The Snack Jar

The Snack Jar Technique is used to limit a child’s snacking, using healthy options and encouraging her to eat a balanced diet at mealtimes…

The Snack Jar

Children who snack throughout the day tend not to have a balanced diet. Encouraging your child to limit snacks in favour of a main meal is healthy, as well as making mealtimes less stressful.

This sounds great in theory, but if you’ve just emptied your child’s dinner, untouched, into the bin, it’s tempting to fall back on snacks later just so they eat something.

If this sounds familiar, you need to find the middle ground by offering a limited choice of nutritional snacks throughout the day.

How to limit your child’s snacks

  • Decorate an empty box or use a kitchen jar (use multiple boxes or jars if you have more than one child). Put the child’s name on it and leave it somewhere accessible.
  • Involve your child in choosing a selection of snacks at the supermarket or bake some of your own.
  • Keep the snacks healthy. Children will enjoy the reward ritual of the snack jar as much as the snacks themselves, they don't need to be full of sugar!
  • Put a selection of two or three snacks (or more, depending on how filling they are and how old your child is) in the jar, and give your child control over when they eat them.
  • Use the snack box throughout the day and allow your child to choose when to take something out, except during the hour before mealtimes.
  • Once the snacks are gone for the day, don’t replace them. Refill the box or jar together the next day.
  • Be consistent about what’s in the box and what they’re allowed (for example, they can’t choose chocolate bars but they can have a tub of yoghurt or dried fruit).

    Healthy (easy!) snack ideas for kids

  • dried fruit (apricots, raisins, currents, goji berries, dried cranberries) 
  • toasted sesame or pumpkin seeds
  • frozen fruit (try freezing grapes, blueberries, strawberries or bit of chopped melon, mango or kiwi) 
  • Fruit juice popsicles (just get some ice-pop moulds then refill with half 100% fruit juice of your choice, half water)
  • Smoothies (let them make their own!)
  • Raw fruit and vegetables (chopped up fine and served on a fun plate with a dip)
  • Pita pockets (wholemeal, filled with savoury filling of choice)
  • Popcorn (pop it yourself, and don’t add much (if any) salt or sugar)
  • Nuts (be careful of nut allergies)
  • Low fat yoghurt (try freezing it for a special effect)
  • Rice cakes

Related links

Related Advice