Many of our children are already back to school and the rest will be very soon.
Kids work hard all day to stay focused, learn new skills and stretch their imaginations.
When they return home, they need to re-fuel their engines!
Parents sometimes struggle not only with what can be prepared quickly and easily, so they can get to the afterschool activities or homework that they need to do, but also something nutritious.
Many of our children eat school lunch very early, some as early as 10:30 in the morning, and by the time they get home they are ravenous.
Some are just not completing their school lunch because it doesn’t appeal to them or they don’t have time to finish (maybe they were too busy socializing!).
Some kids may go directly to an afterschool program or activity that keeps them from getting a snack before they hit home.
Parents want to give their kids a good snack but don’t want to overdo it and spoil appetites for a healthy dinner or let the kids end up with excessive calories by the time they get to bed at night.
It is important for parents to be informed about the schedule of their kids eating during the school day.
- When do they eat lunch?
- Are there any snacks offered?
- Will there be a treat for an assembly or party of some kind with treats that could impact them eating a healthy lunch?
- Does your child skip lunch or complete their school lunch?
- How much of the brown bag lunch do they eat, give away or toss?
- Will their afterschool activity include a snack or time for one?
- What time is your family dinner scheduled?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you plan for the type and amount of snack to serve them.
Here are a few nutritious snack ideas you can serve:
- Cheese sticks or rounds
- Fresh fruit in whole or cut form
- Peanut butter or hummus spread on wheat crackers, pita chips or tortillas
- Dried fruit and nut mixes, granola bars
- Hard boiled eggs
- Half a sandwich
- Bowl of cold or hot cereal
- Yogurt, Greek yogurt
- Crackers and cheese
- Applesauce, pudding, fruit cups
- Graham crackers in fun shapes, goldfish crackers
- Pretzels in different shapes
- Brownies made with fruit puree
- Homemade fun snacks (see recipe and photos)
Let your kids get into the action, preparing some of these snacks they can munch as they are able.
If they go grocery shopping with you, let them select the type of fruit, crackers or other snacks. That will help them learn what is healthy and what isn’t as healthy and should be limited (not avoided).
Sometimes foods like cupcakes or chips can be given as a treat but not used as an everyday snack. We don’t want to avoid foods but be sure they are part of an overall healthy food pattern for our kids.
Encourage them to eat their snacks at the breakfast bar or kitchen table instead of in front of the TV or in their bedroom. Focusing on their food will help them appreciate it and the health it brings instead of mindlessly eating and perhaps overeating when these habits become ingrained.
We can’t control everything our kids eat away from home, but when they come back after a busy day of school and activities, we can be in charge of what goes on their plate to nourish their bodies and their minds!
Brownies Made With Applesauce Instead of Oil
- 1 cup Dry Cereal (variety of shapes of unsweetened cereal)
- 1 cup Nuts (peanuts, walnuts, almonds, cashews, bridge mix)
- 1/2 cup Seeds (pumpkin, sesame, chia)
- 1/2 cup Dried fruit (raisins, golden raisins, craisins, apricots, banana slices, prunes)
- 1/2 cup Chocolate candies (if desired)
- Gather ingredients and mix in large bowl.
- Portion into single serving plastic baggies.
- Makes 6-8 cup servings depending on ingredients such as if you add candy.
- Choose different cereals, nuts and fruits when you make this mix so that every time it is new and fun!
- You can get even more creative by adding goldfish crackers, graham cracker shapes and pretzels into the mix.
- Portion into 1/2 cup servings.