I know you always find the time to milk your own legumes, churn your own yogurt, and bake your own granola bars from organic oats, orchard apples and freshly-pestled cinnamon – but I on the other hand could use some help around here. Between us two working parents, a tight budget, and a feral toddler with a stubborn (and mostly non-sensical) to-do list, our family has had to find some middle ground between getting it perfect, and simply getting by. I needed a go-to reserve of healthy, store-bought packaged snacks I could grab on the go, pop in my beach bag, or send my daughter off with and still feel good about. And with that, the following list was born.
Benchmarks to Shoot For in a Nutritious Snack:
When choosing a vegan packaged snack, the Dietitian in me wants 5 things:
1. A decent source of protein (ideally 3+ grams)
2. Minimal added sugar (6 or less grams)
3. Dietary fiber (at least 2-3 grams per serving)
4. Low in sodium (200mg or less per serving)
5. A health-promoting fatty acid profile (0g trans fat, <2g saturated fats, + healthy nuts & seeds)
Now, that’s not to say every snack below perfectly reaches each of these goals, however these benchmarks do provide a solid framework with which to analyze the overall quality of any individual product.
Now that we have our nutrient goals in mind, and well – I’ve spent the last 3 weeks scouring the aisles of every major grocery store within driving range – let’s jump into the kid-approved A-listers, shall we?
Here they are, in no particular order, separated into the following categories:
Bars & Sweet Treats, Non-Dairy Products & Squeezes, & Savory Snacks.
The Best Store-Bought Plant-Based Snacks for Kiddos:
Bars & Sweet Treats:
1. Lara Bars
The world’s simplest snack bar. Packed with healthy fats, sweetened with whole dates and devoid of any preservatives or questionable additives. 6g protein, 0g added sugar, 4g fiber, 85mg sodium, 0g trans fat, 2g saturated fat and plenty of delicious nuts makes for a 5-star rating in my book. Bon appetite, littles!
2. Go Macro Kids Bars
Fair warning on these – the packaging is unfortunately NOT husband-proof. Bulk purchases recommended. 4g protein, 6g added sugar, 1g fiber, 30mg sodium, 0g trans fat, 1g saturated fat and the power of organic sunflower butter in every bite. Mmm. Dietitian-approved. 5 stars.
3. Made Good School-Safe Granola Bars
Extra credit for school-safe ingredients, an allergen-free facility and (GASP) vegetable extracts…?! Above & beyond work right here. 2g protein, 6g added sugar, 2g fiber, 10mg sodium, 0g trans fat, 1g saturated fat and 2 grams unsaturated fatty acids. 4.5/5 stars on this one. LOVE the allergen-awareness...wish there were a little more going on in the protein department.
4. Annie’s Organic Cinnamon Bunny Grahams (contains honey)
This one is for the primarily plant-based families out there, as these do contain a touch of organic honey. 2g protein, 7g added sugar, <1g fiber, 115mg sodium, 0g trans fat, 0g saturated fat and 4 grams unsaturated fatty acids. 4/5 stars for me. LOVE the whole grain flour base, but slightly higher in sugar and with minimal amounts of protein or fiber to boot.
Non-Dairy Products & Squeezes:
5. Nancy’s Probiotic Oat Milk Yogurt
Whole oats, fava bean protein, probiotics AND strawberry rhubarb flavor?! Safe to say this brand is a household go-to. 6g protein, 7g added sugar, 2g fiber, 0mg sodium, 0g trans fat, 0.5g saturated fat and perfect to pair with some tasty almond-butter granola. 5/5 stars…this is my favorite plant-based yogurt to date.
6. Noka Superfood Smoothies
Bonus points for organic fruit, bonus points for no refrigeration needed and BONUS POINTS FOR SOME PROTEIN IN THE VEGAN POUCH DEPARTMENT. 5g protein, 0g added sugar, 2g fiber, 5mg sodium, 0g trans fat, 0g saturated fat and a touch of flax-seeds too. 6/5 stars. PRAISED. BE.
7. Once Upon a Farm Dairy-Free Yogurt
No preservatives or concentrates, BPA-free packaging and cold-pressure protected to lock-in those nutrients. Uhmmm, LOVE. 5g protein, 0g added sugar, 2g fiber, 0mg sodium, 0g trans fat, 1g saturated fat and a creamy, probiotic-rich, pumpkin-seed milk base. 6/5 stars. Obsessed.
8. Once Upon a Farm Dairy-Free Overnight Oats
Same brand, same fan-girling here. 4g protein, 0g added sugar, 4g fiber, 0mg sodium, 0g trans fat, 1.5g saturated fat and a creamy, coconut milk base. 5 stars.
9. Mush Overnight Oats
These were my go-to when I worked at the hospital – and Camper loves them now too! I’ll be honest, they taste even sweeter with a bed-headed toddler on your lap (in place of a meatloaf-scented cafeteria lingering in the distance). Yay private practice! 6g protein, 0g added sugar, 6g fiber, 105mg sodium, 0g trans fat, 0g saturated fat and a creamy, almond milk base. 5 star material!
10. Organic Mama Chia Squeezes
With 1200mg of Omega-3 rich ALA and 1% of proceeds donated to the planet? You’ve got my vote, Mama. 2g protein, 0g added sugar, 3g fiber, 5mg sodium, 0g trans fat, 0g saturated fat and a fun-to-slurp chia-infused base. 4.5/5 stars. Love the healthy fats, wish there was a touch more protein along for the ride.
