4 Quick Ideas to Help Your Child Stop Snacking!
Children have ferocious appetites caused by energy used thinking during school and playing hard during recess.
The best part is that as a parent, you have all the controlling power and techniques right at your finger tips. Helping your child choose healthy snacks and preparing sit-down meals are ways to get your children on track with good eating habits.
1. Have dinner ready when the children come home from school.
Obviously, not everyone has a job where they can stop working at 2:30 p.m. every day and make dinner for their children.
In most situations today, children are placed in after-school programs where they are given refreshments after school.
However, where my children go to school, there are at least 100 or more parents waiting outside of the school yard every single day at 3:30 p.m. to pick up their children. So to those parents that are home earlier in the day, if at all possible, prepare meals ahead of time.
When Johnny comes marching home, put on a pot of his favorite home-cooked beef stew, Chef-Boy-R-Dee, or mac & cheese meal. It doesn't have to be homemade. If your child likes canned beef-a-roni, that will be sufficient enough!
The point is to have a sufficient meal that is filling enough to count as dinner without the child divulging in endless snacks.
Why have it ready and waiting? Because it will eliminate the need for snacks after school and will hold your child over through the night.
2. Snack ideas for later in the evening.
If your child is still hungry after having an early dinner after school, there are a few ways to calm cravings and keep your child from overloading on Doritos, Cheese Puffs, or little green snack things that you don't recognize and aren't sure if they came from the pantry or under the sofa cushion.
- Make microwaveable or homemade popcorn. Children love popcorn. I think it's probably one of the biggest treats besides boxed candy or ring pops.
- Put leftover popcorn in baggies and keep in pantry or cabinet for school snacks or just because.
- Children love cereal. Cereal is another filling treat if it's not of a very sugary variety and helps keep little tummies satisfied into morning.
- Granola bars, peanut butter crackers, marshmallow crispy treats and honey pretzel sticks are all convenient snacks to keep on hand in case your young one gets the munchies well into after-dinner hours.
3. Plan ahead for the grocery store.
The last thing you want to do is get trapped in an aisle at the grocery store between someone who abandoned their cart in the middle of the aisle and someone cornering you in the aisle un-shelving sale macaroni by the case!
Moms, dads, and caretakers are busy.
Start with a list. Write down the meals that you would like to plan out for the week.
Then make a coordinating list of items you will need to make those meals as well as healthy snacks for your children to enjoy in between your stellar dinner creations!
- Keep a magnetized shopping list notepad on the refrigerator.
- Jot down any products you run out of during the week so you'll know to pick them up on the next shopping trip.
- Keep a white board on the refrigerator so that your children can list any snacks they would prefer in their lunches or for weekend afternoons. (This eliminates unnecessary interruptions to let you know what they want when you are in the middle of stuffing a roasting chicken or have your arm half way down the drain during a clogged sink incident.)
- Get in the habit of noting what condiments or ordinary food items you stock in your refrigerator or pantry on the shopping list when you run out, so you will never forget it at the store! Nothing is worse than forgetting the ketchup when you are planning hamburgers or hot dogs for dinner!
Once you are at the grocery store, try to keep your time efficient by memorizing the product placement in the store. It helps to not have to back track every time you forget the peanut butter in aisle 25 when you are already back to aisle 5 picking out boxed fruit snacks.
Plan ahead so that your time isn't wasted at the grocery store and can be spent doing more important things. Also, make sure that you select your children's snacks appropriately. Many teachers in school nowadays forbid guilty little pleasures in the classroom such as Little Debbie pastry snacks. So if your child's teacher confiscated Mikey's brownie bites, select some carrot sticks or apple slices to pack for snack. The oatmeal cream pies can wait for the lunch room when the child is not in the teacher's presence!
4. Plan easy cook meals or prepare them the night before.
If it's not possible to have a homemade meal on the dinner table after school each day, to simplify your schedule, try to make some dishes ahead of time that can be frozen for later in the week. Or, even prepare them the night before.
I've been known to start my day extra early on occasion when the children will have an afternoon filled with fun and I have no time during the day to cook.
Planning ahead of easy meals takes guesswork out of "what's for dinner?"
Here are a few tips on planning quick meals for after school hunger control:
Easy tossed salad with chicken
Start with boneless/skinless chicken breasts.
Roll chicken breasts in bread crumbs.
Place on cookie sheet and bake 30 minutes at 400 degrees.
Slice and layer over salad greens.
Children can dip the chicken slices in barbecue sauce or ranch dressing if they don't like eating it over lettuce.
Child-friendly Taco Bar
Brown ground beef or turkey, add taco seasoning.
Heat taco shells.
Set up bowls of chopped lettuce, tomatoes, and shredded cheese.
Children can assemble their own tacos.
Serve with rice and beans for a filling experience.
Easy Chicken Pot Pie
Have ready two frozen pie crusts, cream of chicken soup, frozen mixed vegetables, pre-cooked chicken breast.
Place one pie crust in a pie dish.
In a separate bowl, mix cream soup, frozen vegetables, and pre-cooked chicken.
Add mixed ingredients to pie dish.
Place second pie crust over top.
Bake until browned (about an hour) at 350 degrees.
Chicken Pot Pie
What do you do to curb snack attack at your home?
Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man how to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.
Opting out of homemade and stopping at a drive-thru, Subway, or pizza palace are all fine alternatives!
When asking my own children, "what do you like about homemade meals", they responded..."when have you ever made a homemade meal?"
This was particularly amusing to me because I cook every day! They just don't see me because they are at school when I make dinner. Also, on weekends, most of the time they are at play dates or out doing something other than sitting at home so they don't often watch what I'm doing in the kitchen.
So then I asked them, "do you like coming home to a homemade meal from school?". They responded, "sometimes". What do they mean sometimes?
My son said he likes take-out. My daughter said if she had a preference she would choose "shrimp with cocktail sauce and burgers".
Anyway, have fun with all of your creative concoctions whether it be hoagies from your favorite sub shop or a homemade batch of chicken noodle soup.
Some families prefer to have meal time together at the dinner table which is perfectly understandable. With the fast pace of today's world, it's not that I don't want to have dinner with my entire family, which I often do, but the children don't necessarily want to sit at the table with the adults when they have homework to catch up on after school. A suggestion for families that wait to eat together is you could also prepare homemade snack trays such as cheese and crackers, fresh fruit, vegetables and dip, homemade popcorn, or lettuce wraps ready to hold over hearty appetites. While the children are doing homework on a full stomach, my husband and I catch up on the day's events over a homemade meal that we can both enjoy with each other's company.
Any opportunity for children to eat a meal rather than a bag of chips is an attempt to create healthy eating habits.