Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Sneakz. Thank you Sneakz for providing us with the assortment of milk options to enjoy at the pool this summer! This post also may contain affiliate links. For more on my disclosure policy, please visit my legal page.
Although I am all for packing picnics to take to the pool in our yumboxes, there is something to be said for the laid back, laissez faire attitude of eating an easy afternoon lunch or snack poolside.
That's why I came up with this complete list of healthy pool snacks for summer.
Complete with a grocery list to get all the suggested snacks, these items are some of my faves to toss in for a day at the pool.
So don't rush home for lunch and be sure to skip the sno-cones and nacho cheese sauce with chips at the lifeguard stand. Instead, keep some of these offerings on hand so you and your kiddos can enjoy swimming and the sunshine with a bit less stress.
The Summer's Best Pool Snacks
Here are a few keys considerations I kept in mind when selecting this summer's best pool snacks. For a free printable with all my favorite products to each of the recommendations below, download the free Summer Pool Snacks grocery guide!
Will it fuel?
What is the purpose of a snack? As discussed in my last blog post, the first goal is to fill in nutritional gaps. While this may seem to counter the typical snacks we pack or purchase for the pool, the ideas I share here each offer a bit more of a nutritional benefit than the average processed, non-perishable snack food.
Ideally, you want to pair at least 2-3 different food groups to make up a snack food that will fuel your children for longer. Depending on if the goal is to make this is a large enough snack to replace lunch or one that will just need to hold everyone through the afternoon until dinner, you can bulk up the variety and/or serving size of what you offer accordingly.
Think of easy combinations like these:
- Personal nut butter squeeze packs with pretzels, apple slices, or straight from t he pouch!
- Non-perishable hummus with veggie straws or snack packs of baby carrots*
- Frozen grapes*, cheese sticks, and whole grain crackers
- DIY trail mix with dried fruits like no sugar added mangoes, raisins, or freeze-dried strawberries plus no-sugar-added dry cereal and dry roasted nuts*
- Pre-packaged pulses for a crunchy snack with more staying power (that's to the natural fiber!)
* Note that baby carrots, whole grapes, nuts, and some dried fruits may be choking hazards in kids under 4. Use caution, cut or quarter into smaller, more manageable pieces, or avoid completely.
Will it refresh?
Let's talk about hydration.
In my opinion, water is almost always the easiest, most economical, and effective hydration solution to offer kids between meals. We know though that kids often want something a bit more “fun,” especially when they likely see other kids at the pool getting Kool-Aid and Capri Suns. However, children should drink no more than 4 ounces of juice per day so I don’t recommend juice boxes as a norm nor poolside staple. Instead, use this as yet another opportunity to maximize the nutritional value of what is offered as a poolside snack while filling in nutritional gaps with the beverages you offer your little one.
Most kids need about 16 ounces of dairy products per day in order to meet their recommended calcium needs. Majority of us parents don’t want to deal with keeping milk cold though, nor packing it in an expensive thermos only to take it along and let’s be honest, likely lose it at the pool! That’s why I am especially happy about a new disposable, shelf-stable milk option I recently learned about: Sneakz.
If you have ever heard how chocolate milk is one of the best recovery drinks for athletes, you’ll also understand a bit of why I love these Sneakz organic milk for active days at the pool. With a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein, this is a great beverage option to both refresh AND refuel your little swimmer. Plus, since most kids aren’t crazy about getting in their vegetables while splashing around with friends, Sneakz helps us moms out. With ingredients like carrots, cauliflower, sweet potato, spinach, and beets that are added into kid-favorite milkshake flavors (available in chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla), each 8- ounce Sneakz tetra pack has half a serving of vegetables.
Plus as I mention below, Sneakz are perfect to toss in the freezer and then use them as ice packs to keep our snacks cold. Icey and cool like a milkshake, and yet far more dietitian-mom approved than anything the ice cream man has to offer when he inevitably stops by the pool.
Will it melt?
Most of us know not to bring a candy bar to the pool for a few reasons, one of which being the huge mess it'll make when our kids attempt to eat it in the hot summer sun. But even “healthy” granola bars with chocolate chips can still get unnecessarily messy.
That is why I have listed options here that are not only melt free, but also that offer a space-saving, dual purpose as preferred snacks and ice packs. The following items are perfect to throw in the freezer beforehand, use as temporary ice packs, and then enjoy as they thaw out before snack time.
- Non-perishable milk boxes, like the ones by Sneakz
- Yogurt tubes
- String cheese
Will it compete?
This is important, even to a dietitian-mom like me.
How cool are the items you are bringing to the pool?
I have very little pride when it comes to if my daughter gets to eat what “all the cool kids have.” But I know firsthand that when I pack her lame, healthy snacks, no one really wins. Not only does it make those items available at the lifeguard shack seem that much more appealing (and yet off limits), but also my daughter ends up that much less interested in refueling and refreshing with what we have (AKA we are almost guaranteed a meltdown on the way home).
So while I want to instill in her an understanding of what snacks are smart choices, we can still have fun with and fully enjoy what options we do bring from home.
My main trick for this? Save novelty snack foods for when you are at the pool and have some competition.
I don’t often buy pre-packaged items for our girls because I know there are more cost-effective, healthy ways to make or serve them at home. But for the pool, I often take advantage of the individual yogurt squeeze tubes, personalized nut butter and pretzel snack packs, and a few other pre-packaged favorites like Sneakz milkshakes.
These almost always come off as more of a “treat” than the bowl of yogurt, nut butter from the jar, or milk from the jug our girls know to have at home. So having something that is a little extra special, allures kids away from the snacks we don’t want them having and back to the healthy choices we have packed up for them to eat at the pool.
Will it fit?
Every time we head to the pool I think how fitting it would be if I were an octopus. I literally need eight arms to carry all the towels, sun screens, floaties, diapers, random clothes, snacks and the hand of each kid as we cross the parking lot.
That’s why I love having a little tote to keep our snacks compartmentalized in. Not only is this an easy way to keep all the food together, but also tends something small and with a shoulder strap that our older kiddos can carry on their own.
Sunscreen, Snacks, Smiles
I hope this post helped you know what to pack for the Summer's Best Pool Snacks. If you would like specific product recommendations as to the brands and items I buy for each of the above, download this grocery guide!
Happy summer to you and your favorite little swimmers+pool snackers, from Sneakz and me.