After a busy day at school the first thing your kids need (after a hug!) is a little snack… and the last thing you want to do is fix another meal while you are getting dinner together! Here are ideas for healthy after school snacks kids (even the young ones) can make for themselves.
If your kids are old enough to be in school they are probably old enough to learn how to fix themselves a simple snack. The key word here being learn. If you set the guideline and expectations clearly, this can be super easy!
I don't encourage my clients to allow their children to snack a lot as it can be a contributing factor to lunch or dinner not being eaten well. However, kids in full time school really have a long day, especially when they are going through growth spurts or are in after school activities. A quick snack when they get home can mean the difference between a crabby kid and one that has enough energy to make it to dinner time happily.
Teaching children can be important to help avoid extra clean-up for parents, especially with younger ones. A few tips to begin:
- Pick your snacks. Sit down with your kids and let them decide on five snack ideas that sound great to them. My top 10 recommendations are below.
- Prep your snacks. Let them help you prep things on the weekend for snack time. For instance, older kids can help cut veggie sticks and younger ones can stir up the dressing. The container of veggie sticks and jar of dip can be ready to go and in a kid accessible spot in the fridge so they can help themselves.
- Label/guide the serving size they can take. Put a ½ cup measure or equivalent cup size in the container of trail mix; have ½ cup containers or bowls at their reach for yogurt. You could even make a simple, short list to keep on the fridge for them to follow.
- Practice. This may sound a little strange, but especially when it comes to younger children who are still learning how to follow step by step instructions correctly, this is important for them to understand the process and to prevent you from having to clean up a big mess in the kitchen.
- Don’t forget clean up. The last thing you need is more crumbs, silverware and bowls to put away and/or wash. Show them where you expect the empty containers to go and how they should be washed. Show them how to wipe the counter too.
10 snack ideas to get you started:
- Trail Mix. One scoop made of a quick mix of nuts, seeds, dried fruit and coconut flakes into an airtight container. Remember to place a ½ cup scoop or so in the the container for children to measure out their own too!
- Fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt cups. Keep some small 8oz jars on hand as they are perfect for fruit on the bottom yogurt. Place a few frozen fruit pieces into the bottom, whole yogurt over top, pop the lid on and let it thaw in the fridge to make the fruit on the bottom. Kids can make their own with fresh fruit from the fridge.
- Healthy Snack and Energy Bars. I like Larabars and I know there are others with whole food ingredients. Just keep them in a spot the kids can reach without your help. I prefer not to pay for store bought bars, so I make my own! I batch up snack bars that take no time to make like these energy bars. I do this once a month and store in the freezer.
- Ants on a Log. A classic - celery sticks with natural peanut butter (or sun, almond or other natural nut butter) and raisins up top for the ants! Keep non-sharp butter knives for spreading in a spot your kids can get to so they can spread their own.
- Hard cooked eggs and fruit. Hard cooked eggs keep for five days in their shell! It is easy to hard cook an entire dozen eggs, pop them back in the egg carton in their shell, and use them before the end of the week for quick breakfast, lunch or snacks. Show the kids how to peel them! You may be surprised that not only can they do it but they enjoy the process.
- Fruit and cheese. There are some really good non-sharp cheese cutters that just have a wire across that are safe (even for kindergarteners). You can teach them how much to cut and they can pick a piece of fruit to go with it!
- Veggie sticks and dip. Cut up a variety of vegetables using a kid-friendly knife, toss them into a bag or container with a lid and they can serve themselves at snack time. Make a jar of your favorite home-made dip and refrigerate in a container for the week. It works out great for salads and dipping. Try these ranch and 1000 island dip and dressing recipes.
- Fruit and nuts. Teach your kids how much to scoop out (a palm-full is enough) and grab a piece of fruit.
- Guacamole and whole grain chips or crackers. If you have a taco night every week, make a little extra guacamole to save for snack time! Show them how much to scoop out and how many chips (or crackers) they can have with it. I like this guacamole recipe.
- Cheese and crackers. Again, show them how to cut the cheese. My recommendation is staying away from pre-shredded or pre-sliced cheese – take a peek at the ingredients on those! Let your children know how many crackers they can have.
Snack time can be fun, easy and most of all empowering for your kids.
Back to school kitchen prep
How to deal with picky eaters (even if one of them is you)
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