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Snacks on the Slopes

Alex Fenlon 20160319-ACF 6575 4c

Kid-friendly bites are key to parents’ mountainside sanity

Any parent knows the trick to having a successful day with kids on the slopes means so much more than simply enjoying good snow conditions. It also means choosing the right gear and clothing so the children stay warm throughout the day. It means stashing sufficient tissues in pockets to avert the ever-present, cold-weather sniffles. It means keeping the entire family hydrated. And it most certainly means organizing a solid stockpile of snacks to keep the “hangries” at bay.

Well “duh,” you may say. But unless you’ve actually skied with kids, you can’t appreciate how frustrating it is to bundle up a miniature, mulish human being for a day on the slopes, only to be thwarted by their cries for hunger after a couple of ski runs. 

And it can’t just be any snack; it has to withstand the rigors of being shoved into a backpack or coat pocket throughout the day in freezing climes. In other words, slopeside snacks can’t be easily smooshed to oblivion—surely making it inedible to our tiny tyrants—or frozen by sub-zero temperatures, literally rendering it inedible. 

So what DOESN’T work? Sandwiches get a thumbs down in my family because they often turn into mush halfway through the day, particularly peanut butter and jelly (my personal favorite). Same goes for chips and crackers. Also avoid super-chewy protein bars that can transform into ice cubes in cold-weather scenarios. Oh, and don’t forget to bring a variety of options, since there’s no guarantee the child will continue to like the same food he devoured only the day before.

My go-to ski snacks include string cheese, granola bars and soft protein bars—think Luna Bar and Clif Bar brands—and energy chews like my boys’ favorite, Honey Stinger Energy Chews (especially grapefruit). Other family favorites, according to a random social-media survey of local skiing and snowboarding moms, include beef or turkey jerky; trail mix, for kids who will or can eat nuts; and squeezable fruit pouches. 

Dave Camara Kid Snacks Arapahoe Basin

Here are some of the more unique responses from my (very unscientific) survey:

Katy Ferrero, Colorado

“We baggy up leftover Halloween candy and dole it out through the ski season. They kind of freeze, but that’s what makes them so good. Also chocolate-covered pretzels, applesauce pouches, crunchy granola bars and clementines. All small enough to fit inside pockets or in (my husband’s) backpack.”

Tracy Grooms, Nebraska

“Protein balls, made with peanut butter, oats, protein powder, chocolate chips and other goodies. They are great cold so they would keep well on the slopes.”

Erika Brandstatter, Colorado

“Quaker maple brown sugar instant-oatmeal packets. No water needed: Just rip the corner and pour in your mouth. Bottom is the best—where all the sugar settles.”

Sarah Welle, Colorado

“Bubba’s Fine Foods snack mix, banana chips and nuts but flavored exactly like Chex mix; Wilde bars, beef- and turkey-jerky type bars); and Soul Sprout bars, nuts and dried fruit, like healthy granola bars.”
Too tired to give ski snacks much thought? Then leave it to it to the snack-subscription professionals like Graze, a snack-box guru sending monthly installments of unique servings of dried fruit, protein bars and nut combinations. Or opt for Trailfoody, offering snacks for adventurers, from “The Wanderer,” perfect for one person who hits the trails once or twice per month to “The Family Pack,” enough for one family adventure per month. Customers also receive a reusable snack bag to stash their supply, ranging from protein bars to popcorn, trail mixes and protein sticks.