When you're in the middle of the school year and managing a family, each minute of time becomes very precious. Sometimes that means healthy food choices in the household can take a backseat. Prepping delicious and nutritious choices for the kids to munch on doesn't need to take all day and these tips ensure that good-for-you snacks are always easy to access.
Remember to keep it fun, simple and interactive! Here are our tips for simplifying after-school snacks once and for all.
1. Prep most snacks on Sunday
This simple trick makes the rest of the week a breeze. Tupperware is your friend here, you can even write different days of the week on each container to give the kids a little surprise every day. I really like storage with compartments for snack prep. Personally, I slice apples, carrots or cucumbers to pair with almond butter and hummus—all great snacks for when you're out all day and need some fresh variety.
2. When in doubt, go for fruit
Fruit is always a quick and easy option. I suggest blueberries, clementine oranges, apples, frozen grapes or even unsweetened apple sauce and dried fruit, like Traina Mixed Fruit. It's fun to put together a fruit salad, too. Simply cut up all the fruit options and let the kids decide how they'd like to compile. Prepped fruit is also great to have on hand for smoothies, especially when it's been sitting in the fridge for a few days—throw it in the blender with some nut milk and voila.
3. Pair snacks with hummus
Hummus is a great dip to keep on hand with lots of versatility. Easy and healthy dippers include pre-sliced veggies, baby carrots and even multigrain tortilla chips. An after-school kids-crudité is a fun way to make a snack together. Plain hummus is a great way to introduce seasonings and spices too—shake a little turmeric, add fresh basil and you'd be surprised what your kids will take to.
4. Have high-protein options readily available
Snacks with high protein, like cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, hard boiled eggs and jerky will fuel kids for hours. One of my favorites is Old Wisconsin Turkey Stick which is a fun addition to the Hummus platter, just slice into bite sized pieces. I love cottage cheese because it can go savory or sweet, use as a dip with your prepped veggies, or drizzle pure maple syrup and sprinkle with berries.
5. Always keep the pantry stocked
Monthly deliveries keeps the pantry updated without a trip to grocery store. Many kids are big fans of popcorn, granola and pretzels. We like to DIY our own snack packs with a little popcorn, pretzels, nuts and whatever else is in the pantry so there's always . something different!
6. Make cracker tartinesI love the idea of replicating popular restaurant dishes for kids. Here are some of my favorite snack-sized tartines using any crisp bread, or favorite flat cracker of your choice as the base, there are no rules and kids love adding toppings and finding new combinations they love.
- Avocado Cracker: Use your preferred cracker and then layer with thinly sliced avocado, a dollop of fresh ricotta cheese and I love to top with roasted pepitas or sunflower seeds.
- Taco: The base for this is a black bean spread—just drain a can of black beans, rinse and place into a wide bowl. With a fork or potato masher, lightly smoosh the beans until chunky. Spread onto your cracker and top with tomato, cheddar cheese and black olives. Try out a dollop of super mild salsa or some lime zest to introduce some new flavor profiles.
- A Play on PB&J: Smear peanut butter, almond or a favorite sun butter on the cracker. I like to get a mix it up a bit and put fresh fruit (strawberries, blueberries, tiny diced apples) and a little bit of dried fruit sprinkled on top.
7. Pre-make smoothie pops
The easy part about meal prep is the prep itself, but knowing exactly how much to make ahead is tricky. Freeze a smoothie in popsicle molds to have a healthy treat ready-to-go snack. They're super simple to make: Add any fruit (I like apples, berries, pineapple, mango) and veggies (carrots, steamed beet, wilted kale) that may be on their way out to a blender with your favorite nut milk until you have consistency just a bit thinner than a smoothie. Pour into your trusty reusable popsicle molds and then into the freezer to make an ice pop so good they could even eat them for breakfast.