What to Take for Team Snack Day that’s a Little Bit Healthier

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Little league season is rife with adventure — weekly practices and games as well as the age-old tradition of Team Snack Day. Consider these tips for a happier and healthier team snack.

A close up of a water bottle and an orange in front of a basketball.

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Over the years the FishFam has dabbled in a few sports and other athletics. So far this 21 years, we’ve done t-ball, soccer, hockey, ballet, gymnastics, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I have ridden the bleachers with the best of them.

In the previous generation, I watched my siblings — because I was a sedentary child myself — pursue softball, baseball, dance, cross country, and track.

I’ve made a few observations about the similarities among the sports including the inevitable seven-year old chasing butterflies in the outfield, backfield, or corners of the rink. It’s just what it is, mamas. Some kids are into it one season, and not the next. Or vice versa.

The other overriding characteristic is the importance of team snack. For the child of a certain age, team snack day is A HUGE DEAL.

So much so, that when asked what said child was thinking about while chasing butterflies during the game he said HE WAS WONDERING WHAT THE SNACK WOULD BE. Ahem.

There have been times when the snack provided has caused me some degree of consternation, particularly when it’s monster-size donuts, nuclear dyed cheese balls, and dubious sports drinks.

Yet, while I am always one to improve a family’s overall eating habits, I have not yet taken to imposing that on folks outside our family circle against their will. As one of my older children once stated, “You could take carrots to FishBoy’s snack, and then all the kids on his team would hate him.”

Great. Just what I need, a child scarred for life over team snack day.

My guess is, you don’t need that either. Thankfully, there are some fairly happy compromises that you can consider when providing for team snack day.

What to Take for Team Snack Day | Tips from Life as Mom

What to Take for Team Snack Day that’s a Little Bit Healthier

Here are some things I like to keep in mind:

Prepackaged is best.

While I want home food to be minimally processed, realistically, prepackaged is easier and more appropriate in some circumstances, such as sharing with a bunch of strangers’ kids.

I shy away from homemade items on snack day because I want the other parents to feel comfortable and not wonder what my kitchen is like. That’s what would make me feel most comfortable as well.

Plus, having pre-packaged convenience items makes it easy to pass out snack as well as store leftover items for another time. (We save the leftovers for a fun treat out, like when we fill the fanny packs  for Disneyland.)

Be conscious of food allergies.

While many moms of kids with allergies bring alternatives, it’s nice for you to be conscientious of the kiddo who might feel left out. The list below offers a range of items that can be mixed and matched to accomodate dairy, gluten, or nut-allergies.

Be sure to read labels carefully and to consult the child’s parents if you need help or have questions. Save outer packaging in case the individual items don’t contain complete allergen information.

Consider younger siblings.

While you are in no way obligated to feed the families of the players, if it’s in your budget to bring extras for younger siblings, that is always a nice gesture.

The mom or dad who’s been trying to keep the baby or toddler happy during the last hour will be so grateful that you have something to share with their little one after they’ve exhausted their own supply of Cheerios.

Enough is as good as a feast.

A snack is a snack. It doesn’t need to be a meal. There’s a fair amount of hassle getting to the game — did everyone have breakfast? — as well as after a game, loading up gear, clearing the field, and hauling it to the car. Kids can easily get hangry.

Consider snack that holdover until you can get to the house — or the local taco stand — for a proper meal. Remember that a drink and one snack item should usually suffice.

Other moms may have plans that require their child to eat a meal at a table. Don’t make them hate you.

What to Take for Team Snack Day | Life as Mom

Healthier Options to Bring for Team Snack Day

This list is not meant to be exhaustive. Use it as a spring board for ideas of what will work well for your team as well as your budget. Don’t go for broke on snack day!

Chilled beverages

Pack these in a cooler or tub of ice if you’ve got time.

  • Bottled water (minis are nice)
  • Juice boxes or pouches
  • Dye-free sports drinks – while these still have processed sweeteners, they are a welcome alternative to drinks loaded with artificial coloring

Cold snacks

  • Yogurt tubes – there are a number of brands that are free of dyes as well as high fructose corn syrup. If you freeze them the night before they are kind of like a popsicle which is very cool (pun intended) for hot days.
  • Applesauce in the pouches – no need for a spoon! Also, nice to freeze in advance if you have time.
  • Individually wrapped cheese sticks
  • Individually packaged baby carrots  or apple slices (yes, really)

Room temp snacks

  • Individual bags of Pirate’s Booty, crackers, or granola bars
  • Individually packaged fruit snacks, fruit leathers, dried fruit, or apple chips
  • Cuties or baby bananas

Team Snack Day is part of the child’s team experience. For my guys, they were a very big part. While you don’t want to get your kids all hyped up on sugar, neither do you want to poo-poo this fun aspect of being in little league.

