10 Easy Zero-Waste Snacks for Kids and Those Who Feed Them

zero-waste snacks for kids: kombucha and popcorn

These simple healthy snacks will satisfy even picky eaters. Fill little bellies, not garbage bags!

1. A piece of fruit

You may have hoped for more elaborate ideas on this list of zero-waste snacks for kids but hear me out. A piece of fruit tastes delicious. It is healthy. It grows its own packaging.

Snacks and meals need not look like winning contenders for a high-pressure reality TV cooking show. Feeding your kids fruit as a snack simplifies your life. When they are hungry, you hand them some grapes or an apricot or an apple. Or if you’re Type A, apple slices.

fresh fruit and vegetables for zero waste kids snacks
Fresh fruit and vegetables and a loaf of sourdough bread

2. Vegetables and hummus

If you have started down the zero-waste rabbit hole, I bet you have increased your hummus intake. Homemade hummus tastes delicious and eliminates gazillions of plastic tubs generated by the store-bought stuff.

Soak some chickpeas, cook them in a pot, a slow cooker or a pressure cooker and quickly transform them—along with a handful of other ingredients—into hummus in a food processor or blender. Sneak more vegetables into your child’s diet with the addition of puréed pumpkin or beets.

I have a few hummus recipes on this blog:

The chocolate “hummus” tastes something like chocolate pudding!

3. Sourdough crackers

These also go well with hummus. Or any dip. Or on their own. To make these, you will need to start and nurture a sourdough starter. Learn how to do that here. When you feed the starter, you accumulate inactive starter that cannot make bread rise. But it makes amazing crackers.

Find the recipe for sourdough crackers here.

4. Roasted chickpeas

Addictive? Yes. Healthy? Also yes.

Chickpeas and hummus are an easy means to help consumers meet the recommended 1.5 cups of legumes per week… Consuming chickpeas and/or hummus may help prevent or offset the development and progression of several chronic diseases (CVD, type-2 diabetes, etc.).” — The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)

Here is the recipe for roasted chickpeas.

roasted chickpeas are perfect zero waste snack for kids
Roasted chickpeas hot out of the oven

5. Soft pretzels

My daughter Charlotte first made these crusty-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside pretzels in elementary school. Young bakers love to make them on their own, smaller children love to help making them and everyone loves to eat them.

Find Charlotte’s soft pretzel recipe here. Or follow my sourdough version here.

6. Granola bars

Charlotte made these also. Adjust them to your snackers’ preferences. Add cranberries, omit the chocolate chips—or keep them—toss in a bit of dried coconut or leftover pulp from making coconut milk, change up the nut butter…

Here is Charlotte’s granola bar recipe.

7. Granola

Or just snack on granola itself. Top it with fruit and yogurt if desired. I make so many combinations of this, depending on what ingredients I find in my pantry, that it would make a great math problem. Lately, I’ve been adding heaping amounts of okara (soy bean pulp) left over from homemade tofu.

Find the granola recipe here.

8. Roasted pumpkin seeds

One of the great treats of Halloween! These also turn out well with winter squash seeds. To make these, remove as many pumpkin (or squash) chunks as you can from the seeds. Toss the seeds in olive oil to coat, along with salt and if using, spices (cayenne, cumin or herbes de provence, etc.). Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet or glass tray. Roast at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 or 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes until golden and crunchy.

roasted pumpkin seeds
Roasted pumpkin seeds

9. Stove-top popcorn

My personal favorite zero-waste snack—and also one of the simplest. Into a medium-size saucepan, add 1 teaspoon of salt (or to taste), 1/2 cup popcorn kernels and two tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil or a combo of the two. Put the lid on the pot, turn the burner to high heat and shake the pot continuously. Once the kernels begin to pop, they will pop quickly, in about a minute.

Stovetop popcorn and homemade kombucha

10. Dehydrated produce

We have a solar food dryer at the intentional community where I live in Northern California because of course we do. I’ve used it to make kale chips, sundried tomatoes, dried apple rings and more. The simple design works so well and can reach temperatures around 225 degrees Fahrenheit. (Go here for information on dehydrating food in an oven.)

kale chips are delicious zero waste snacks for kids
The sun making a batch of kale chips
Sundried tomatoes, literally
A good day to use the solar food dryer

Check out my award-winning cookbook!

Learn more about my book here.

US Cover

9 Replies to “10 Easy Zero-Waste Snacks for Kids and Those Who Feed Them”

  1. Thanks for the soft pretzel recipe. I think my grandchildren will enjoy making and eating these.

    1. My pleasure Nancy. Kids love making these. They are like edible playdough 🙂
      ~ Anne Marie

  2. We love air popped popcorn in coconut oil with a shake of dried dill and some nutritional yeast flakes!

  3. I love zero waste popcorn with rapeseed oil and salt – it has such an interesting, unique flavor, it’s amazing.

  4. I’m a teacher, and still I am amazed at why parents/guardians always go to these coloured, packaged, crap foods. Yes, it’s “quick and convenient”, but these baggies are labeled “FRUIT snacks”. A fruit snack is just that – a piece of fruit as a snack. My babe is only just coming up to two, but even in these nearly two years I have never bought those squeezy baby food bottles, nor other processed crap. Once, we were visiting family in Germany, and I bought a small glass jar for the plane travel. That’s it. I am proud of that.

    1. You should be proud, Nadine! It took us decades to get into this mess. I hope it takes less time to wean us off of this stuff.

      ~ Anne Marie

  5. These are such great tips! When I was teaching at a preschool in China the school never fed the kids anything that came in plastic. Never. Every day they drank water (from a big metal container, never plastic bottles), and on Mondays they drank milk (from the same container, no cartons). For a snack, they would always have a piece of fruit and some nuts. Apples, tangerines, dragonfruit, starfruit, pears, cashews, almonds, walnuts, edamame…. and they never complained. There were a couple of kids that didn’t like nuts but they would eat the fruit. They also had metal trays, chopsticks, and bowls. They were such great zero-wasters and didn’t even know it!

  6. This is a wonderful post. Thank you!

  7. do you ever just hang dry apples? heard from an elder that his mother would cut them into coils and hang them to dry in the house and make apple pie with them in the winter… I’m not sure if she left them out the whole time…or if she rehydrated them before baking…but something to think about it. gonna experiment and read up.

Leave a Reply