As three o’clock in the afternoon rolls around, you know your kids are going to be home within the next half hour, demanding after school snacks, which we all know is easier said than done. First of all, you certainly don’t want your kids to stuff themselves on whatever they find in the refrigerator or pantry, only to be too full for dinner. Second, you already have a full list of things to do during the day and rarely have the time to prepare something special.
Lack of time could, of course, be easily fixed with boxed and processed snacks from the grocery store. However, those foods are often expensive, and packed with fats, sugars, and other substances you don’t want to feed your child every single day.
This is where snack planning comes in. There are plenty of relatively healthy snacks that you can make quickly, or that you can make ahead of time and store, so that they are ready to pull out at a moment’s notice when your day goes by more quickly than expected.
Start out by making a list of snacks that you can tape to the inside of your pantry door. That way, when snack time sneaks up, you have some creative ideas to pull out of your hat. Try to add a variety of snacks to the list that will broaden your child’s diet.
Consider these snack ideas to help you come up with your own. Maybe your creativity will help even your pickiest eaters sample new things.
The best after school snacks
If you have a little time, any of these snacks would be great for your children as soon as they get back from a long day of playing and learning.
Sandwiches—Switch up the usual PB&J by filling the slices of bread with various delicious fillings. For example, try nutella and bananas or honey. Make snack time fun for your kids by putting out several filling options for their sandwiches and letting them choose their own.
Fruit, Vegetable, and Cheese Trays—Cut up broccoli, carrots, celery, apples, bananas, strawberries, melons, grapes, and different kinds of cheeses. This option may not be ideal for picky eaters, so make it a little more interesting. Add dipping sauces, such as ranch dressing or yogurt to go with the food. Make ants on a log, filling celery sticks with peanut butter and topping them with raisins. Or, let the kids make their own fruit, veggie, and cheese kebabs.
Any of these snacks can be made ahead of time when you have a few hours to spare. Put them in freezer-safe containers and freeze them. Just don’t forget to pull them out to thaw an hour or so before the kids get home!
Muffins—A great way to sneak fruits or vegetables (bananas, apples, zucchini, carrots) into your children’s diets is to bake them into delicious muffins. Look for recipes low in sugar. Keep them in your freezer for up to 3 months. Try these easy banana muffins.
Microwave Burritos—Fill soft tortillas with your favorite burrito fillings. You can also sneak in some finely chopped vegetables such as bell peppers and onions. If you cut them small enough, your picky eaters won’t even know the vegetables are there. Freeze 3-5 months, depending on the ingredients.
Frozen Yogurt Popsicles—For a healthier, yet delicious snack, purchase some popsicle molds and fill them with various flavors of yogurt. Perfect for the warmer school days!
Homemade Uncrustables—Kids love these, and they are great for when you don’t have the time to put together some sandwiches for your kids. Simply make a PB&J sandwich, then use the peanut butter lid to remove the crust while simultaneously sealing the sandwich. These can be kept in the freezer up to 3 months.
Pre-made Snacks to Store
As suggested here, one of the great ways to be ready for the snack attack is to fill your pantry and refrigerator with snack-size containers for a quick treat the kids can help themselves to.
Homemade Trail Mix—Instead of purchasing expensive packages of trail mix with contents your kids may not like, buy nuts and other ingredients your kids love and mix them together. You can get peanuts, raisins, pretzels, chocolate chips, and even throw in a few marshmallows. Your kids will love it.
Fruit Leather and Dehydrated Fruit—You don’t necessarily need a dehydrator to make these kid-friendly snacks, though it’s certainly handy. Cut up fruit or whip up some fruit leather and dry them in your oven at 150 degrees for 5-6 hours. It’s healthier and cheaper than store-bought fruit roll-ups, and your kids will love them!
Yogurt—Yogurt is a great snack for kids to pair with fruit, or eat by itself. Either way, purchasing bulk individual yogurts can be very pricey. Instead, buy the yogurt in large containers and spoon them into snack-size tupperware for your kids to grab out of the refrigerator.
These suggestions are merely that, as only you know what your children will actually eat. Use these ideas combined with your own to plan the perfect after-school snacks your kids will love.
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