I love having a plan. As a mom, sometimes plans fall through. Okay… plans fall through a lot. But one thing that I’ve learned is that if I don’t have a plan for healthy after school snacks, my kids will munch on and fill up on foods that aren’t what I would consider to be in the “healthy category.” If they had the option, they’d choose cookies over carrots any day. Or eat ice cream every day after school. While, I don’t mind a good splurge now and again, I want to make sure that my kiddos are getting their vitamins and nutrients.
One way that I stay ahead of the game for snack time is to write it out. I’m almost embarrassed that I have to go to this extreme measure to make sure that my kids get a nutritious snack, but seriously…. this has drastically reduced my weekly stress. It makes grocery shopping a ton easier, and I can feel confident knowing that I’m at least trying to get a broad range of healthy food choices in front of them (and hopefully in their bellies) on a consistent basis.
So, what’s my plan? I have followed this schedule each and every week (for the last three weeks) and I’ll keep following it until they start to complain and say things like, “we’re having that again????”
Mondays- Cottage cheese with fruit. My girls love cheese. As in, they request to eat it all day long. Cottage cheese is a great source of calcium and it will give them a protein boost. Add some fruit on top and it’s transformed into an extra special treat. Our current favorite fruit toppings are peaches, strawberries, and mandarin oranges.
Tuesdays- Peanut butter dip with celery and apple slices. What kid doesn’t like to play with their food? That is what makes this snack perfect! Cut up any fruits and veggies that would go well with a scoop of peanut butter and let your child enjoy getting a little messy. (Pretzels are also yummy to dip!) Want some extra fun for your kiddos? Give them some mini chocolate chips, raisins, or granola to be “sprinkles” once they have the peanut butter on their fruits and veggies. And, if you are a peanut free house, choose a different nut butter (or yogurt) and enjoy!
Wednesdays- Hard boiled eggs with fruit. This one can be tricky at our house. Sometimes they eat the whole egg, sometimes they’ll eat just a part of it. But, I keep trying because I love the protein that eggs provide. Pair it up with some seasonal fruit and it’s a simple snack.
Thursdays- Avocado dip with veggie sticks and chips. Avocado is a favorite of my girls, but guacamole won’t get touched (thanks to the added spices), so I smash up some plain avocado and cut up some veggie sticks and let my girls have another chance to “play” with their food. The vegetables that I often use are carrots, bell peppers, and cucumber, but snap peas and celery would be great options as well. I add a couple of pita chips and my girls are happy campers!
Fridays- Homemade energy bites. There are many different versions of granola bars and energy bites across the web, but you could easily just make up your own. Grab some oats, peanut butter, honey, and any extras you’d like (flaxseed, dried fruit, mini candies, etc) and let your kids help you mix all the ingredients. Then either roll into balls or smash down for granola bars. After they chill for a bit, enjoy! My kids love to help in the kitchen and beam with pride when they get to eat something that they help made.
Our weekends are more unpredictable as we are doing fun things around town, projects around the house, or having playtime with family and friends. Planning snacks for the weekends just doesn’t make sense to me.
Once my girls start asking for more variety, I’ll swap in a few of the following and create a new rotation:
Popcorn. This is a cheap snack that requires very little preparation and you can dress it up with all sorts of yummy flavors if you choose. The popcorn flavors that are currently in my pantry include: dill pickle and smoky hills cheese powder. Both are delicious!
Trail Mix. What I love about making our own trail mix is that I can customize it based off of what’s on sale at the store, what is leftover in my pantry, and there are endless options! Grab a container and add in any number of ingredients, then give it a good shake. Some of our favorite add ins are pistachios, mini chocolate candies, raisins, pretzel sticks, mini marshmallows, dried apricots, and cashews.
Homemade fruit leather. I’ve made homemade fruit leather (aka fruit roll ups) once before and it was a hit with my oldest daughter. Unfortunately, I haven’t made it since. There are countless recipes on the internet and I’m looking forward to trying a few that don’t require added sugar.
Smoothies. Summer might be over, but a smoothie is a delicious pick-me-up any afternoon. My recipe is super simple: frozen fruit, a large spoonful of greek yogurt, a handful of spinach leaves, and enough orange juice or milk to blend it all smooth.
Muffins. Another favorite snack around our house is muffins. There are so many varieties, flavors, and even some super duper healthy recipes that make this a fool proof snack for most of my family. (My middle daughter doesn’t love muffins like the rest of us, but if I call it a cupcake, she’s all about eating a few bites!) Every time I make muffins I try to rotate between a few different recipes: banana, blueberry, raisin bran, zucchini, and apple cinnamon. And have you ever made mini muffins? They are too adorable to resist popping a few as an afternoon snack.
I love having an easy plan that keeps my kids healthy and their tummies happy!