How to Make Easy and Healthy After School Snacks for Kids
After School Snacks
When children get home from school, one of the first things that they say is, "I'm hungry!" So what do you have on hand to feed those hungry little brainiacs when they get home? I'm one of those mean moms that doesn't give my kids sugar filled snacks to eat so here are some ideas to make those after school snacks easy, healthy and delicious.
Healthy Snack Preparation
I don't know about you but I don't have a lot of time to dish out snacks after school. Between the homework, dinner preparation and carting kids to different activities, I want this to be a seamless event each day. There are several things that you can do to make this easy on yourself.
- Prepare snacks on the weekend. Make things easy on yourself and cut up any snack items before you start your busy work and school week. Place them in airtight containers
- Snack Shelf. Create a snack shelf for your children. You can have one in the fridge and one in the pantry where your children can reach it. I keep a bowl with 'pre-approved' snacks in it in the pantry. My kids know that they are allowed to go in there and help themselves to something if they are hungry. It creates independence and helps free me up to get other things done. You can do the same thing in the fridge by cleaning out a lower shelf or drawer that your child can reach.
- Pre-packaged items. Go ahead and buy those pre-packed snacks, just read the labels. Be sure that they are healthy choices that are both low in fat and sugar content.
Nutritious Snack Ideas
It may seem easier to grab a bag of potato chips or some cookies to fill those hungry bellies. However, there are so many wonderful things out there that you can use for quick but healthy snacks.
- Raw vegetables. Kids love the crunch of raw vegetables. Pre-bag some carrots, cucumbers, celery or any other veggies that your kids like. To make it a little more interesting, put out a little dish of hummus or ranch dressing for them to dip it in.
- Ants on a log. This is a classic. Just take some celery cleaned and cut into pieces and spread peanut butter or cream cheese onto it. Add some raisins, dried cranberries, or other dried fruit to the top. Kids love this snack!
- Fresh fruit. Cut up what ever fruit is in season at the time and leave it in a covered bowl in the fridge. Keep it within easy reach for the kids and they can help themselves when the get home. If you are looking for a way to spice up eating fruit, try adding a side of peanut butter to dip apple or banana slices in. Or keep a bowl of fruit on the counter with things like oranges, apples or peaches in it.
- Sandwich roll-ups. Simply take a whole grain tortilla or wrap and spread your child's favorite sandwich items on it. You can use cheese and lunchmeat or peanut butter and jelly. Roll up the tortilla and slice it into one inch pieces. Place them in a zip lock sandwich bag with 2-3 in each one. Leave these in the fridge for easy access after school.
- Trail Mix. In a bag mix up raisins, dried cranberries, a variety of nuts, some pretzels, different cereals, even a little popcorn and toss it all together. Think about what your children like to eat and mix it all up in a large bag. Then in smaller snack size baggies, pre-portion the trail mix out for your child. Keep it on that kid level shelf for them to get on their own after school.
- Cheese and crackers. Slice or cube up some cheese ahead of time and put them in baggies for easy access. Keep some crackers on a shelf in the pantry and it is the perfect match for a healthy after school snack.
- Pre-packaged snacks. Pre-packaged snacks are great too. I am definitely in favor of them. My only concern with them is that you need to check the labels carefully. Not all prepacked snacks are single portion sizes so make sure that your child is only eating one portion. Also, keep a close eye on the sugar and fat content. Some of my kids' favorites are Stoneyfield Farms Organic yogurt tubes, Target brand organic fruit strips, and veggie straws.
Common After School Snack Mistakes
- Sugary snacks. Sugary snacks do not promote healthy living for children. They create thirst and develop a dependence on sugar.
- Large portion sizes. One of the biggest mistakes that people make in general, especially in America, is to consume large portions of food. If we teach our children at a young age that eating small portions of food is what is best for our bodies, we are teaching them life skills at an early age.
- Snacks high in fat. You want to make sure that your snacks are promoting healthy eating. Choosing snacks that are high in fat are counterproductive to a healthy lifestyle.
- Filling your child up. Remember, this is just a snack. Most likely dinner is just a couple of hours away and you don't want your child to be too full to eat dinner.
Going back to school doesn't have to be stressful. With a little bit of preparation in the beginning, it can be a smooth transition.