Aug 13

4 Protein-Packed On the Go Bento Box Snack Ideas // Hack Your Snacks

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This post has been sponsored by Jack Link’s in partnership with Ahalogy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Soccer started back up last week, with team camp at the beginning of the week and team practices following toward the end. With the first day of school this Wednesday, I'm already starting to think ahead about how I'm going to keep these kids of mine fueled in the short gap between school and practice.

Especially my 8 year old... Lordy, this boy is growing like a weed! He's always been tall and thin for his age, but over the summer he's shot up and surpassed my 10-year-old daughter by several inches.

His metabolism is in overdrive, and it's not uncommon for him to come to me asking for a snack within an hour of eating a meal. I'd classify him as more of a grazer -- always flitting in and out of the house, grabbing small meals frequently, so I try to keep plenty of protein-packed snacks on hand to keep his belly full for as long as possible.

Things like nuts, dried fruits, granola bars and string cheese are high on both his list and mine. Oh, and jerky...

Bento Box Snack Ideas -- bento boxes are perfect for keeping hungry kids fueled between school and sports! | via @unsophisticook on unsophisticook.com

Yes, jerky! With 12 grams of lean protein per serving, there's no sense in limiting jerky to backpacks while hiking or camping trips. Jerky is an everyday snacking staple in our home for the whole family -- it's simple and easy, protein-packed fuel!

If you haven't perused the varieties of jerky available these days, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. I picked up four different flavors of Jack Link's jerky on a recent trip to Kroger: Original, Peppered, Teriyaki and Turkey. And that was just the tip of the iceberg -- you'll find many more delicious varieties in stores.

Bento Box Snack Ideas -- bento boxes are perfect for keeping hungry kids fueled between school and sports! | via @unsophisticook on unsophisticook.com

My New Method For Hacking Snacks

For many years I've hacked our snacks by dividing them up assembly-line style into snack size ziploc bags. I still do this for road trips and other occasions where I can monitor what's being eaten.

But I've found that when I make my own prepackaged snacks and my kids have unmonitored access to them, they don't always eat what I consider a well-balanced snack with fruit, protein and some healthy fat. Particularly my 8 year old, who would gladly down three baggies of jerky in a single sitting.

So I've taken to using bento-style boxes for our daily snacking, which has several benefits over my prior method:

  1. It eliminates the unnecessary waste created by bagging individual portions.
  2. I can create my version of a well-balanced snack by filling each section with the snacks I'd prefer my kids pair together.
  3. They're ultra portable, meaning I can tuck it into my purse as I'm heading out the door. Then I can pull it out on demand when my kids get hungry, preventing a full-blown "hangry" tantrum!

I love this stainless steel bento box, in particular, because it fits easily into my purse or a backpack. Plus, it has three compartments (including a long thin one perfect for jerky!), which makes for balanced snacking. The downside? They're a little pricey. You can find plastic bento boxes that are much less expensive, but they'll eventually wear out and need replaced. If you can afford to invest in a stainless steel one, I highly recommend it. With a little care, it will last a lifetime!

Bento Box Snack Ideas -- bento boxes are perfect for keeping hungry kids fueled between school and sports! Shown here with @jacklinks Turkey Jerky, dried cranberries & granola clusters + 3 more combo ideas... | via @unsophisticook on unsophisticook.com

What I Fill Our Bento Boxes With (Besides Jack Link's Jerky)

As I mentioned, I like to fill my bento boxes with a well-balanced snack. Since my bento box has three compartments, it's perfect for my favorite protein, fruit and healthy fats combinations. Here's what this looks like in practice, along with some of our favorite combinations:

  • Protein -- usually a variety of Jack Link's jerky for lean, tasty protein that holds up in warm weather
  • Fruit -- I tend to focus on dried fruits, in moderation, since they won't leak to other compartments
  • Healthy Fats -- typically unsalted nuts or seeds, especially when I'm pairing them with jerky

Bento Box Snack Ideas -- bento boxes are perfect for keeping hungry kids fueled between school and sports! Shown here with @jacklinks Original Jerky, dried apples & roasted peanuts + 3 more combo ideas... | via @unsophisticook on unsophisticook.com

Original Jerky + Dried Apples + Roasted Peanuts

Jack Link's Original Jerky has a bold, savory, hard wood smoked with a hint of garlic flavor that my whole family loves. It's excellent with the milder flavors of dried apple rounds and unsalted roasted peanuts.

Bento Box Snack Ideas -- bento boxes are perfect for keeping hungry kids fueled between school and sports! Shown here with @jacklinks Peppered Jerky, tropical trail mix & roasted sunflower seeds + 3 more combo ideas... | via @unsophisticook on unsophisticook.com

Peppered Jerky + Tropical Trail Mix + Roasted Sunflower Seeds

Jack Link's Peppered Jerky has a spicy coarse pepper taste that my husband and older boys adore. The sweetness of the tropical fruit trail mix and mild unsalted roasted sunflower seeds temper that peppery heat perfectly.

Bento Box Snack Ideas -- bento boxes are perfect for keeping hungry kids fueled between school and sports! Shown here with @jacklinks Teriyaki Jerky, dried apricots & toasted coconut + 3 more combo ideas... | via @unsophisticook on unsophisticook.com

Teriyaki Jerky + Dried Apricots + Toasted Coconut

Jack Link's Teriyaki Jerky features the flavors of soy, ginger, and a little onion, and it's my personal favorite. I like to pair it with sweet dried apricots and toasted coconut flakes for a satisfying crunch that complements the Asian-inspired taste.

Bento Box Snack Ideas -- bento boxes are perfect for keeping hungry kids fueled between school and sports! Shown here with @jacklinks Turkey Jerky, dried cranberries & granola clusters + 3 more combo ideas... | via @unsophisticook on unsophisticook.com

Turkey Jerky + Dried Cranberries + Granola Clusters

Jack Link's Turkey Jerky is made from lean seasoned turkey breast that's been smoked over mesquite. My middle son is a turkey fanatic, so he's totally wild about this variety. Dried cranberries seem like a natural choice for fruit, and granola clusters add texture to the combination.

Bento Box Snack Ideas -- bento boxes are perfect for keeping hungry kids fueled between school and sports! Shown here with @jacklinks Turkey Jerky, dried cranberries & granola clusters + 3 more combo ideas... | via @unsophisticook on unsophisticook.com

I stock up on dried fruit, nuts and seeds from the bulk section at Kroger. They have an amazing selection of both conventional and organic products, as well as the biggest selection of unsalted nuts and seeds I've found locally -- all at a budget-friendly price! Because soccer can be an expensive sport, ya know?

Also, look for Jack Link's Jerky at the special promotional price of $3.99 per 2.85-oz. bag at Kroger through October 8th. If you're lucky, you might find several packages that have $1 off peelie coupons, as I did. After coupon, I paid just $2.99 each... SCORE!

So far the bento box snacks have been a lifesaver. I just grab the bento box and a few bottles of water on my way out the door, and we're set until dinnertime!

What are your family's favorite simple on the go snacks?

by Tara | 0 comments

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