We’ve all been there. The kids hop in the car, drop their bags and say, “I’m hungry!”
What happened to “I’m so happy to see you Mom”?!? But the reality is, filling after-school snacks can give kids the energy they need to take on the rest of their day until dinner. They need something that will keep them satisfied for hours. Having a plan for easy and healthy snacks for kids can make a huge difference.
A Busy Parent’s Guide to Healthy Snacks for Kids
Many children also need to fuel up for after school activities like sports, dance, and playtime fun. Here are some great tips for creating wholesome snacks for each day of the week to take the guesswork out of snack time and encourage the kids to help themselves with these tips and tricks. If you already need snacks in the car in the pickup line, we’ve got great options for you!
Reward Healthy Choices
When your kids select a mom-approved snack, give them a point, sticker, or whatever works for your kids. If I’m not home, my kids will even send me a pic when they are eating a healthy snack. They want their points! Once they each get to 20 points, they get to choose an activity like going to a movie or visiting their favorite ice cream shop.
From toddlers to teens, pre-packaging small meals really comes in handy. Here are some easy ideas:
- Peanut Butter & Jelly on Whole Wheat bread with a side of grapes
- Tortilla chips with fresh fruit “salsa”
- Bagel with cream cheese with tangerine slices
- Tuna and crackers with carrot sticks
- Toast with Almond butter and banana slices
- Celery sticks and peanut butter with cottage cheese
- Pita chips, hummus and bell pepper strips
- Pretzels, cottage cheese, and apple sauce
- Smoothies or Smoothie Bowls (pre-package the ingredients so they are ready to blend)
- Don’t forget to package leftover dinner into mini-meals too!
Each of these items are easy to teach most older kids to prepare on their own. Keep ingredients together and create a menu each week on the fridge. Some mini-meals are easy to prep in advance as well. This is super helpful when the kids need to grab a snack and hop in the car to an after school activity.
Don’t Forget Pre-made Healthy Snacks for Kids, too!
While some of the options above can be pre-made, those with bread do better when they are made fresh. Here are some other fun options that you can make in advance. Some are easy to reheat or eat cold.
- Apple slices with nut butter
- Stuff cherry tomatoes with tuna or chicken salad
- Homemade guacamole
- Cooked pasta or ravioli (easy to reheat)
- Berry-Veggie salad – mix things like corn, strawberries, grapes, and tomatoes in a berry vinaigrette
- My kids love these homemade Turkey burgers. They are easy to reheat and pop on a bun.
Let the Kids Choose their Healthy Snacks (within limits, of course)
My teens would easily grab a box of cookies or a bag of chips of I’d let them. Instead, I create a list of what items are “approved” for after school snacks. The list changes depending on what I purchase at the market and what fruits are in season. Place the items you want them to choose in the front and at eye level depending on their age/height. Here is an example of our choices:
Category #1 Healthy Choice
- Fresh fruit
- Cottage cheese
- Hard-boiled egg
- Fresh berries
- Cheese stick
Category #2 Pantry Choice – Go organic if possible
- Graham crackers
- Snack bar
- Dry cereal
Get the Kids Involved
Even at an early age, I began to teach my kids about healthy food choices. Every Sunday, we get together to create our after school snack menu and pre-package meals to grab and go. It’s a great life skill that hopefully they will pass on to their children. Healthy snacks are the best snacks!
Keep the Car Clean
Inevitably, we all have snacks in the car from time to time. So, how do we keep the car from looking like a trash can? Keep small trash bags in the car for clean up time and a roll of paper towel in the backseat.
To stay clean, you can also use containers rather than bags when shuttling kids to activities while they eat. They are easier to close and store without spilling. I keep a picnic basket between their seats so they can snack and put the containers back. I sometimes have activity books in there to keep them entertained (and unplugged) as well. Choose reusable water bottles instead of juice boxes or other sticky liquids.
Making healthier snack choices will not only be more nutritious for the kids but give them good energy and brain power, too. With healthy snacks, your kids are set to take on the year ahead!