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Healthy snack and small meal ideas

Patient information A-Z


This diet sheet provides ideas for some healthy and nutritious snacks and small meals.

Savoury snacks

  • Two or three low-fat crackers with either low-fat soft cheese, low-fat cottage cheese (plain or with chives, pineapple) or low-fat paté.
  • Vegetable sticks (for example, celery, carrot, peppers, cherry tomatoes, cucumber) with low-fat dip such as hummus or low-fat soft cheese.
  • One small cup of plain popcorn or two handfuls of pretzels.
  • Toasted pitta bread with low-fat dip such as tomato salsa or hummus.
  • Half an English muffin or bagel or one slice of toast with low-fat spread and/or a scraping of yeast or meat extract.
  • One bag/portion of a low-fat savoury snack for example rice cakes/ crackers, corn crackers, baked crisps or popped crisps.
  • One small bowl of high-fibre cereal with skimmed/ semi-skimmed milk such as porridge, sultana bran, natural muesli or wheat biscuit.
  • Grilled tomatoes and one teaspoon of low-fat grated cheese on one slice of toast (for children under five years this is a small meal rather than snack).
  • One small sandwich (one slice of bread) or mini pitta bread with cottage cheese, chicken or tuna with salad and low-fat dressing/ mayonnaise (for children under five years this is a small meal rather than snack).
  • One mug of soup (avoid ‘cream of’ varieties).
  • Bread sticks with or without low-fat dips.
  • One small handful of nuts or seeds (whole nuts should be avoided for children under five due to the risk of choking).
  • Baked beans on a slice of wholemeal toast (for children under five years this is a small meal rather than snack).

Many savoury snacks can be high in salt and therefore may not be suitable if you are trying to reduce salt in your child’s diet. However, there are normally lower salt versions available; please see ‘reading labels’ information below as a guide to choosing suitable alternatives.

Sweet snacks

  • One portion (your child’s handful) of fresh fruit, a small bowl of fruit salad or a small tin of fruit in juice (avoid those in syrup).
  • Apple slices with 1 tsp of nut butter (no added sugar) or dipped in low-fat yoghurt.
  • One medium glass (approximately 150ml) of home-made fruit smoothie made with skimmed/ semi-skimmed milk or low-fat yoghurt and any fruits of your choice; for example strawberries, banana, passion fruit, mango.
  • Low-fat desserts, for example low-fat rice pudding or low-fat semolina or low-fat mousse.
  • One slice of raisin toast or bread with low-fat spread.
  • One small handful or sachet/ packet of dried fruit such as raisins, apple rings or apricots or yoghurt coated dried fruit.
  • One pot of low-fat custard with tinned fruit in natural juice.
  • One pot of low-fat yoghurt or low-fat fromage frais.
  • Two Garibaldi or Rich Tea biscuits, or one fruit or yoghurt slice biscuit or one fig roll.
  • One small flapjack or small muesli/ cereal bar.
  • One scoop of low-fat ice-cream or frozen yoghurt.
  • One 200ml glass of semi skimmed or skimmed milk or low-fat flavoured milk or low-fat hot drink such as low-fat hot chocolate.
  • One small scone (fruit or plain) or one wholemeal crumpet with a scraping of jam, honey or marmalade.
  • One slice of malt loaf with or without a scraping of spread.
  • One scotch pancake with a scraping of jam, honey or marmalade or spread.
  • One small portion or pot of sugar-free jelly.

Many sweet snacks can be high in sugar, so be careful that your child does not have these too often. However, there are normally low sugar versions available; please see ‘reading labels’ information below as a guide to choosing suitable alternatives.

Reading labels

Some food labels use red, amber and green colour coding on the front of the pack which makes it easier to choose foods that are lower in total fat, saturated fat, and sugar and salt. Choose more ’greens’ and ’ambers’ and fewer 'reds'.

You can also look at the nutrition information on the back of the pack to see the ‘per 100g’ amounts. Use the following guide to help make healthier choices:

Total fat

  • High: more than 17.5g of fat per 100g
  • Low: 3g of fat or less per 100g

Saturated fat

  • High: more than 5g of saturated fat per 100g
  • Low: 1.5g of saturated fat or less per 100g


  • High: more than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g
  • Low: 5g of total sugars or less per 100g

Salt and sodium

Salt is also called sodium chloride. Sometimes, food labels only give the figure for 'sodium'. But there's a simple way to work out how much salt you're eating from the sodium figure: salt = sodium x 2.5.

  • High: more than 1.5g salt per 100g (or 0.6g sodium)
  • Low: 0.3g salt or less per 100g (or 0.1g sodium)

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

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Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151