Simple Snacks for Busy Mamas

Post by Contributing Writer, Michele of Frugal Granola

Although it’s nice to have healthy snacks available for everyone in the family, there are certain seasons of motherhood where they’re pretty essential.

During early pregnancy, small protein-dense snacks can help with morning sickness. Later on in pregnancy, snacks can fuel you through the day, when you feel like your tummy is too “full” with a baby to eat much of a meal. Then during seasons of breastfeeding- especially those early days, when you’re always nursing- it’s important to keep up those extra calories as you nourish a little one and maintain a milk supply.

Busy mamas are likely often munching “one-handed,” as they juggle a nursing baby, a toddler on the run, a stroller, or other tasks. Hopefully, you’ll have a chance to sit down and rest, but you might still be holding a little one with one arm (and maybe sharing a bite or two of that snack, too).

Here are a few of my “one handed” snack favorites.

(Some take a bit more prep-work than others, so choose what works best for you. If you have help available at times, hand them this list! If you have a chance, make a big batch ahead of time & stash it in the fridge.)

  • Hard-Boiled Eggs + a bit of Sea Salt (If you have an extra moment, you can mix them into egg salad.)
  • Crockpot Oatmeal or Brown Rice + a little Whole Milk and/or Peanut Butter or Cheese (My husband would measure it into the pot in the morning, and I just had to flip the “on” switch and stir in any additions. Hint: It’s easier to eat one-handed out of a mug than a bowl.)
  • Homemade Fruit & Nut Snack Bars (I like Katie’s Reverse LaraBar recipe), or if you’re really desperate, buy a box of packaged bars at a bulk discount. I like to stash a couple bars in car compartments or diaper bags.
  • Healthy Fudge Balls (similar to the snack bars)
  • Homemade Trail Mix, with nutrient-dense nuts, dried fruit, coconut, & a bit of good dark chocolate or a savory-seasoned mixture (Buy ingredients in bulk for best cost economy; your toddler will be glad to help pour into a mixing bowl for you.)
  • Smoothies (Frozen berries or pre-diced fruit pieces are easiest, so you don’t have to chop up anything; just pour ingredients into a blender. When my baby was afraid of the blender noise, I used to run to the garage & turn it on really quick!)
  • Natural Jerky (Grass-fed meats are most nourishing; dehydrate your own or purchase from your favorite local farm or meat market.)
  • Cheese Slices/Cubes (You don’t have to buy special cheese stick packages; a regular block of mozzarella will tear into pieces just the same.) 
  • Prepared Sandwich (A friend shared this tip with me: prepare a sandwich or two ahead of time, cut it into quarters, and then just grab a piece from the fridge when you need a small bite to eat.)
  • Cooked Salad Shrimp (You can often find this in the freezer section or at the butcher/deli cases. Look for seafood from safe, sustainable sources. Mix with a bit of mayo or yogurt, and salad greens if desired.)
  • Avocado + a bit of Sea Salt (Scoop out with a spoon, and slice if desired.)
  • Baked Yam + a sprinkle of Walnuts, Butter, & Sea Salt or Raw Honey (For simplicity, bake it whole in a baking dish or crockpot.)
  • A bowl of Cultured Cottage Cheese Eat plain or stir in some fresh berries. (A mere 1/2 cup contains a whopping 14 grams of protein, plus good probiotics!)
  • A glass of Coconut Water for rehydration and nourishment

What are your favorite “Mama Snacks?”

About Michele

Michele and her husband Calvin live a simple & sustainable life in rural Washington with their two- going on three- (busy!) little ones at Hampton Creek Inn. She takes joy in the daily ministry of delving into creativity, traditional homemaking & hospitality, homeschooling in everyday moments, and smooching her husband in the woods. Michele loves encouraging women and equipping them for frugal, natural living through her blog, Frugal Granola.

24 Responses to Simple Snacks for Busy Mamas

  1. Rachael August 29, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    Thanks for the ideas, I really need to get back into healthy snacking rather than some of the not so nutritionally dense things I’ve been eating lately!

  2. Amy August 12, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

    Another one-handed snack (once it’s made) that I made a couple days ago – lentil cookies by Alton Brown. Just substitute the sugar – definitely healthy, delicious, and perfect way to add in more protein for pregnant mamas!

  3. Debra Worth @ Sweet Kisses and Dirty Dishes August 12, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    During my first trimester of my last pregnancy I would cut up fresh fruit and vegetables and put them in plastic bags. They made great grab-able snacks for Christopher and me.

  4. Christine August 10, 2011 at 8:31 am #

    I love these ideas, Michele. It always helps to have a healthy idea handy when you are hungry!

  5. Brandy August 10, 2011 at 7:41 am #

    Delicious ideas!!!

