Kids love their school holiday parties. It’s a time when they get to take a break from their usual learning activities. They’re able to let loose with their friends, play holiday-themed games, and of course indulge in lots of sugary treats. However, for me as a parent, I’m not so excited about those parties. Too often, the focus of the party is on the food not the festivities. Most of the time the food is a variety of unhealthy, processed snacks. This means I need to find healthy packaged snacks to replace those offered at the party, so my son can still enjoy the party while maintaining healthy habits.
Some parents choose to become “Room Mom” or party planner. This way they control all of the snacks for the entire class. But, they have to be in charge of the whole party too. That is definitely not for me. I am at home with a 2 year old and a 10 year old with autism. I have no desire to plan, organize, and carry out any holiday parties. I’d much rather provide better treats for my son to bring in the day of the party.
I’ve composed a list of my top 10 healthy packaged snacks for your next holiday party. They would make great additions to school lunches or an anytime snack as well. Before I get into my list, it’s important to stress how much we talk to Gavin about making good food choices.
I talk to him about the effects bad food can have on his body and mind all the time. He retains the option to eat the snacks at the party. We provide high-value alternatives, but he can still choose to partake in school treats. Thus far, he has been amazing at making the “right choice”.
My criteria for healthy packaged snacks.
- Gluten free
- Preservative free
- Free of artificial colors & flavors
- GMO free
- Low Sugar
- Provide Nutrients
9 out of the 10 treats listed here have about half the sugar of an apple.* They offer some form of nutrients whether it be protein, good healthy fat, or probiotics. (Zevia being the exception).
There are plenty of gluten free snacks that are free of preservatives and artificial dyes, but they are typically really high in sugar and are processed to the point where the are devoid of nutrients. They are fine treats, but I can’t add them to a list titled “HEALTHY packaged snacks.
Healthy Packaged Snacks #1
If you’ve never had anEPIC bar, you need to try them. They are delicious meat bars made from pasture-raised animals. They come in a variety of flavors. Because they are not cheap, it’s rare that Gavin gets to have them, so he gets excited whenever he does have them.
Healthy Packaged Snacks #2
The same company that makes the yummy meat bars also makes these delicious pork rinds. They make a healthier alternative to chips. They offer a ton of protein, and are low carb as well.
Healthy Packaged Snacks #3
Chips & Hummus
This is one of our favorite non-paleo snacks. I usually give Gavin Veggie Straws as they are lower in carbs than most chips and still taste great. We buy the individual cups of organic hummus from Costco
Healthy Packaged Snacks #4
Organic Yogurt Cup
This is a rare treat. Gavin eats my homemade yogurt about 3-5 times a week, so sending yogurt to school wouldn’t necessarily make a high value treat. However, the flavored cups from the store he almost never gets. The So Delicious brand makes a good coconut milk yogurt in a variety of flavors, and he loves them. *This is the only snack that is not low sugar. One yogurt cup contains 20gs of sugar.
Healthy Packaged Snacks #5
Old reliable. If you’re kiddo is not used to the taste of dark chocolate, then you may want to start out with a lower percentage, but try for at least 50% dark chocolate. The Equal Exchange Panama chocolate bar I find to be the best tasting. Gavin likes it too, but he goes between the Panama bar and the Endangered Species cranberry and almond bar as his favorites.
Healthy Packaged Snacks #6
This is the big one. It’s #6 on this list, but it is our very favorite. It is the perfect alternative to Nutella, and it’s oh so good. Justin’s sells this in single serve packets that are great to eat by itself.
Healthy Packaged Snacks #7
If your kiddo is in an allergy friendly classroom, this may be a better option than the hazelnut butter. Wild Friends creates flavored sunflower seed butter that makes the perfect treat for a nut free classroom. They also can be found in single serve packets.
Healthy Packaged Snacks #8
barkThins are another family favorite. These are a little higher in sugar than the dark chocolate bars, but still better for you than a Hersey bar. They also come in different flavors. They make pumpkin seed bark thins for nut free classrooms too.
Thrive Market has a ton of healthy packaged snacks that you may have trouble finding anywhere else. Check out my review of Thrive Market to see if it’s worth it for you.
What to Drink
Healthy Packaged Snacks #9
We brew our own Kombucha at home, but they are widely available in stores now. They are full of probiotics and healthy acids that can help digest some of that extra sugar the kids will be getting at the party. Only caveat is that Kombucha is only served in glass, so check with the teacher before sending this to school.
Healthy Packaged Snacks #10
Zevia is a sugar free soda. Instead of yucky aspartame or Splenda, Zevia is sweetened by stevia. It comes in different flavors and most are caffeine free. While his friends might be drinking juice boxes, Gavin gets to be the cool kid that gets a soda.
**While these snacks are readily available at Target or Whole Foods. You can also click the title on many of these snacks and buy directly through my amazon.com affiliate link.**
Why Not Just Send Fruit or Carrot Sticks?
Of course, we could always simply send in fruit or vegetables along with a bottle of water. I wrote this list with the holiday party in mind. They eat fruit & veggies everyday. Kids in the class will be eating chocolate santas, marshmallow pumpkins, or candy hearts depending on the holiday.
Therefore, I want to provide a treat that presents a high value alternative, so he does not feel left out. Other kids are getting treats; he should be able to have one too. This makes it is easier for him to make the best decision and avoid the processed party treats.
What’s Your Go-To Packaged Treat??
Leave a comment and share your thoughts, ideas, or experiences.