35 Snack ideas for fussy eaters – beyond fruit & veg
Catering to fussy eaters can be a nightmare. We lovingly create these Pinterest worthy recipes, only to have them rejected. Often this means we begin to gradually retreat. Instead of serving new options we get boxed into serving the same things over and over.
Unfortunately, when we do this it can exaccerbate our child’s narrowing of their diet and increase the rigidity, with them wanting exactly the same thing every time.
Serving variety is a key part of supporting our child to eat more widely – even if they are not eating new things. If we only serve crackers, for example, our child thinks ‘snack is crackers’. The longer we do this, the more those patterns become entrenched.
Presenting new options does not mean wasting lots of food. We can put out some cheese, for example, and if it’s not eaten, use it later in the day (or sneak it back into the packet!).
I would always recommend serving a food a child is okay eating but also making sure there is something new to build a comfort level with too.
Small portions usually work better as they are less overwhelming. This helps with potential wastage too.
*not all the foods listed below are suitable for all ages and stages. Please ensure only appropriate choices are offered.
Let’s have a look at some ideas that may be a fit for your child:
Snack ideas for fussy eaters
1. Crackers. Often picky eaters are okay with crackers. If so, can we introduce new ones? Showing change is always positive and there are dozens of different crackers we can try.
2. Cookies. If we have a child that loves biscuits it can be a good place to begin change. Can we try a new one from the supermarket, or even better, bake a different recipe at home?
I love home-baking as generally, it is better nutritionally than pre-packaged. If our child helps make it, even better.
Not all cookies are created equally! Some contain great ingredients and could be a good way to introduce new ingredients or flavours.
3. Bread/toast. If our child loves bread or toast and is having it for other meals, I would be looking for different options for snacks, if possible. If they are only eating for snacks, what can we pair it with?
4. Mini sandwiches. If our child is super hungry then maybe a small sandwich is perfect to tide them over until the next meal.
5. Breadsticks/cheese straws. My mother always makes these when we visit and my boys love them! Crunchy, they can tick boxes for picky eaters, but are a bit different from their usual options.
6. Pita bread/wraps. Great for making mini sandwiches. Or, we can bake in the oven until crispy and use as a dipper or cover with the favourite spread (or a slightly new one?)
7. Mini pizza. I know many children prefer quite plain pizza but snacks are a great time to experiment. Perhaps some new toppings can be tried on a small corner of the pizza (you can always separate for children with food anxiety).
8. Bread-type foods. Serving new bread options like mini rolls, croissants, baguette, muffin splits, raisin toast etc. Any change is good and helps to expand the diet.
9. Muffins. There are many different types of muffin and again, if we can make them ourselves, they can be a great option.
If a whole muffin is too much to eat we can always cut and serve pieces.
10. Scones. Baking mini scones or serving part of a scone for a snack can be a good option.
11. Cake. Not all cakes are created equally either. Many fussy eaters accept banana bread, for example. Perhaps you can make it in a cup cake case and top with icing to make more appealing for those who don’t eat yet?
However, my sole focus would not be finding one that contains a fruit or veg, but baking foods that are as nutrient dense as possible, but still a win for our child.
12. Muesli bars. There are many different types avaialable and finding new ones that our child accepts can be a gentle way to introduce new choices. If we can make them at home – even if they need to be choc dipped – they are often way better than store bought.
13. Pancakes/pikelets. Mini pancakes/crepes or pikelets are perfect for a snack. Don’t forget they can be savoury as well as sweet. Or we can top with a protein like yoghurt, peanut butter or cheese.
14. Pastry. Pastry on it’s own can be an easy snack, especially for fussy eaters who like things plain. It can also be a simpler first step away from crackers or toast, for example.
If plain pastry is okay we can look at foods like pinwheels to introduce additional flavours.
15. Quiche or frittata. Mini egg-based quiches or frittata can be a great way to provide a nutrient dense snack. The simplest may just be egg and cheese!
