Healthy Snacks for Your Hungry Teens

Teenage girls (16-17) with young woman in domestic kitchen, laughing

Patryce Bak/Getty Images

When teens get hungry, they want food fast. They're old enough to make something themselves or run off to the store for something that might be less than nutritious, so get ready for your hungry teens and stock up on these snacks:​

Frozen Grapes

Buy a pound of seedless grapes and pluck them from the vine. Wash them and place a handful of grapes into each of several sandwich-sized freezer bags. Put the bags in the freezer. Once the grapes are frozen, they develop a popsicle like texture and taste deliciously sweet without any added sugar.

Fresh Fruit

Fruit
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

This one is easy, just fill a large bowl with fresh fruit and keep it on your kitchen counter. Good choices include apples, bananas, pears, peaches, and oranges. Fruit provides fiber and energizing carbohydrates to fuel active lifestyles.

Fresh Vegetables and Dip

Veggies and dip
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Teens love chips and dip, but they don't need the extra fats and sodium found in traditional potato chips. Replace the chips with fresh-cut raw vegetables. Try carrot sticks or slices, broccoli, cauliflower, raw green beans, snap peas or celery. Cut them up ahead of time and keep them in the refrigerator. Serve the vegetables with hummus or guacamole. Some salad dressing works too. Obviously, some dips are healthier than others, but the focus is on getting your teens to eat more vegetables.

Whole Grain Bread and Peanut Butter

Make the switch from white bread to 100-percent whole-grain bread and any sandwich is instantly better for you. Peanut butter adds protein, minerals, and healthy fats. Try other types of butter such as soy nut butter, almond butter, or cashew butter.

Fruit Spread Instead of Jelly

If your teen has sugar cravings, bring home 100-percent fruit spreads instead of jam or jelly that's made with extra sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Or better yet, offer fresh fruit like apples, pears, and oranges.

Lite Popcorn

Popcorn
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

What could be easier than tossing a bag of popcorn in the microwave? Popcorn is high in fiber, so it makes an excellent snack as long as you don't drown it in butter or margarine. You can choose brands that are lower in fat and made with less salt or buy a microwave popcorn popper. Let your teen experiment with different seasonings that add flavor and zest without added calories.

Whole Grain Pretzels

Whole grains add fiber to your teen's diet. Regular pretzels are made from over-processed white flour that has much of the fiber removed. Choose 100-percent whole grain pretzels that retain the goodness of fiber and still taste great when they're slathered with mustard.

Fiber is necessary for a healthy digestive system, and most teens (and adults) don't get enough.

Make Your Own Trail Mix

Trail mix
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Does your teen like to grab a granola bar for a quick treat? Granola bars sound like they should be good for you, but they often contain unwanted fats, sugar, and extra calories. You can make a healthier alternative by making your own trail mix. Blend one cup each of two different 100-percent whole grain cereals, like whole grain Cheerios and Shredded Wheat. Add one cup of mixed nuts and one-half cup of raisins or other dried fruits with no sugar added. You can even add a half cup of chocolate chips. Top it off with some shelled sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds or soy nuts.

Protein Bars

Like granola, commercially prepared protein bars can be high in sugar and calories. Make homemade protein bars so that you can control the ingredients.

Smoothies

Fruit smoothies are much better for your teen than milkshakes or malts. Use frozen bananas as a base for the smoothies. When your bananas become a little too ripe for your taste, cut them into one-inch chunks and keep them in the freezer. To make a smoothie, just toss four or five chunks of frozen bananas into a high-quality blender with a cup of low-fat milk, a handful of strawberries or blueberries and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Blend until smooth and pour into a tall glass.

Hummus and Pita or Crackers

Keep some hummus on hand to serve with whole wheat pita bread, whole-grain crackers or breadsticks. Hummus is made with chickpeas (or garbanzo beans), which makes it a terrific source of protein and healthy fats.

Yogurt Parfait

Plain yogurt is good for your teens if they're not getting enough calcium, but the taste may be kind of boring. Spruce up yogurt with berries, sliced peaches, and crunchy cereal flakes, nuts or seeds. Plain non-fat or low-fat yogurt can also be used to make nutritious lower fat veggie dips.

Healthy Beverages

Tonic water
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Teens love beverages with lots of sugar and caffeine, like sodas, coffee drinks, and energy drinks. The problems are that energy drinks may be bad for kids, especially later in the day because the caffeine may make for some sleepless nights, and the added sugar is just extra calories. Make sure you keep better-for-you beverages on hand, like bottles of 100-percent fruit and vegetable juices, low-fat milk, sparkling water, and plain chilled water. 

Getting Rid of the Bad Stuff

It may not be enough to supply healthy snacks. You may need to remove some junk foods too, but it depends on your kid's eating habits. One teen can easily ignore a tub of ice cream in the freezer while another can't resist the temptation to devour it all in one sitting. If you have a teen (or adult or child) in your home who has a difficult time resisting high-calorie foods, keep such foods out of the house.

Cutting back on junk foods doesn't mean you have to deprive your family of fun foods. Every kid deserves a treat now and then. Just try not to let them get out of hand. When you decide an ice cream treat is in order, hit the ice cream shop. Don't buy bags of candy bars at the grocery or discount store, but occasionally bring home one individual candy bar for each family member. The same idea applies to eating cakes, cookies, greasy chips and donuts: They should be considered treats, not daily dietary staples.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. US Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central.

  2. Slavin JL, Lloyd B. Health benefits of fruits and vegetables. Adv Nutr. 2012;3(4):506-16. doi:10.3945/an.112.002154

  3. US Department of Agriculture. Focus on whole fruits.

  4. American Heart Association. Popcorn as a snack: healthy hit or dietary horror show?. Updated June 2019.

  5. US Department of Agriculture. All about the grain group.

  6. Magrone T, Russo MA, Jirillo E. Cocoa and Dark Chocolate Polyphenols: From Biology to Clinical Applications. Front Immunol. 2017;8:677.  doi:10.3389/fimmu.2017.00677

  7. Mills S, Brown H, Wrieden W, White M, Adams J. Frequency of eating home cooked meals and potential benefits for diet and health: cross-sectional analysis of a population-based cohort study. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2017;14(1):109.  doi:10.1186/s12966-017-0567-y

  8. Wallace TC, Murray R, Zelman KM. The Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Chickpeas and Hummus. Nutrients. 2016;8(12):766. doi:10.3390/nu8120766

  9. Keast DR, Hill gallant KM, Albertson AM, Gugger CK, Holschuh NM. Associations between yogurt, dairy, calcium, and vitamin D intake and obesity among U.S. children aged 8-18 years: NHANES, 2005-2008. Nutrients. 2015;7(3):1577-93.  doi:10.3390/nu7031577

  10. De sanctis V, Soliman N, Soliman AT, et al. Caffeinated energy drink consumption among adolescents and potential health consequences associated with their use: a significant public health hazard. Acta Biomed. 2017;88(2):222-231.  doi:10.23750/abm.v88i2.6664