- Crackers and cheese sticks are always a good choice. The quintessential snack, am I right? There’s something about crackers and cheese that just hits the spot when you are hungry from swimming and running around on the beach. Look for options that have whole grains as a first ingredient and contain at least 2 grams of dietary fiber per serving (most kids don’t get enough). The Kashi company and Trader Joe’s have some good options for kids. Cheese sticks can be found in a variety of flavors like cheddar, mozzarella, Colby and Colby Jack, etc. Look for low-fat string cheese to maximize satiety from protein in hungry older kids.
- Homemade snack mixes made with iron-fortified cereals. Mix together fortified cereals (check the label for added vitamins and minerals like iron), popcorn, dried fruit and nuts for a crunchy and sweet treat that doesn’t need to be kept cold. All the ingredients pack a nutritional punch for little ones, including vitamin D, potassium, fiber and iron. If you are making your own snack mix or trail mix, add things like nuts which are heart-healthy fats.
- Granola bars are a great snack option for the beach. Check the label for fiber and calories. A good rule for kids’ granola bars is that they be less than 150 calories and have at least 2 g of fiber. They can be a good way to combine food groups like grains (oats), fruit (raisins) and fun food (chocolate chips).
- Half a sandwich made with whole grain pita pockets are a great choice. Backpacks can tend to smoosh sandwiches, so why not bring one that’s already flat? Peanut butter, sunflower seed butter or almond butter sandwiches with 100% fruit spread are a classic choice for summer days at the beach. You can serve smaller kids ¼ pita pocket with veggies for a well-rounded snack. Serve with an easy pasta salad, made with low-fat dressing, for a complete meal.
Having fun in the sun burns a lot of energy. Staying hydrated is important to having a successful beach day. Along with your snacks, bring some water for kids, and be sure to stay hydrated. Water is the best choice at the beach because it doesn’t need to be kept cold like milk. Pack frozen water bottles. They will thaw throughout the day.
If you serve your child juice, remember that 4 ounces per day of 100% fruit juice is the recommended daily allowance for kids over 12 months. Sometimes adding just a splash of juice to water is enough to satisfy their taste and ensure they are drinking enough water on hot days. If your child sweats excessively and needs electrolytes, using a sports drink may be appropriate, depending on their age.
No more tossing a bag of chips into your beach tote. Packing healthy beach snacks for kids couldn’t be easier. The next time you are heading to the beach, be sure to come back and check this list.
What are your favorite healthy beach snacks for kids? Please share in our Local Anchor Facebook group.
Sarah Pruett Soufl, MS, RD is a non-diet Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who is passionate about helping families develop feeding and eating habits that help children cultivate life-giving relationships with food long-term. Learn more: souflnutrition.com
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