16. Eggs. Eggs can be a simple and nutritious snack. Scrambled, fried or boiled. Even ‘mashy’ egg combining a boiled egg with mayonnaise.
17. Cheese. Cheese is a filling, protein snack. It can be sticks, slices or grated. Plain like Edam.
Or, perhaps something a little different like cottage cheese. With cottage cheese, I have found that mixing it in the food processor or blender changes the texture and makes it more like riccota (handy for baking). The smoother texture may also be easier for some picky eaters.
Although we would probably not pick brie, camembert or blue cheese as first choices for a fussy eater, I am surprised at how many eat them. It is a good policy to treat all foods as though they have the same chance of being eaten. This way we often make surprising discoveries!
18. Chicken. Offering chicken, or other meats can provide a filling snack that helps keep children fuller for longer.
Nibbles – small pieces of chicken, plain, crumbed or marinated.
Pieces – nuggets or little pieces of crumbed, baked or pan-fried chicken.
Meatballs – chicken meatballs are the perfect size for a snack.
19. Ham, salami or bacon. Fussy eaters often like the salty, cured meats. These can be a useful addition to a snack, either on their own or combined with everything from cheese to tomatoes.
20. Meatballs. Served either on their own, on a skewer or combined with cheese, for example, meatballs are a simple and portable snack.
21. Sausages. Sliced, in strips or on mini sticks, cubes of bread or skewers sausages are an easy snack. Again, simple to combine with other foods.
22. Jerky. I know quite a few fussy eaters who are okay with jerky. I think texturally it can be less challenging than other foods.
23. Fish fingers. Cut up pieces of fish finger can be a great snack and an easy way to add more fish to the diet.
24. Tuna or salmon. Small pieces of cooked or tinned fish served on their own. Or on a cracker or mini toast or mixed with mayo, cream cheese or sour cream.
25. Sushi. If traditional sushi is a step too far for a picky eater, we can begin with simpler versions like plain rice rolled into balls. Then adding a little chicken or even cheese, for example. There are no rules!
26. Seaweed sheets. I think the salt and the texture makes these a win for many picky eaters. Yes, they are green, but they are also crunchy and dry.
27. Nuts and seeds. Roasted, toasted, salted or just plain. Nuts and seeds are full of good fats and trace nutrients. Serve on their own or with a dip.
28. Trail mix. Creating a mix with nuts and/or seeds plus dried fruit and/or choc chips or pretzels, for example, provides a great nutrient dense, dry and crunchy snack.
29. Energy/bliss balls. Nuts and seeds do provide a boost of energy and nutrients. Bliss balls are often sweet so a hit for children.
30. Dry cereal. A small portion of dry cereal on its own or mixed in with either dried fruit or choc chips, for example, can be a fun snack. Or, we can spread cereal like Weetbix with jam or a favourite spread.
31. Nut butters. Nut butters, like peanut, on it’s own or added to other things can be a boost of good fats. Serving on a spoon for older children can be fun.
32. Dips. A dip can be an excellent way to bridge from one food to a new food. It can also provide additional calories and nutrients. There are many dips but don’t forget non-traditional ideas that may be a win. Ketchup, softened peanut butter or cheese sauce, for example.
33. Corn chips. A handful of corn chips or a mini taco cup can be a good way to add in some new foods.
34. Yoghurt. A small portion of yoghurt, plain, frozen or made into bark is an easy and popular snack.
35. Jelly or gummies. Gelatin is a good source of protein and collagen. A mini jelly or home-made gummie could be perfect.
This list is not, of course, exhaustive and I have omitted some of the standard fare like chippies, pretzels and popcorn.
Perhaps there are some new things that may be a win for your child?
Judith is an AOTA accredited picky eating advisor and internationally certified nutritional therapist. She works with 100+ families every year resolving fussy eating and returning pleasure and joy to the meal table.
She is also mum to two boys and the author of Creating Confident Eaters and Winner Winner I Eat Dinner. Her dream is that every child is able to approach food from a place of safety and joy, not fear.
Learn more about Judith here: https://theconfidenteater.com/about/