WASHINGTON (NBC News) – Food manufacturers have made it easy to feed children on the go with convenient packaging of kid favorites at the right price.
But nutrition can get lost in convenience.
Finding healthy and affordable foods that kids actually like can be a battle for many parents.
“There’s a stigma that eating healthy can cost more money but i think knowing which products to purchase that are more cost effective.. You can actually save a tremendous amount of money and make healthier choices at the same time,” said registered dietitian Wendy Palmer.
Dietitians at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta compared five popular kid snacks with healthier alternatives and netted out the price difference over a year.
“It’s over $2,000 in cost savings that a family can achieve,” said Palmer.
One common go-to snack is the granola bar. They cost at least two dollars a box and experts say if they have chocolate drizzled on them or coating on the bottom they’re essentially candy.
“Nutritionally it’s very similar to a candy bar. A better choice there for a snack would be an applesauce cup and a cheese stick,” according to Palmer.
But be sure to check the label of the ultra-convenient pouches of applesauce.
“To get it in that pouch to get it in a form that you can squeeze out they add juice to it or sugar to it,” Palmer said.
Many parents overlook the four dollar price tag of fruit smoothies for the apparent health benefits but those also can be packed with added sugar.
And experts say many of those chewy fruit snacks are deceiving most are just food coloring and sugar.
Other healthy and cheap switches carrots and peanut butter instead of salty chips and water instead of soda.
And kids love juice! Dietitians say having one juice box a day is fine as long as it is one hundred percent juice and parents make sure they are not also drinking it at school or during after-school activities.