11. Peter Rabbit Organic Pouches
The perfect little on-the-go fruit and veggie boost. 2g protein, 0g added sugar, 2g fiber, 10mg sodium, 0g trans fat, 0g saturated fat and 0 fat overall. 4/5 stars here. Love the fruits and veggies, missing some balance in the protein and healthy fats department for me.
12. Justin’s Classic Almond Butter
If your child struggles to eat enough calories on a daily basis like mine, meet your new partner-in-crime. 6g protein, 0g added sugar, 3g fiber, 15mg sodium, 0g trans fat, 3g saturated fat and a “knead-and-squeeze” nut butter base perfect to pair with an apple or banana on the fly. 5 big ones from me.
13. Organic Nuttzo 2Go
Same concept here, but with even more variety from a creamy blend of cashews, brazil nuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, hazelnuts, almonds and pumpkin seeds. 3g protein, 0g added sugar, 2g fiber, 20mg sodium, 0g trans fat, 1g saturated fat and slightly smaller 100-calorie serving. I’d still give this one 5 stars despite lower protein and calories per serving, since some may prefer a smaller portion size for their little ones to minimize potential food waste or better suit their needs.
14. Ripple Original Dairy-Free Pea Milk
Alas, a plant-based milk perfect for kiddos - rich in calories, protein, healthy fats, calcium and vitamin D too. This is the exact milk we buy for my toddler, and the one I recommend to my pediatric clients most often as well. 8g protein, 6g added sugar, <1g fiber, 135mg sodium, 0g trans fat, 0.5g saturated fat and a vitamin-rich pea-protein base. Certain varieties contain more or less sweetener (based on your family’s preference/palate), and some even come fortified with vegan DHA. 6/5 stars. ADORE.
15. Beanfield’s Vegan Cracklin’s
You’ve got to love when navy beans find their way into ranch-flavored, snackable form. 4g protein, 0g added sugar, 3g fiber, 190mg sodium, 0g trans fat, 1g saturated fat and the hunger-crushing power of beans and legumes too. 5 stars!
Same, same. But delectably different. 4g protein, 1g added sugar, 3g fiber, 140mg sodium, 0g trans fat, 0g saturated fat and an organic chickpea flour base. Plus, bonus points for weaseling their way into Costco locations nationwide! Hipster Cheetos in bulk? 5 stars about it.
17. Enjoy Life Lentil Chips
A little higher in sodium, these ones – so potentially not a great fit for children under 2, or for hypertensive family members that may be tempted to reach for these on the regular. 3g protein, 0g added sugar, 0g fiber, 340mg sodium, 0g trans fat, 0.5g saturated fat and a lentil flour base seasoned with turmeric and other beneficial herbs & spices. 3/5 stars in my book. Love the lentil base, but could do with a little more protein and fiber, as well as less sodium per serving.
18. From the Ground Up Cauliflower Crackers
Wait, so cauliflower and whole grain rice are the first ingredients in Cheez-its now…? The future is HERE. 2g protein, 0.5g added sugar, 2g fiber, 325mg sodium, 0g trans fat, 1.5g saturated fat and vegetable extracts too. 4/5 stars. Love the ingredient list, wish it added up to more protein and less sodium per handful.
19. IWON Organics Protein Stix
Full disclosure, I haven’t tried these ones. What’s my favorite flavor? Don’t ask. Are they spicy? I plead the 5th. But with 7g of protein and a reasonable amount of sodium per serving I’m already running back for more (metaphorically, of course). 7g protein, 0g added sugar, 3g fiber, 190mg sodium, 0g trans fat, 0g saturated fat and a whole grain and legume base. 5/5 stars (and ordering online as we speak!).
20. Sprout’s Peanut Butter Puffs
These are simply a larger, heartier version of infant peanut butter puffs (which are the PERFECT way to introduce your child to peanut butter in order to reduce their allergy risk and avoid the potential choking hazard of real, creamy stuff). Love the protein, love the sodium content, love the simplicity. 5g protein, 2g added sugar, 2g fiber, 130mg sodium, 0g trans fat, and 1.5g saturated fat. 5 stars!
21. Vegan Rob’s Beet Puffs
Okay Rob – these are crafty, dude. Like cheese puffs, but allergen-free and caked in antioxidant-rich beet powder. I see what you were going for there. 3g protein, 0g added sugar, 1g fiber, 135mg sodium, 0g trans fat, 0.5g saturated fat and made with whole grain sorghum meal. 4.5/5 stars for these. Not a ton of substance here, but a great choice when you or your little one are looking for a simple, crunchy fix.
I hope you found this list to be a valuable resource for nutrient-dense kid-approved snacks on the go!
The majority of these products can be found in top grocery chains or health-food markets (like Whole Foods, Sprouts, etc.) nationwide, if not deliverable via online retailers such as Amazon or Thrive Market.
Of course I’ve compiled my favorite plant-based purchases here, since my audience is predominantly plant-focused. But for more recommendations on omnivorous snacks for little ones, or explicit guidance on picky eating, starting solids, baby-led weaning, prenatal nutrition or how to raise children to have a healthy relationship to food and their bodies, please don’t hesitate to reach out one-on-one. I would love to speak further about your family’s specific wellness goals and formulate resources and recommendations with your child’s distinct needs in mind.
Cheers & until next time!
This post was written & medically reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.
Grace Pascale, MS, RDN. Grace Pascale Nutrition.