When it comes to meal planning, after school snacks are an often-overlooked part of the plan. But when you prepare ahead of time, you’ll be set for success. Just keep these tips in mind to get you started.
- Involve the kids. Including kids in snack decisions helps them not only feel more involved in the choices, but it often means they are more likely to eat what is available. We like to sit down together and go through magazines or cookbooks for ideas. I also like to share ideas I’ve found online or pinned to Pinterest, and let my kids create their own idea boards so it’s easy to refer to when it comes time to shop. This Ants & Friends on a Log is sure to be a hit with all ages!
- Set up a snack station in the refrigerator and pantry. A drawer, bin or shelf that is set aside with parent-approved snack options makes it easy for kids to help themselves to an after school snack. Fill the station with healthy options like fruits, cut-up vegetables or nuts. Kids can simply grab-and-go. These No-Bake Granola Bites are easy to whip up and have on hand anytime.
- Don’t forget to hydrate! At the start of the week, you can fill up reusable bottles with water, milk or no-sugar-added 100% fruit juice. When the kids come home from school thirsty, drinks will be cold and ready for enjoying. Try this Very Berry Peach Lemonade for a refreshing treat!
- Stock Up and Cut Up. Stocking up on fresh fruits and vegetables will make it easier when trying to make a healthy choice after school. Take it one step further and peel, cut or chop veggies (and some fruits) all at once, like these Sweet & Savory Poppers. Store in the refrigerator in food storage containers for the whole week. Plus, you’ll even have a head start on adding them to salads for dinner!
- Prep snacks ahead of time for the freezer too. Next time you make muffins, like these Apple Pumpkin Muffins, consider making a double batch and store some in the freezer. Warmed up easily in the microwave, they make a great snack. Another idea is to combine chopped fruit and yogurt in a bag for a smoothie kit. Just dump the contents in a blender, add milk or juice of choice, and blend for a delicious and nutritious snack idea. Try this Fruity Pumpkin Smoothie for a sweet treat after school.
- Don’t forget to add snacks to the meal plan. When most people make a meal plan, they primarily focus on what’s for dinner. By adding snacks to the meal plan—and having it written out to post on the refrigerator or another reminder spot–everyone will know more easily what’s available and that helps ensure healthy choices are being made.
With just a little thinking ahead, after school snacks can provide a tasty option that extinguishes after school hunger and helps feed children’s brains so they can tackle homework, extra-curricular activity or to be ready for the next school day.