The start of the school year always reminds me of fresh starts, new beginnings, excitement, and resolutions.
My dreams of sending my daughter, now, daughters to school with healthy homemade snacks often start out like a high-speed race, but end in a crash around October, when my energy peters out, the sports and activities get in the way, and I resort to the packaged goodies bought from the store (which of course, my kids LOVE!) This year, I am starting the school year the same way I start every school year, with the same hopes of sending my kids to school with snacks (and lunches) made in our home.
Here are a few of our favorite homemade lunch box snacks:
Trail Mix– This is one of the most versatile and easy snacks that can be as creative or not as you want. Mix ingredients listed and store in an airtight container
Nut Free Pretzel Trail Mix
- 1 Cup small pretzels
- 1 Cup cheerio type cereal
- ½ Cup raisins or dried cranberries
- ¼ Cup chocolate chips
- 1 Cup salted peanuts
- 1 Cup unsalted almonds (or other unsalted nut)
- ½ Cup sunflower seeds
- ½ Cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 Cup of raisins
- 1 Cup of chocolate covered peanuts
Dried Fruit Mix
- 1 Cup unsweetened dried coconut shavings
- 1 Cup dried banana chips
- 1 Cup sesame sticks
- 1 Cup yogurt covered pretzels
- 1 Cup diced dried pineapple
2) Playgroup Granola Bars– We discovered these when looking for a granola bar recipe that needed to be nut free, super easy and delicious. Even adults will love them!
- 2 Cups oats
- ¾ Cup brown sugar
- ½ Cup wheat germ
- ¾ Teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 Cup flour
- ¾ Teaspoon salt
- 2 Teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ Cup vegetable oil OR ¼ coconut oil, melted
- 1 Egg
- ½ Cup honey or maple syrup
- 1 Cup total of add ins: raisins, craisins, chocolate chips, nuts, etc.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 9X13 inch baking pan. Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl, and in another bowl whisk wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well with hands or a wooden spoon. Press mixture into greased pan, and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown and center is set. Let cool slightly before cutting.
We like to individually wrap the bars for a quick grab and go snack for the lunch box. The original recipe can be found here.
3) No Bake Energy Bites
- 1 Cup oatmeal
- ½ Cup peanut butter (sunbutter if peanut free)
- ½ Cup ground flax seeds
- ⅓ Cup honey or maple syrup (more if it isn’t rolling easily)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
- Pinch salt
- Pinch cinnamon
- 3/4 Cup total of add ins- we like ¼ cup raisins, ¼ mini chocolate chips, and ¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
Mix all ingredients together. I use our mixer for this. Test mixture to see if it sticks together well. If it doesn’t, please add more peanut butter and honey/maple. If it does, get a bowl of warm water, moisten fingertips, and using a small ice cream scoop, scoop out mixture and roll into ball shapes. Place on parchment lined cookie sheets, and once all rolled, place in refrigerator to chill before storing in a large Ziploc bag or other sealed container. Keep in refrigerator. The original recipe can be found here.
4) Chocolate No Bake Bars
- 1 Cup peanut butter (sunbutter if peanut free)
- ½ Cup honey
- ½ Cup coconut oil
- 2 Cups oats
- 1 ¼ Cup chocolate chips, whatever your preference, dark, semi-sweet or milk
- 1 Cup shredded coconut (can omit, but if you do, add ½ cup extra of oats)
- ½-¾ cup add-ins such as raisins, dried cranberries, chopped peanuts, sunflower seeds, etc.
Melt the peanut butter, honey and coconut oil over low heat stirring frequently. Once melted add chocolate chips and stir until melted. Add in the rest of the ingredients and pour into a greased 9X13 inch pan. Let cool, cut into bars and individually wrap for easy grab and go. Store in the refrigerator. Original recipe can be found here.
5) California Apricot Power Bars
- 2 Cups coarsely chopped dried apricots
- 2 ½ Cups pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1 ¼ Cups pitted dates, coarsely chopped
- 1 Teaspoon baking powder
- 1 Cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 3 eggs, beaten
- ¼ Cup apple juice or water
- 1 ½ Teaspoons vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together first 3 ingredients and divide into two bowls. In a small bowl, combine flour and baking powder, add to half of dried fruit and nut mixture and toss to coat. In mixer bowl, combine brown sugar, eggs, apple juice/water, and vanilla and mix well. Add flour/dried fruit and nut mixture into mixer bowl to combine. Spread into 9X13 pan lined with foil and lightly greased. Lightly press remaining fruit/nut mixture on top. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until bars are golden brown and spring back when gently pressed. Let cool in pan 5-10 minutes, then turn onto a cooling rack, and let cool completely. Peel off foil, cut into bars and wrap individually. Store in airtight container. The original recipe can be found here.
6) Zucchini Bread/Muffins
- 3 Cups flour, we used ½ white, ½ whole wheat
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 teaspoons cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- 3 eggs
- 1 ½ cup white sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 3 cups grated zucchini or carrots, we do a combo of both- squeezed to remove excess liquid
- 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
- ½ cup mini chocolate chips (optional, but of course, we always add them!)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 2 loaf pans or 15 muffin cups. Beat eggs, sugars, vanilla, and oil until well mixed and light in color. Add zucchini and combine. Add dry ingredients and gently mix until incorporated, and stir in nuts and chocolate chips if using. Pour into pans and bake for 1 hour for bread, or 25 minutes for muffins. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick or metal skewer into the center of bread/muffins. If it comes out dry, they are done, if the batter is still wet, cook for another 5 minutes. Wrap individually and store in airtight container. We typically double this recipe and make muffins because they freeze great! The original recipe can be found here.