8 Tips for Making Healthy After School Snacks Kids Will Love!
The kids are back in school and coming home with hungry tummies. Putting together healthy after school snacks can be difficult, especially when the kids are finicky eaters. Here are some tips and suggestions on how to create healthy after school snacks that kids will love.
How to Make Healthy After School Snacks Kids will Eat!
1. Keep it Simple
Many of your kids’ favorite foods will be the simple kid staples: peanut butter and jelly, crackers and cheese, veggies and dip. In our Pinterest-obsessed world, we can sometimes get too focused on trying to be creative and innovative, but the truth is, the same staples you loved as a kid will likely be what your kids will love, too! Don’t worry if it’s creative or edgy, as long as they eat it!
Some examples of simple after school snacks include:
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
- Cheese and crackers
- Veggies and dip
- Fruit and yogurt
- Hummus and pita
2. Try to Include a Protein
Their after school snack will likely need to keep them full until dinner time, so choose wisely. Protein will give your kids energy for the rest of the day (and any activities that they may have coming), and will also keep them full longer, and help to avoid the sugar crash that you may see with snacks that are higher in sugar or carbohydrates.
Some suggestions of easy proteins you can include in your kids’ snacks include:
- Hard boiled eggs
- Peanut butter
3. Sneak in Veggies or Fruit
Some kids love to eat their fruit and veggies, and will just eat them on their own. However, some kids require a little bit of finagling. An easy way to sneak some fruit or veggies into their diet is by giving them after school smoothies. You can include veggies such as spinach, however, they will be masked by the sweetness of the fruit. If your kids are a little older, you can also consider adding some protein powder to their smoothies in order to give them an extra boost. For younger kids, Greek yogurt can do the trick.
4. Keep Tabs on Their Lunch
The Canadian Food Guide recommends that kids aged 2-13 have the following each day:
- 4-6 servings of fruit and veggies
- 3-6 servings of grains
- 2-4 servings of milk and alternatives
- 1-2 servings of meat and alternatives
Depending on your child’s age, this number will vary slightly. You can find more information here. When you are making snacks for your child, try to keep in mind what they have already had to eat that day and how many servings from each food group they still need. The likely scenario is they will still need several fruit or veggie servings, and possibly something from another category. Keep in mind what dinner will be.
5. Preparation Will Save You Time
When the kids get home from school, they are sometimes so hungry that you just grab the easiest and fastest thing, instead of the healthiest or most nutritious option. Save yourself from doing this by planning ahead. On weekends or one night a week, take a few minutes to prepare some things for snacks: cut up veggies, put together zip lock baggies with nuts or cereal, portion out some yogurt, etc. Taking the time to do this ahead of time will save you the rush of trying to prepare things when they get home.
6. Treat Snacks Like a Meal
No, that does not mean larger portions. What it does mean is to treat any “treats” like you would dessert. So, for example, if their afternoon snack is a pudding cup and some cut up veggies, make sure that they start with the veggies and fill up on them before they get their “treat” of the pudding cup.
7. Consider Timing When Creating Snacks
Many kids have lunch quite early at school, so by the afternoon, they may be very hungry. This would mean that you may want to serve a larger snack. Also, depending on when dinner is served, it might be necessary to serve them a larger snack if dinner is late. If dinner is served early, their after school snack could be a “first course” of sorts, like a small salad, or something else healthy and small.
8. Work with Kids to Meal Plan
It may seem obvious, but when looking to create healthy snacks for your kids, the biggest expert is your kids! Teaching them about the food groups, and how to create snacks and meals is valuable knowledge for them, and also a fun activity to do as a family. Depending on how old your kids are, one way to do this could be to color code different food groups and create a list of options for each four groups. Then, instruct your children on how many of each group they will need to choose to create their snack and let them go!
You may also want to allow them to actually make the snack themselves (with your supervision). Allow them to spread the peanut butter on the bread or to get all the ingredients from the fridge, etc. This will give them a sense of ownership and also help you out!
When it comes to after school snacks, remember that healthy does not have to mean boring or lame. There are lots of healthy and delicious options that you can serve your kids, and if you follow the suggestions above, you are sure to see full tummies and smiling faces.
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