You can find a happy — and healthier — balance in there.

What’s been your experience with team snacks?

What to Take for Team Snack Day | Life as Mom
Originally published April 23, 2012. Updated March 10, 2018.

The comments are full of great ideas. Take from them what is helpful. And honestly, don’t worry about debating the necessity of team snack. Some teams don’t offer a choice, and it’s probably not a hill to die on.

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  1. I have been an athlete since I was 4. I find it cimical that the team sport experience includes food. So much focus is on this and knowing your child is on the field wondering what they get to eat after they play is sad. Kids need to be, yes at an early age, learning and focused on game. Learning about sportsmanship and their athletic capabilities.
    As for pushing our healthy eating on others… goes both ways. Parents who show up with chips, cookies and anything else but water need to be more concerned… what are you teaching your kids?
    As for feeding and siblings??? Get it together parents. Bring food for your other children. They want to eat w a team, need to be on the team. Toddler can share w itโ€™s sibling whoโ€™s in the team.
    Itโ€™s getting out of control!

  2. I brought snacks for tball last night. I brought organic juice, a box of raisins, apple juice pouch, and rice crispie treats. I know the rice crispie treats are processed and not great but they are better than some desserts and I wanted one treat. I did have one child directly hand back the raisins, lol.

  3. My new go-to snack for warm-weather sports are fruit popsicles with no sugar added. They are very popular with my son’s team.

  4. Thank you so much for the snack ideas. I’m bringing snacks for teens and the first thing I thought of, when I read your suggestion for fruit snacks and fruit leather was braces! My teen daughters both have limits on what they can snack on and anything gummy is off limits. Just something you may want to add, as kids will get older and many of them will have braces. Also off limits are hard foods, pita chips, pretzels and such. Hence why I googled “snacks for soccer”. But, otherwise, thank you…again.

  5. Thank you for all the ideas. My 8 year old has been on swim team for 3 years and we don’t do team snacks. But this is our first year playing soccer. Just had our first game last Saturday (game ended at 9:30am). and the snacks that were handed out were small bottles of Gatorade and Milky Way candy bars. I was a bit shocked. We eat clean and healthy in the home, but I don’t expect everyone to do that. And I don’t stress over birthday cake, etc when we’re at a party or during a vacation, but this was kind of yucky.

  6. Thanks for the great ideas. I just got the duty of bringing snacks for an early morning game. My head was rattled then I decided on individual cereal and milk, mini muffins and a banana. Easy peasy, stress free and a great alternative to a breakfast donut!

  7. Thank you so much for the helpful ideas! Hadn’t thought of frozen GoGurt. Just now am thinking how would applesauce pouches be frozen – maybe a slushy? Think I will try that!)

    This is merely a comment for benefit of the wider audience; no criticism of your post at all; just a different perspective on parent expectations. Here goes:

    As a team mom, I do not AT ALL expect for the snack-bringer to bring enough to feed my other kids nor do I want my younger ones to grow to expect that. Second, the snacks do NOT need to be fancy or from Pinterest. Actually, on a hot day with dirty tired little boys focused on playing well and winning, simple no-fuss is better and less distracting! Sadly my 7 yo all-boy kiddo does not have the capacity to appreciate what goes into making cute little robot snacks; he just wants to get down to the business of consuming the snack and getting back to his game or getting home to play with his Legos after the game. 68 cute little robot snack-packs that took some busy, hard-working momma a couple of hours to prepare are too-often glanced at as cute then ripped apart and consumed (not to mention all the things Momma managed to juggle while trying to stay on-task with said snack-pack construction and assembly: a couple of grocery store trips, one trip to Hobby Lobby with 3 other fussy kiddos in-tow who needed 2 trips to the potty, dinner to prepare and a load of laundry to switch over, printer malfunction, disconnected internet, being included on a couple of non-pertinent group text messages, a malfunctioning Cricut, a bunch of art supplies….. you know, a typical day in the life of a mom) Along with a growing number of people these days, I abhor waste about as much as I abhor entitlement and I am working very hard to keep my kids from falling into both of these destructive traps. As a busy working momma who very much appreciates beauty and fun, in this aspect, simple no-fuss is better; all the way around!!!!!

