The 30 All-Time Best Grocery Store Snacks for Kids
Across the board, 2020 has been a year when parents and children have spent more time together than pretty much ever before. Stay-at-home orders, lapses in safe childcare options, and transitions to online school have forced new routines that have taken family time to unprecedented levels (in both good and bad ways). A clear side effect: Parents having to field way more “I’m hungrys!” than usual.
With 2021 (and more at-home time) on the horizon, we decided to curate a list of the all-time best grocery store snacks for kiddos, calling on the expertise of Kitchn staffers with children, registered dietitians, and pro-level grocery shoppers. Here are our top picks for dairy-based snacks, bars, cereals, crackers, crisps, puffs, nuts, legumes, fruit- and veggie-based treats, and meaty snacks. Behold!
1. Frigo String Cheese
This particular brand of string cheese was far and away the first recommendation, receiving a unanimous vote from Kitchn editors. “The only string cheese worth buying is FRIGO. It actually tastes like cheese,” says Food Director, Nina Elder, whose 5-year-old son, Gus, is already a “Cheesehead.”
Buy: Frigo String Cheese, $3.49 for 12 at Target
2. Siggi’s Kids Yogurt Pouches
Siggi’s Kids’ yogurt pouches are made with 50 percent less sugar than other brands, which is why busy parents should have these on hand at all times. They’re also loaded with important minerals like calcium that help support growing bones, says Lauren Manaker, a Kitchn contributor and a registered dietitian. Pro tip: They’re also a lifesaving solution to sandwich burnout.
Buy: Siggi’s Kids Yogurt Pouches, $6 for four at Instacart
According to Kitchn’s Editor-in-Chief, Faith Durand, “The nostalgic but hearty taste of Cheerios in all their oaten splendor is still my gold standard cereal.” Oh, and they’re great for kids, of course. “Their perfect clutch-able shape is still the best pick-up practice for tiny baby hands,” she argued in Kitchn Essentials. They’re also a great base for snack mixes, says Nina.
Buy: Cheerios, $3.79 for 18 ounces at Target
4. Kids Zbars
Clif Bar makes a kids’ version called Z Bar, which features a blend of carbohydrates, fiber, protein, and fat — but never high fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors. “My chocolate-hating kids prefer the iced oatmeal cookie option,” says Kitchn Contributor Patty Catalano.
Buy: Kids Zbars, $6.99 for 12 at Target
5. Nature’s Bakery Bars
So many Kitchn editors swear by Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars, which made them a no-brainer addition to our Kitchn Essentials list this summer. Food Editor Meghan Splawn, who hosts a podcast called Didn’t I Just Feed You?!, nominated them too.
Buy: Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars, $5.35 for 12 twin packs
6. Lärabar Kids
Amy Palanjian, the blogger behind Yummy Toddler Food and a member of the Kitchn Collective, loves to have Lärabar Kids on hand at all times. They’re an excellent snack break during Zoom school and contain just nine ingredients.
Buy: Lärabar Kids, $3.99 for six bars at Thrive Market
7. Pirate’s Booty
Fun to say and fun to eat — what’s not to love about Pirate’s Booty? These baked rice and corn puffs are dusted with aged white cheddar-y goodness and make a light (and delightful) snack.
Buy: Pirate’s Booty, $5.98 for 10 ounces at Walmart
8. Pepperidge Farm Goldfish
“We went through more giant tubs of Goldfish in quarantine than I thought possible. I’m speaking as an adult, though, so I don’t know if kids still like them,” says Senior Contributing Food Editor, Sheela Prakash. (The parents on our staff were quick to tell Sheela that they do!)
Buy: Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, $7.48 for 30 ounces at Walmart
9. Anything from Annie’s
We love pretty much everything that Annie’s Homegrown has to offer (the gummies! The mac and cheese!), but perhaps what we (and our kids) love most are the classic Cheddar Bunnies.
Buy: Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies, $4.49 for an 11.25-ounce box at Thrive Market
Smartfood has been around for ages and has been a kid favorite for just as long. In a reasonable serving size, this cheddar-dusted snack is perfectly acceptable — especially because popcorn counts as a whole grain. Note: Popcorn is a choking hazard for children under 5.
Buy: Smartfood, $4.79 for 9.5 ounces at Target
11. Quaker Cheddar Rice Crisps
If your kids are bored by regular rice cakes, try this cheese-dusted version from Quaker. They have other flavors, too, including buttermilk ranch and apple cinnamon.
Buy: Quaker Cheddar Rice Crisps, $2.73 for 6.06 ounces
Thanks to the familiar shape of this snack, your child will have NO idea they’re eating a protein-packed chickpea puff. They taste just like Cheez Doodles but have far more protein and fiber, and are made with vegan white cheddar.
Buy: Hippeas, $3.49 for 5 ounces at Target
13. Bamboo Lane Crunchy Rice Rollers
These brown rice puffs have just a hint of sweetness and a satisfying crunch that kids love. One pouch contains 50 calories — and you can buy them in bulk at Costco or on Amazon (where they have nearly 1,000 five-star reviews).
