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Snacks can be an important part of a child (or an adult) meeting their nutritional needs. Many kids come home from school hungry or low on energy. School lunch may be at 10:30 AM and by 3:00 PM their growing bodies need to fuel up and fast after a long day.
What does “snack” mean to you?
Diet culture has co-opted the word snack for many people. For some, they may have a memory or experience of a diet rule that said “don’t eat between meals.” For others, the word “snack” may mean only “snack foods” like chips and crackers.
We like to think of a snack as a mini-meal. However, the truth is for some children, particularly adolescents, their afterschool snack may need to be a second lunch. Eating between meals is pretty essential for many children to meet their needs. However, if you’re like us, you may not know what to serve your child for a fueling snack or you may run out of ideas for what to serve your child after school.
Tips for Snack Time:
- Decide what is offered for younger children. Snacks can be an opportunity to offer a variety of foods. Some children may feel less pressure at snack time than at meal times to explore new foods.
- Offer at least one food that is rich in protein and one food that is rich in carbohydrates. This will help fuel you and your child for several hours.
- Trust that your child’s body knows how much it needs. Allow your child to decide how much they eat.
- Offer a snack with the child sitting down without the distractions of screens or homework, if possible.
- If your child has extracurricular activities offer their snack in the car on the way to or upon arrival to their activity, if possible.
- Consider timing. Ideally, snack time will be several hours after lunch and several hours before dinner time. We all do better with eating if we arrive at eating times hungry. However, you may need to be flexible on this!
- If you have older children, prompt them to have a snack. Encourage them to take the time to refuel before starting extracurricular activities or homework. If they are open, make suggestions for balanced snacks.
20 Easy Afterschool Snack Ideas:
- Hummus and pretzels and/or carrots. Experiment with different flavors of hummus or vegetables. Purple carrots are always a hit at my house.
- Cheese and crackers: Explore cheddar cheese, spreadable goat cheese, swiss cheese, or gouda. You may try different toppings like cherry or fig preserves, thinly sliced apples, or an herb mixture stirred into the goat cheese.
- Yogurt and/or fruit and/or granola. You may want to try drinkable yogurts, Greek yogurt, smooth yogurt, and fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt.
- Meat & cheese or peanut butter (or other nut or seed butter) sandwich.
- Spaghetti and meatballs
- Macaroni and cheese
- Taco meat or beans rolled up in a tortilla
- Grilled cheese or cheese toast or a quesadilla.
- Avocado toast (toast bread, smash some avocado on top, sprinkle with salt and/or lime juice) with or without an egg
- Sliced hardboiled egg or scrambled egg on toast
- Energy Bar (Look for >5 or so grams of protein) or energy balls
- Banana or apple slices with nut butter or soynut butter
- Smoothie – Include yogurt or nut/seed butter
- Cereal or oatmeal packets and milk
- Frozen chicken nuggets heated in the air fryer (I like Just Bare(TM) from Costco) with veggies and ranch dressing
- Celery with nut butter and raisins and/or chocolate chips
- Graham crackers with nut butter and chocolate chips
- Egg salad or chicken salad or pimento cheese and crackers
- Bean Salsa or bean salad and tortilla chips
- Muffin (blueberry/morning glory/banana nut) and a glass of milk
- Pinwheels – turkey or ham and cheese rolled up and then sliced into small circles
- Babybel cheese, pepperoni, crackers
What are your favorite afterschool snacks to serve?