Kids are literally chomping at the bit from the minute the walk in the door after school. Instead of them going for the processed and packaged treats, prepare your home for healthy snacking with these healthy after-school snack tips.
Hey there! I’m Holly, and I blog over at Happy Food Healthy Life. I am so excited to be a part of the Real Housemom’s team as a health and fitness contributor. After a decade-long battle with eating disorders, I have dedicated my life to not only helping myself, but helping others to get healthy and happy and to form healthy relationships with food.
Healthy eating and learning how to eat right is something we can teach our children from a very young age, and it’s important that we do so they don’t develop unhealthy habits over time. So today, as most of our kids are back to school now, I’m sharing with you the ways that I make sure my son has healthy snacks for after-school. If it wasn’t for these steps that I take in my house, he would be reaching for sugary foods that don’t give him energy or nutrition to get him through until dinner time.
So let’s get to it!
1. Make a Prep and Planning Day:
Every Friday or Saturday I come up with a list of the snacks I want to make and/or buy for the following week. I gather all the ingredients or make a list and head to the store to get them all. And then I get busy. Dedicate a couple of hours to baking and portioning out your snacks in small snack-sized baggies (that you can later rinse and re-use if you desire) or containers.
This is something your kids can help with too. Give them a measuring cup to fill the bags. Or have them open all the bags for you. Or if they’re old enough they can slice the fruit. There are plenty of options to get the kids involved no matter what their ages.
2. Create Snack Stations
Having specified snack stations in both the refrigerator and the pantry was a game-changer for my son. Instead of browsing the entire cabinet and seeing so many options and probably getting overwhelmed, he only had to look in the containers labelled “SNACKS.” He knows now that if he wants a snack, that’s where he goes.
For our household, there’s a general rule. You pick one baggie from the fridge container and one from the pantry container. That way, he’s getting a combination of fruits/veggies/cheese/yogurt and granola/trail mix/popcorn/etc. Seems to be a good balance for us. One that I can get on board with!
3. Give Your Kids Options
If you only have a couple of things in your snack stations, chances are, the kids are going to get bored after day one or two. I always have plenty of options to keep my son satisfied. Here are some of my favorites:
* homemade nut butters
* sliced apples (rinsed in lemon water before packaging)
* cut-up veggies (I buy a veggie tray every week and portion it out as soon as we get home)
* homemade veggie dip
* cheese sticks
* homemade muffins
* trail mix
* homemade protein bars
* homemade popcorn (on the stove or air-popped)
Just be sure to remember that anything homemade isn’t going to include the preservatives that store-bought baked goods include. So your muffins, breads, etc aren’t going to last more than a few days. Be sure to account for that and maybe plan to keep those items in the refrigerator to gain a couple more days of shelf life.
4. Don’t Buy the Junk
If you don’t buy junk food, the kids (and you) can’t eat it! It’s just that simple. I am not a fan of depriving myself of foods that I love, but as long as I’m making healthier options by baking my snacks at home, I never feel deprived. Nor do I feel like I’m depriving my child.
Always remind yourself that the food you make at home can be just as tasty, if not more, than the sugar-filled treats you buy from the store.
5. Let Your Kids Be Kids
This is an important one. So often, we want the kids to come home, eat healthy, do homework, do chores, help with dinner, and the list goes on. It’s easy to think that way when, as adults, we are trained to go-go-go until we just can’t any longer. But these are children. They’ve been learning all day. They’ve been trying to sit still all day long. They need to have the opportunity to chill out for a bit.
For my son, I let him come home, get a snack, and he gets a half an hour to forty-five minutes to just do whatever he wants. Watch tv, play video games, play legos, whatever it may be. Just be a kid for a little bit before the routine starts back up again.
I really hope these five tips help you and your family out with the back to school after-school snack routine. It’s not always easy to keep our kids healthy. It definitely takes a little more effort and some prep time. But I promise you that it’s totally worth it in the end.
I can’t wait to come back next month to share with you some more healthy living tips and info!