Buy: Bamboo Lane Crunchy Rice Rollers, $14.50 for 16 packs
14. Lesser Evil Egg White Curls
Another virtuous doodle-like snack! This one is made from egg whites and organic cassava flour and will surprise your kids in a good way. They come in Himalayan Pink Salt, Eggs & Cheese, and Huevos Rancheros flavors; are super crunchy and low calorie; and have six grams of protein per serving. That’s more than you can say about a regular ol’ cheese puff!
Buy: Lesser Evil Egg White Curls, $24 for six 4-ounce bags
15. Trader Joe’s Animal Crackers
Here’s another pick from Kitchn Essentials: Trader Joe’s Animal Crackers! They’re so good because they hit just the right notes of lemon and vanilla and are also fun (and educational) to eat.
16. Rold Gold Tiny Twists Pretzels
Pretzel twists are just as great in a bowl on the couch or in a baggie in the car. Pretty much every time of day is a pretzel time of day.
Buy: Rold Gold Tiny Twists Pretzels, $2.99 for 16 ounces at Target
17. Honey Maid Graham Crackers
Meghan’s kids like to dip their graham crackers in nut butter during snack time, giving this sweet treat a filling protein boost.
Buy: Honey Maid Graham Crackers, $3.38 for 14.4 ounces at Walmart
18. Dr. Praeger’s Sweet Potato Littles
These Sweet Potato Littles from Dr. Praeger’s are made with sweet potatoes for a boost of beta-caroten. The dino-shaped morsels are a great no-fuss afternoon snack. Just heat and serve. According to Caroline Schnapp, Kitchn’s Social Media Manager and mom of one, these are one of the groceries that got her and her toddler through 2020.
Buy: Dr. Praeger’s Sweet Potato Littles, $4 at Instacart
19. GoGo SqueeZ Applesauce Pouches
Although aimed at school-aged kids, these applesauce-based fruit and veggie pouches would work for toddlers, too. What’s inside? Pretty much just apples! Parents (including our very own Faith) love them because they can be stored at room temperature until opened. The brand also makes yogurt pouches that made our list of Kitchn Essentials and are beloved for the same reason.
Buy: GoGo SqueeZ Applesauce, $14.84 for 18 3.2-ounce pouches
20. Joolies Organic Medjool Dates
These pre-pitted dates are basically nature’s candy. Lauren buys these for her 5-year-old who gobbles them up when she’s looking for a sweet treat.
Buy: Joolies Organic Medjool Dates, $9 for 11 ounces at Thrive Market
21. Bare Baked Crunchy Fruit Chips
Everyone wants their kid to eat more fruit. Bare Baked Crunchy Fruit Chips make accomplishing that easy and accessible. “Bare Apple Chips are so sweet and crunchy and the only ingredient is APPLES,” says Patty.
Buy: Bare Baked Crunchy Fruit Chips, $2.99 for 1.4 ounces at Target
22. Harvest Snaps
These really are just green peas that have been baked to crispy perfection. They made Food Editor and mom of one Kelli Foster’s list of the 70+ Best Healthy Snack Ideas.
Buy: Harvest Snaps, $1.99 for 1 ounce at Target
23. Peeled Snacks Dried Mango
Let’s give a round of applause for this no-sugar-added dried mango that’s bursting with vitamins and equals a serving of fruit, recommended by Caroline.
Buy: Peeled Snacks Dried Mango, $9.98 for 7 ounces
24. From the Ground Up Butternut Squash Crackers
These plant-based crackers may look like Cheez-Its, but don’t be fooled — they’re made with butternut squash. Plus there’s a whopping 44 crackers in one serving (which isn’t the case with regular Cheez-Its).
Buy: From the Ground Up Butternut Squash Crackers, $22.50 for six 4-ounce boxes
25. Terra Chips
Dare we say that these perfectly salted root vegetable chips are even crispier and crunchier than potato chips? They also boast a much better nutritional profile. So if your kids are looking for something chip-like, this is it.
Buy: Terra Chips, $3.78 for 6.8 ounces at Walmart
26. Wonderful No-Shell Honey Roasted Pistachios
“My daughter loves these pistachios because they are kissed with sweet honey, and I love them because they offer 6 grams of plant-based protein and 3 grams of fiber per serving,” says Lauren. She also says this is the single ingredient that made her family fall in love with salad.
Buy: Wonderful No-Shell Honey Roasted Pistachios, $3 for 2.25 ounces at Target
27. Sensible Portions Veggie Straws
These tricolor veggie straws are another excellent alternative to potato chips. Buy them in individual 1-ounce bags for an easy snack-time solution.
Buy: Sensible Portions Veggie Straws, $4.79 for six 1-ounce bags at Target
28. Beina Honey-Roasted Chickpeas
Buy: Beina Honey-Roasted Chickpeas, $15.96 for four 5-ounce bags
29. Mini Nori Sheets
Nina’s son, Gus, loves to snack on mini packs of nori, which are packed with vitamins and minerals. These chip-like sheets are also fun to eat.
Buy: Kirkland Signature Organic Roasted Seaweed Snack, $10.49 for 10 packs at Costco
30. Kalahari Biltong
Kalahari biltong, which is air-dried beef, is an easy, quick protein. Unlike jerky that sometimes contain nitrates or flavor fillers, this is a little more natural, says Lauren.
Buy: Kalahari Biltong, $8 at Instacart
What are your favorite grocery store kid snacks?