Muesli bars have long been a lunchbox favourite and convenient snack. With so many available at the supermarket, it can be difficult to know which one offers the best nutritional value for your child.
In this article, we break down what to look for when choosing a muesli bar for your child so that you can feel confident you’re buying one of the better options!
We always recommend running your eye down the ingredients list. The ingredients list is written in descending order, which means the first ingredient is what the product contains most of. Ideally, the first ingredient of a muesli bar will be a whole grain of some description. Whole grains, as their name implies, are less processed and more nutrient rich than refined grains, providing your child with longer-lasting energy.
If a muesli bar is high in sugars (>15g per 100g), it’s time to put your detective skills to the test and investigate where these are coming from. Some sugars are naturally occurring (i.e. they come from fruit), which you don’t need to worry about too much. We’re more concerned about added sugars, which aren’t good for much other than a surge of short-lived energy. If sugar, or another name for sugar, is listed in the first 3 ingredients, it’s worth looking for a healthier alternative.
Tip: Aim to choose a muesli bar with less than 15g of sugar per 100g.
It’s recommended to choose foods with less than 10g of fat per 100g, however you will find that many muesli bars exceed this guideline because they contain nuts and seeds. The fat coming from nuts and seeds is the healthy kind and an essential component of a balanced diet (keep in mind if you are packing muesli bars in lunchboxes for daycare or school then nuts may not be appropriate depending on the food policy).
Be mindful of unhealthy, saturated fats in muesli bars, such as coconut oil, as we want to be limiting these. You can check whether a bar is high in saturated fats by looking at the nutrition information panel.
Tip: Aim for less than 3g of saturated fat per 100g.
Another nutrient to keep on your radar is fibre. A muesli bar high in fibre will keep your child feeling full so they can focus on playing and learning. It will also feed their friendly gut bugs, help to keep their digestive system healthy and prevent constipation. A diet rich in fibre can reduce your child’s risk of developing diseases such as heart disease, bowel cancer and diabetes.
Tip: Aim to choose a muesli bar with at least 3g of fibre per serving.
Muesli Bar Recommendations
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and aren’t sure which muesli bar is right for your child, here are some of our favourites.
Just because a product is marketed as a ‘muesli bar’ doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a healthy snack. Be aware that some muesli bars are discretionary foods in disguise and can be high in saturated fat and added sugars. Pop on your detective hat and save this guide on your phone for next time you’re at the supermarket:
- Looking for some healthy recipes when it comes to the school lunchbox. Check out our School Lunchbox eBook.