Snack is a portion of food often smaller than a regular meal, generally eaten between meals. Snacks come in a variety of forms including packaged and processed foods and items made from fresh ingredients at home.
Traditionally, snacks were prepared from ingredients commonly available in the home. Often leftovers, cold cuts sandwiches, nuts, fruit, and the like were used as snacks. Beverages, such as coffee, are not generally considered snacks though they may be consumed along with snack foods. A beverage may be considered a snack if it possesses a substantive food item (e.g., strawberries, bananas, kiwis) that has been blended to create a smoothie.
Plain snacks like plain cereals, pasta and vegetables are also mildly popular, and the word snack has often been used to refer to a larger meal involving cooked or leftover items. Six-meal eating is a form of eating that interjects healthy snacks in between small meals, to stave off hunger and promote weight loss.
With the spread of convenience stores, packaged snack foods are now a significant business. Snack foods are typically designed to be portable, quick and satisfying. Processed snack foods are designed to be less perishable, more durable, and more portable than prepared foods. They often contain substantial amounts of sweeteners, preservatives, and appealing ingredients such as chocolate, peanuts, and specially-designed flavours. A snack eaten shortly before going to bed or during the night may be called a midnight snack.