  6. Amy August 9, 2011 at 5:45 am #

    I love Sunsweet’s individually-wrapped prunes. During the busiest seasons of life, I don’t always eat as much fruit and vegetables as I should, so these are a snack I can feel good about. They’re more expensive than a regular box of prunes, but I think they’re sweeter and juicier.

  7. Kika August 6, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

    How do you culture cottage cheese?

    I find that with my kids now ages 6, 11, 15 I do not have the same need for snacking as I used to… in fact, I simply need less food in general. That stage of life really does have unique nutritional challenges. I still appreciate all these snack ideas – we are on the go lots and I work hard to keep up with feeding my growing family :)

    • Michele @ Frugal Granola August 7, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

      During this season, I’m keeping things really simple. I’m not making the cottage cheese; I’ve just been purchasing the cultured cottage cheese from “Nancy’s” (who also makes yogurt, based out of Eugene, OR).


  8. Sarah August 6, 2011 at 9:48 am #

    One more quick snack–tuna! Limit intake during pregnancy, but there are 20+ grams of protein in one can and can work okay as a one-handed snack. For making sandwiches ahead of time, I would just toast the bread first to keep it from getting soggy. Instead of mayo, try some Greek yogurt for extra protein.

    • Michele @ Frugal Granola August 6, 2011 at 11:34 am #

      Our family usually chooses the canned wild Alaska salmon instead of tuna, as a typically safer & more sustainable option than tuna (usually purchased on sale, so it’s similar in price per oz to the canned tuna). Right now, (as is often the case in the 1st trimester) “fishy smells” aren’t very pleasant- but yes, in other seasons, it’s a great protein option! :) I like to use our homemade yogurt instead of mayo for salads.


  9. Jennifer August 6, 2011 at 7:14 am #

    Thanks for this list. I used to feel crazy dashing away to the basement to use the blender! Glad to know I’m not the only one. Those days are past now and my toddler loves the zoom zoom :)

    • Michele @ Frugal Granola August 6, 2011 at 11:35 am #

      Hehe! :) Yes, now my toddler is fascinated by the “vroom vroom machine!” Time passes so quickly, doesn’t it?


  10. Nina Nelson August 5, 2011 at 10:36 pm #

    We are starting the GAPS diet so it’s so nice to see a lot of stuff that we can eat or modify easily. Thanks for the great list!

  11. Amy August 5, 2011 at 7:44 pm #

    Have you ever checked out ?? Some yummy snack ideas ( LOVE the coconuty balls or the PB & J Truffles), They also have some ways to make healthy food fun for kids.

  12. Lindsey @ The Herbangardener August 5, 2011 at 6:20 pm #

    This is a great list, new baby or not! I love the sandwich bites idea. :-)
    Cut-up fruit is a favorite in my house, or bite-sized fruit like grapes or cherries. Those would be great for a one-handed snack, too.

  13. stef August 5, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    moms are not busier than normal people :(

    • Melissa August 5, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

      moms are normal people

  14. Sarah August 5, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

    Cheese cheese and more cheese!

  15. PregnantOne August 5, 2011 at 8:06 am #

    This is actually a very helpful list for me – thank you!

  16. Emily August 5, 2011 at 7:35 am #

    Great list! Thanks!

  17. M. August 5, 2011 at 7:14 am #

    This last pregnancy, Clif bars (both the regular ones, and the kids Zbars) have been a lifesaver! I buy them bulk at Costco. They may not be as good as homemade, but they’ve sure helped me maintain energy without heading for the junk food! :-)

  18. Alex August 5, 2011 at 6:42 am #

    Fruit leather is a must for us and homemade crackers with cheese. Of course, fruits and veggies, but if you do get a couple extra seconds it is great to make these into fun shapes and surprise your little ones the next day for snack time. For example, attach some green grapes together with tooth picks and attach some whole clove eyes and half toothpick antennae for a cute little caterpillar. I have a great picture of one on my blog

  19. c August 5, 2011 at 5:26 am #

    Love the great ideas! I really enjoy a salmon cheese ball (or even regular cheese ball for that matter). Just take a block of cream cheese and a can of salmon, take off the skin if there is any, and mash it all up together and chill. Good ideas of things to add are liquid smoke, raw garlic, horseradish, dill or pepper. I also find that canned sardines, while not my favorite in flavor can be REALLY useful to keep around for a need protein/ omega boost.

  20. Melissa August 5, 2011 at 4:44 am #

    I have 4 little ones – 5 and under…so I know all about 1 handed snacks. Banana’s are always a good go to and chocolate covered almonds are like medicine. ;)

    I also purchase Vega bars in bulk (they are a bit expensive, but pack a tremendous nutritional punch!) There are days when its 11am or later, my tummy is growling because I haven’t eaten anything…so I’ll grab a bar. I also use their smoothie mix…just scoop, add water and shake. Again, it has a tremendous amount of nutrition, and I get my chocolate fix at the same time.