After a long day of school, kids need some real fuel to fight off the hangry monster that often strikes before dinner. These easy, healthy after school snacks are kid-approved and totally doable for busy moms.
We have exactly ONE week until my kids go back to school. Have your kids started yet? How are you feeling about the end of summer?
Part of me is really relieved. We survived! We even enjoyed a lot of the time (but let’s be real… there were some doozies in there, too.)
School starting means NOT having to go to the grocery store with all three kids in tow.
It means my older two boys will have more space from each other, so maybe they won’t fight quite so much when they DO see each other in the afternoon (let a girl dream, okay?).
It means more time to focus on one kids at a time, and more time to work while the kids are away.
It means less laundry from days spent digging in the dirt, swimming with friends, and eating red popsicles.
Still, I will miss the freedom of summer. I have LOVED being less scheduled and having the time to take family outings to the zoo, the aviary, and to the mountains to go hiking. We’ve had some epic adventures as well as lots of lazy mornings playing with Legos, and afternoons spent digging in the dirt (since that’s still the only fun our backyard has to offer).
Ready or not, though, here school comes. My oldest is going into second grade, and my middle man is going to be starting kindergarten!
Starting a new school year is always an adjustment for everybody. Getting up and our the door early and being in a classroom all day takes its toll on kids.
They spend six hours at school following strict rules and routines. They deal with teachers’ expectations, social pressures, and taxing academic work. By the time they get home, kids are worn out. Sometimes this means that they kinda fall apart when they get home–an environment that they often consider to be a safe zone.
That’s why after school snack time is so important to me. That first half-hour after the kids come home from school is my opportunity to reconnect with my kids and help them decompress after a long day of school. I want to use this time to give my kids a boost of energy (and hopefully actual nutrition) as well as emotional support as they talk about school and friends and…whatever.
If you’re like me, you see the importance of this time and you want to make the most of it with your child, but you just don’t have the TIME to make elaborate snacks every day.
Good news…you don’t have to.
I mean, you’re going to make dinner in an hour or two anyway, right? Who wants to add a whole EXTRA pile of dishes just because of snack time…NO ONE! (If you’ve been around here for long, you know how much I loathe dishes.)
So what’s a deliberate mom to do?
Get smart about snack time.
How we do snack time
I try to make sure that all our snacks include some kind of protein as well as a fruit or vegetable (or BOTH!). I will combine things like a muffin and smoothie, or yogurt and fruit.
I usually offer one main snack item, and then I try to keep my handy dandy fruit & veggie tray (purchased at the dollar store) fully stocked and in the fridge at all times. That way, I can pull it out and set it on the table alongside our main snack, and the kids can much on healthy stuff to their heart’s (or stomach’s) content. I’m not perfect at keeping it stocked, but I’m still always amazed by how many fruits and veggies they happily consume when I pull out this tray.
Once we clean up snack time, I don’t offer any other food until dinner–except for the fruit & veggie tray, which is always fair game in our house. I figure if they ruin their dinner appetite because they were munching on carrots and cucumbers, it’s probably not the end of the world. Mostly, it just allows me to acknowledge their hunger without allowing them to fill up on carbs and sugar. If they’re not hungry enough to eat fruits and veggies, they can wait until dinner (when there will, admittedly be more fruits and veggies…I’m mean that way).
Our favorite after school snacks
I’ve divided our family’s fave snacks into categories, based on the effort it takes to make them.
LOW PREP: These snacks take less than five minutes to prepare, so you can pull them together while your child puts his backpack away and takes a quick potty break.
MAKE AHEAD: These take a little more prep, but they can be made in bulk ahead of time and you can store them for later use, so you get a lot of bang for your buck.
NO PREP: These snacks require zero advance planning. Just pull the stuff out and let the kids munch away.
LOW PREP After School Snacks
- Banana sushi
- Yogurt parfait
(*Note: to cut down on sugar, I mix flavored yogurt with plain yogurt with a 1:1 ratio)
- Apple “donuts”
- Banana wheels
- Pizza quesadilla
- Healthy Strawberry Cheesecake Milkshake
- PB&J roll ups
- Mini bagel pizza
(*Note: These also freeze well, so make them in bulk and keep them on hand for a super easy snack another day.)
- Caramel Cream Cheese Yogurt Dip with apples or pretzels
MAKE AHEAD After School Snacks
- Chocolate chip peanut butter granola bites
- White Chocolate Cranberry Granola Bites
- Chocolate almond date balls
- Homemade granola bars
- Cereal bars
- Healthy banana chocolate chip muffins
- Mini blueberry muffins
- Healthy “breakfast” cookies
- Yogurt covered frozen blueberries
- Apple chips
- Corn dog muffins
- Smoothie pops
(*Note: Whenever I make smoothies, I pour any leftovers into popsicle molds and freeze them for later. My kids think it’s great when they get to have a “treat” for snack time, and I laugh inside that their “treat” is full of spinach, blueberries, and chia. Win win!)
NO PREP After School Snacks
*Note: I didn’t link to recipes for most of these no-prep snack ideas because they’re so simple that you don’t even need a recipe Hooray for easy!
(*Note: My kids really like squeezable yogurt when it’s frozen)
- Trail mix
(*Note: you can buy your favorite kind, or make this simple trail mix)
- Dried fruit
(*Note: If you’re feeling fancy, whip up a quick batch of this kettle corn)
- Bagel & cream cheese
- Veggies & dip (ranch or hummus)
- Cheese & crackers
So tell me…are you ready for school??? What do you feed the masses after school?
Please, tell me in the comments below. I’m always looking for new ideas!
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