When the weather warms up, and kids are more active, all they want to do is snack. Here are 25 options that’ll keep little ones satisfied until their next meal.
Credit: Photo: Oxmoor House

It doesn’t matter whether you’re home with the kids all summer, or just on the weekends after your regular 9-to-5. You don’t have time to make them fancy treats from Pinterest or Instagram (seriously, who has time to make an astronaut-shaped sandwich?) Those kids are hungry and hot, and they want relief NOW.

But at the same time, summer break begs for treats that are cool, light, and refreshing—not heavily processed junk food, or something you have to cook in the oven. Here are some simple ideas for making snacks from scratch (as well as a few thoughts on what you can buy). Many can be made ahead of time, so all you have to think about is which summer cocktail you want to relax with.

Frozen Treats

  • Pick grapes off the stem and pop them in the freezer. Snack on them directly or pack them as part of a picnic.
  • Store squeezy tubes of yogurt in the freezer—a particularly great tactic if your child heads off to camp for the day, because the yogurt is still cold at lunchtime.
  • Homemade ice pops: puree whatever summer fruit (or veggies!) you have on hand, mix in some plain Greek yogurt if you like, and pour it into paper cups, silicone cupcake tins, or ice-pop molds.
  •  Puree frozen bananas for fat-free, dairy-free, ice cream machine–free “nice cream.”
  • Make your own frozen yogurt—and have a bit of extra fun by turning it into dots!
  •  Frozen yogurt bark is as simple as spreading Greek yogurt on a lined baking sheet (about ½ inch thick), topping with your kid’s favorite chopped fruit, nuts, and/or chocolate chips, and freezing until firm, 2 to 4 hours.
  • Put a banana, melon wedge, or slice of pineapple on a cake pop or ice pop stick and freeze until firm. Dip half in melted dark chocolate. Or skip the stick and make frozen banana bites.
  • Edamame comes frozen, but makes for great finger food when thawed.

Refrigerated Treats

  • Shirk the neon-hued boxed gelatin and make your own, packing it with fresh fruit.
  • Prepare a watermelon cake for special occasions (or just because). Try it with honeydew and cantaloupe for a pretty twist.
  • Fruit salads are colorful and customizable to your child’s tastes. They seem a bit more special than offering up a single piece of fruit. To keep it extra simple, with no cutting involved, use grapes and berries. Add a squeeze of lemon or lime, and it will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days.
  • Smoothies aren’t just for breakfast. They’re easy to whip up and don’t have to be full of fat and sugar—like this Dreamsicle Smoothie.
  • Serve fresh fruit kebabs with a dip made from yogurt sweetened with a touch of maple syrup; mix in unsweetened coconut if desired.
  • Chia puddings are no-cook wonders that can be eaten as is or as a parfait with fresh fruit and granola.
  • Spread watermelon wedges with yogurt and top with berries for individual “pizza” slices.
  •  Serve hummus (store bought or homemade) with pita wedges and any veggie your child will eat.
  •  Remember ants on a log? That snack of celery sticks spread with peanut butter and topped with raisins? It’s still a thing.
  • Slice apples crosswise, spread them with nut butter, and top with berries and pumpkin seeds or crushed pretzel sticks.
  • It’s a scientific fact that kids love to eat things on sticks. Well, maybe not a scientific fact, but just watch them gobble up kebabs made from fresh fruit and cubes of cheese. Make up a bunch so they can grab one when the mood (or munchies) strikes.
  •  It’s another scientific fact (well, maybe) that kids will eat things that are rolled up. Take a small whole-wheat tortilla, spread it with anything (nut butter, jam, smashed bananas, yogurt, hummus), sprinkle with something crunchy, and roll it up. (Ham and cheese or pizza toppings are terrific options, too.) If desired, cut crosswise to make pinwheels.

Pantry Treats

  • Make your own fruit leather by spreading pureed fruit (applesauce works great) over a silicone baking mat– or parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake at 170–180°F until dry and slightly tacky. Roll and cut.
  • Snack mixes are perfect for noshing. Portion them out for grab-and-go gratification.
  • Kale chips are a great way to use up that CSA bounty. Spread out pieces of torn kale on a baking sheet and bake at 300°F until crisp. If you can’t bear to turn on your oven, try them in an air fryer.
  • Granola—and its unbaked cousin, muesli—are terrific for preventing hunger emergencies. (Pro tip: Use it to top “nice cream”, or mix it into your ice pops.)
  • Not all packaged snacks are bad for little bodies and little brains. Try these options for the least amount of fuss.