    As for the fairness aspect: All too often we perpetuate the expectation that if one kid gets something then every kid automatically gets the same thing. When one of my kids is part of a group where everyone in the group gets something, then yes I would want my kid in that group to get his fair share. However, the kids NOT in that particular group will not be expecting to receive the same until they are a part of their own similar group. (clear?) I bring our own snacks for the younger ones and they do NOT get to throw a fit. “Fairness” at our house is “sometimes its your day and sometimes its your brothers day; in the end it all evens out so take what you get and don’t throw a fit”. This expectation is well-established so it simply doesn’t have to be stated and re-stated and there are no fits about it, nor do the younger ones get to view this as “unfair”; we shape their views as parents! It isn’t unfair, so let’s not help them perceive it as such. Likewise, each kid does not get a birthday present on the other kids birthday. Sorry, but that idea really irks me and IMHO, the perpetuation of this in our society is making some very entitled kids that simply don’t know how to adapt and “make do”. We give our kids plenty; they have everything they need and much of what they want; however we do not want them taught to expect that everyone they encounter is supposed to give them something; nor is everyone who gives one sibling something supposed to give each sibling something.

    The feeling behind this sentiment is not at all harsh so I hope this does not sound harsh; people regularly whisper to us that we have some of the happiest most well-adjusted well-rounded kids in whatever setting they are in; we firmly believe these two habits are key in this aspect of their development so far so wanted to put this idea out there for others to consider. Parental expectations “run down the leash”. “Learn to be happy in whatsoever state you are in” is our motto and this carries over, even on the ball field.

    I know this goes way deeper than “appropriate team snacks”, but we have been encountering this with our younger one since the start of baseball season this year and we have seen a definite spike in the “gimmees” after about 10-12 games so far so it seemed reasonable to make a plea for “keep it simple” and “we will take care of our other kids; you don’t have to”. Thanks!

    off the soapbox….

    1. I’ll take it one further…I really dislike the idea of bringing snacks. When my husband started coaching flag football, basketball, and baseball my first rule was “no one will sign up for snacks”. When my kids played other sports, many times the game would end right before lunch and then their lunch was spoiled, or people got out of hand with what they would bring, then it felt like people were trying to out-do each other. I think signing up for snacks is totally unnecessary and just one more thing that we need to stress about. I’ll feed my kid, you feed yours. ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Thank goodness someone else thinks all these snacks are unnecessary. Why can’t parents just bring their own kid a snack if they think they’ll need one? My son eats gluten free so I have to do that anyway. The whole thing annoys me.

        1. Agreed about just bringing our own snacks. I think that would be less stressful for everyone. I already bring my son a snack to practice…but I guess it will be fun for the kids to see what new treat they will get each week.

  8. My 3 kids are in soccer and this weekend I have snack duty for my 7 and 12 yo sons…we actually found a pin of robot snacks that I wanted to try, thunk it was a juicebox body/orange or alplesouce head/and candy arms/ and little raisin boxes for the feet – of course my 12yo thinks he’s too grown for this but my little one loves the idea. Our teams do a healthy snack during halftime and a “fun” snack after the game. Think I’ll try the frozen GoGurt for both halftime snacks.

  9. One of the favorite snacks last year was cubes of cheddar, Monterey jack, pepper jack, and Swiss with cut up meat sticks. I just saw a page that had fruit kabobs with fruit dip, I think I’ll try that one. If we have a morning game we bring doughnuts. Not so healthy but it’s a treat.

  10. This blog post may have been a while ago but there are so many great tips for this newbie team mom! I really appreciate your ideas and all the great comments from the older and wiser!!:)

  11. Bottled water with a piece of fruit is my go to snack. Apples, clementines, and bananas are my favorite options. When it is very hot outside, bags of frozen grapes are a great option too. Added bonus: I have yet to have a player allergic to fruit so it makes for a very safe snack for the entire team.

  12. We sometimes have evening games. I order pizza and have paper plates, napkins and juice boxes. Parents appreciate having non-candy snacks, kids’ dinner covered and can head straight home for bed!

  13. We usually take apples, bananas, or fruit leather. I like to pick up boxes of organic fruit leather at Target (Archer Farms brand) when it’s on sale for +/- $2.49 for a box of 10. Only once was it a problem when one of my son’s teammates had new braces and couldn’t eat sticky foods. A friend’s pediatrician challenged her to be the mom that set the trend of bringing healthy snacks vs bags of cheetos and doritos. Thanks for the other ideas; my favorites were raisins, string cheese, and squeeze yogurts.

  14. This is perfect timing as we are assigned snack in 2 weeks for our 5 y/o’s soccer team. We are trying to avoid processed foods. Our school district requires all classroom snacks to be unopened, packaged foods – so little creativity. Soccer doesn’t have the same rule but like you mentioned, I don’t want the other moms worrying about food safety. My daugher would probably cheer if I could figure out how to bring individual packages of the freeze dried corn or the freeze dried yogurt bites I sell as those are two of her favorite snacks – but I only have large containers that would have to be separated out into ziploc bags which is back to food safety questions by other families. So I think I’m going to use your idea for the frozen yogurt tubes. My girls begged and begged for them, and whenever I offer them for snacktime, they aren’t interested. So sounds like a perfect way to use them up!

