One thing I love about this blog is having the opportunity to write about whatever is on my mind. And at the moment, what is on my mind is finding the perfect food and snacks to bring along to the pool.
About halfway through the summer, I gave in and bought a pool pass to our public pool, and we have been there quite a lot. It has been, overall, wonderful. Since we spend at least a few hours there at a time, I have no choice but to pack a considerable amount of food for the boys (ages 5 years and 21 months) and for myself (watching my weight).
I am pretty particular about what kinds of foods I will give to my kids. Unless we are on a trip or something like that, I really don’t buy fruit snacks, goldfish crackers, or graham crackers, much less chips, cookies, or candy. I am not a total health nut, but I try to be very aware of what kinds of habits I am setting up for my kids.
Why no fruit snacks? Well, they are just too much on the “junk food” end of the spectrum. Mainly sugar and not very filling for the amount of calories the kiddos are taking in (I am not swayed by “Made with real juice!!!!!!!” plastered on the packaging).
Why no goldfish crackers? All kids love goldfish, right? Well, that is exactly my concern. Those crackers are so salty and cheezy, it seems to me that we are just setting kids up for a potato chip habit. I know that both of my kids would eat goldfish by the handful, given the chance, because they are so yummy. It’s the “Bet you can’t eat just one” syndrome. Nothing wrong with wanting to eat handfuls of yummy food, but given the chance I would like my kids to be gobbling up foods thare are more on the whole/natural end of the spectrum.
Why no graham crackers? Aren’t they a rite of childhood? It would seem so, if you ask my MIL. Again, graham crackers have a pretty high “yummy factor” (thanks to the added sugar) but even the ones that are “Made with point 2 grams of whole grain per serving!!!!!” are a little too processed for me to feel good about giving to my kids on a regular basis. It’s not that I don’t give them any processed food – I am well aware of that – but in my world graham crackers are more of a treat than a staple. I just don’t think they are very filling, and I already feel like I’m shoveling food in front of my boys all day long just to keep the “I’m hungry”s at bay.
So, what to pack for snacks for the pool? It comes down to a balance of convenience and yummy-ness. Here are some things that have worked, and not worked, for us —
- Yogurt in a tube (Go-Gurt) – My 5yo likes these and can eat them without making too much of a mess. I like the protein and calcium, and we buy the version that has no HFCS or artifical flavors. I am aware that there is a fair amount of added sugar in these, but over time I have decided to accept that trade-off. The only real downside is that my 21mo son sometimes gets upset because he wants one, too — and that is a mess I just don’t want to deal with when we’re out and about.
- String Cheese -The 5yo claims he doesn’t like these, but I usually hold firm and say that if he’s truly hungry, he will eat some (he used to eat them all the time). I’m not a huge fan of all the sodium in these, but I do buy the “Light” kind so they are high in protein and low in fat and calories. Also portable and not messy!
- Snack Mix (made from Cheerios, raisins, and lightly salted peanuts) – Both kids seem to really like this, and the convenience factor can’t be beat, including the fact that leftovers aren’t a problem (unlike sandwiches). Cheerios are a processed food, to be sure, but since they are low in added sugar and have some other factors going for them, such as fiber, I do consider them a staple at our house.
- Wasa crispbread – I was really gung-ho on these for awhile. I would pack a jar of peanut butter (either natural or Smart Balance) and make peanut butter crackers for the kids on the spot. There are so many reasons I like the Wasa, but after awhile I got tired of the kids not really wanting to eat them. It seemed they like the “Whole Grain” type better than the “Multi-Grain” type, whereas for me, it’s the other way around.
- Ry Krisp crackers, sesame flavor. Both kids seem to like these, even plain, and the nutritionals are pretty good. I tend to buy these instead of Wheat Thins, Triscuits, and the like, because it seems like the nutritionals are better (lower sodium, lower fat, good amount of fiber, and so on).
- Greek Yogurt (individual packs) – for myself. They are yummy and convenient (so long as I keep some spoons in the cooler) and filling (hello, protein!) and just 2 Points (Weight Watchers) each.
- Apples – Cut into small pieces. My 5yo always welcomes these, and so does Little Brother (sometimes). Obviously very nutritious and filling.
What about you? What do you buy as a staple for your home, and what as once-in-awhile treats? What are your go-to items for trips to the pool, park, and elsewhere?