In-Person Learning is Here: Back to School Snacks to Fuel Your Kids

It’s that time of year – back to school! School in the last year and a half has looked totally different than ever before, and things are constantly changing. But for those with kids heading back to a school building, packing meals is a must! So if you’re in need of some back to school snacks to liven up the lunch box, or ideas for when those hungry kids get home, we’ve got you covered!

What makes a good back to school snack?

In general, I try to stick to snacks containing both carbohydrates for energy (and brainpower!) but also protein and fat to keep kids full and satisfied. Adding in variety helps ensure they get the nutrients they need, prevents boredom with a specific food (which can lead to refusing a once favorite food), and can help introduce them to new foods.

If you have a selective eater on your hands, check out our Tips for Picky Eaters Blog or our Easy Cooking for Kids: How to Get Them in the Kitchen Blog.

Back to School Snacks to Pack in a Lunchbox


1. Apple with peanut butter

A classic back-to-school snack. Apple slices with nut butter are a delicious and satisfying crunchy snack. If your child is allergic to peanuts, you can substitute any other nut butter instead. If no nut butters are allowed in school, you can try Wowbutter or Sunbutter.
Tip: Soak apple slices in lemon water (1 tbsp lemon juice to 1 cup water). Soak for 3-5 min then drain and pack to prevent browning.
cereal bars back to school snack

2. Homemade cereal bars

Cereal bars or granola bars can be an easy store-bought option, but homemade Cheerio bars are tastier in my opinion! Cereal for carbs, peanut butter for fat and protein!

3. Mini muffins

Mini muffins are a fun, sweet snack. Muffins are a great source of carbohydrate for energy. If your kid needs more to stay satisfied longer, pack some protein like yogurt or a cheese stick to go with the muffins!
Tip: Use a mixture like Kodiak brand to add some protein and whole grain.

4. Oatmeal bites

Recipe: Mix the following ingredients in a bowl until well combined: 2 cups quick oats, 1/2 cup peanut butter (or Wowbutter/Sunbutter), 1/4 cup Honey, 1/4 cup Raisins, 1/4 cup Mini chocolate chips, 2 Tbsp desired milk. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes. Roll into balls then freeze for 10 minutes. Transfer to container and store in fridge.

5. Nut-free trail mix

Trail mix can be a great combo of protein, fruit, and fun foods! Get the kids involved to choose their combinations. Here are some ideas: Cheezits, pretzels, Chex mix, m&ms, chocolate covered sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried fruit, cereal, coconut, and freeze dried fruit like banana. 

6. Yogurt tubes

Yogurt tubes are a great, mess-free option to provide protein and gut-healthy probiotics.
Tip: Freeze them so they’re cold by the time they eat them!
vegan protein snacks chickpeas

7. Roasted chickpeas

Roasted chickpeas are a crunchy, savory snack that provides both carbs and plant-based protein.
Tip: You can do this at home in the oven or air fryer, but for chickpeas that stay crispy, opt for the store-bought version.

8. Oatmeal Banana Cookies

Sweet chewy cookies that are great for breakfast or snack! These one bowl, easy to make oatmeal banana cookies are also great to get the kids involved in cooking!
oatmeal banana cookie back to school snack

After School Snacks to Serve at Home

1. Dessert tacos

Dessert tacos are a fun twist on the taco. Tortillas, fruit, and fun toppings for a tasty snack.
Ideas: Ricotta or cream cheese + berries, peanut butter + banana slices, cinnamon apples + whipped cream. Serve on street taco size tortillas.

2. Chex mix or pretzels with cheese cubes

Chips are fine, but are not very filling! Serve with cheese to add some protein.
english muffin pizzas

 3. English muffin pizza

These are great to get the kids involved! Let them choose their toppings and help assemble. You can make these ahead of time and freeze. Transfer to the fridge the night before.

4. PB yogurt dip

This dip is a great source of protein, probiotics, and calcium. Mix 1/2 cup Greek yogurt with 1 tbsp peanut butter. Dip apple slices or graham crackers.

5. Chickpea cookie dough dip with graham crackers

Using chickpeas for a cookie dough dip provides protein and fiber for a more filling snack.
Tip: To save time, you can try a store-bought dessert hummus.

6. Crackers and Schmear

Spread cream cheese onto crackers and top with cream cheese and jam. Try a whole grain cracker and chia jam for more fiber.
chia jam crackers back. to school snacks

7. Smoothies

Smoothies are a great way to pack a bunch of nutrients into a small glass! Try different fruits and vegetables to get a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Tip: Make sure you add a source of protein like yogurt, protein powder, cottage cheese or silken tofu

8. Cup of dirt

What’s better than chocolate pudding? Not much, in my book. Our vegan recipe uses silken tofu as a base for added protein.
Vegan Cup of Dirt

9. Turkey pinwheels (tortilla, turkey, cream cheese + ranch seasoning, cheese, lettuce)

The classic pinwheel is an oldie but a goodie. Mix ranch seasoning with cream cheese and spread onto a tortilla. Top with turkey slices, cheese slices, and lettuce. Roll up and slice.

10. Veggies and dip

Ideas: broccoli + hummus, cauliflower + ranch seasoning mixed into plain yogurt or sour cream, jicama + guacamole, bell pepper + spreadable cheese, celery + peanut butter

11. Microwave nachos

It doesn’t get much easier than this. Spread chips on a microwave safe plate and sprinkle with cheese. Microwave until cheese is melted. Top with bean dip, salsa, or other desired toppings. For more protein or fiber, you can try bean-based chips.
mummy carrot dogs

12. Mummy dogs

Traditionally these are made with crescent dough and hot dogs, but mummy carrot dogs are a fun way to switch it up and add an extra serving of vegetables to their day! 

More on the Blog

Whatever school looks like for your kids this year, we hope these snacks help fuel them through the day! If you’re struggling to get dinner on the table, we have some resources to help!

An award winning recipe developer, Dietitian Kaitlin’s mission is to empower others to reach their health goals by encouraging them to get back into the kitchen. Co-author of Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Healthy Eating and Cooking with Diabetes.