  15. Great post and so timely! I always sign up for snacks for one of the first games so I can “set the standard” hopefully of bringing healthier snacks. I’ll also often offer to be the parent in charge of getting the others to sign up – that way when I send out the email I can list any food allergies, suggestions, etc.
    Like you, I prefer homemade items, but this is one time we do pre-packaged also – kids size granola bars go over well (Cliff or some other brand without HFCS, etc.), fruit (those applesauce in a pouch and cuties have been most requested this year), dried fruit leather – I can typically find a brand without added sugars, and the little bottles of water – hate that it’s not reusable, but it’s a lot healthier than Capri Sun!

  16. My husband is coaching our 6 year old’s soccer team this spring season. We asked the parents to bring “healthy” snacks this year. So far, the response has been pretty good. Thank you for reinforcing your shared ideas on this. And also making us feel less alone as mom’s trying to raise healthy children on healthy foods on a sometimes not-so-healthy financial budget. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Great list! The fruit ideas are my favorites. And do keep in mind that granola bars are not nut free. While many do not contain nuts, they are often processed with peanuts, so they’re completely off limits for someone with a peanut allergy.

    1. It’s true a lot of them do, but not all. You just have to read a lot of labels.

  18. My kids love to bring watermelon slices for soccer snacks. That’s always a big messy hit!

  19. I love the idea of yogurt tubes, raisins and cheese sticks. I’m always trying to come up with healthier ideas for soccer games. I always cringe when the parents whip out the cookies and other overly-processed foods, but I figure we don’t really eat them at home, so once in awhile is ok. Everything in moderation, right. Cuties and bananas (they really love those mini-bananas that some stores carry) are a big hit with my daughters team. I’ve also done little baggies of grapes too depending on the season.

  20. Best timing ever – I’m up for the very first time – TONIGHT! ๐Ÿ˜‰ We have been told there is a girl with diabetes on the team, so to go “low sugar”. I was thinking about all kinds of healthy home-made ideas, but your point about people wondering about (my) kitchen didn’t even occur to me. One of my ideas had been cut up cheese and triscuits, plus some fruit/fruit leathers, but, doh! cheese strings are totally the way to go. I’m off to Costco in just a minute!! Thanks for this post ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Have you seen the Everybody Loves Raymond episode about “approved snacks”? That was my first thought when I read this ๐Ÿ™‚ (Check out clips on YouTube if you want to and have a minute ๐Ÿ™‚ )

    Thanks for the tips! I guess this would be a good place to use coupons, too, if a good deal came along.

    1. Just finished the Youtube clip of this episode, I just had to see what you were talking about…and OMG, it is hilarious! I love and miss that show ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. My son plays sports and last Sunday the mom brought the lunch box sized apples. My son loved these!

  23. Bananas, Cuties, grapes, and whole apples are my favorite easy snacks to bring.

  24. i have done air popped popcorn plain in brown paper lunch bags and that has been popular for the kids…

  25. I love the frozen yogurt idea – but what brands are free of dyes (and what stores do you find them at)? I haven’t even looked at those in a long time because I thought they were all full of HFCS and dye ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I often buy ours from Trader Joe’s because they are also organic. But if you don’t have one of those around, the GoGurt brand has a version called “Simply GoGurt” that has a much cleaner ingredient list than their regular ones.

    2. Aldis has moo-tubes. They are free of dyes (natural fruit/veggies for color) and gluten free. I think you get 8 or 10 in a box for under $4 with two flavors in each box. The names are adorable too, cheery cherry and wacky watermelon. There is a melonberry and cotton candy flavor too

  26. One family brought prepackaged sliced apples to our kindergarten soccer game.

  27. It will be our turn to bring snacks for t-ball in the next couple of weeks too. Thanks for the suggestions. I love the string cheese idea. My kids love those and it is a much healthier option than say oreos.

  28. Great post! As a mom of an allergy kid (no milk, corn, or dyes), I appreciate your comment on being allergy conscious. I always have extra “safe” snacks, but I really appreciate it when my kiddo can have what the other kids are having. I also shop discount stores like Big Lots for prepackaged food – I’ve found great deals on damaged boxes, but the bagged snacks inside are fine and often name brand.

  29. Great timing on your post since I am up for snack duty twice in the next two weeks! Thank you for a very well compiled list!