Some days, my kids are hangry wildebeests when they step off the bus. Other days they're jolly and just a little snacky. Sound familiar? Either way, I need to have food available that satisfies the hunger without ruining dinner.
When I was a little kid, after school meant cookies and milk or leftover rice with salt and butter. Then there was the phase when I regularly ate frozen microwaved burritos after school, but that's another story entirely. Sure, my kids get cookies from time to time but as a regular matter, I like having a solid, healthy plan for after school.
1. Be prepared. Prep extra fruit and veggies in advance and store in the fridge. I do this every week so that our meals come together more quickly, and by adding an extra few pieces of fruit and a couple of vegetables to that plan, I'm all set for after school. My kids have activities after school a couple days a week so prepped fruits and veggies really come in handy when there's not much time to get out the door.
Added bonus: get the kids involved and make it a family adventure. My almost 10 year old loves to peel and cut; she's becoming super handy in the kitchen.
2. If you build it, they will come. Set out the fruit or veggies in advance so that it's the first option for kids. When my kids are hungry, they'll eat whatever is out. Getting it on the plate is a must, making it look pretty is optional. I usually arrange a snack platter at night while I'm packing lunches so that it's immediately available for them after school.
Tip: Toothpicks and lollipop sticks have become my best friends - for after school snacking and lunch packing.
3. Choose door A or B. Sometimes produce just isn't enough. I get that. I like to provide a finite list of options - typically two or three - so that the kids don't make a giant mess rummaging through the kitchen. Here are my favorite go-tos, all of which are delicious with fruits and veggies:
- hummus with crackers
- cheese with crackers
- graham crackers with sunflower seed butter and fresh or dried fruit
- animal crackers with yogurt
What are your favorite after school snacks?