If you are a parent who has school age children, you have most likely noticed your children making a quick detour to the kitchen for an after school snack. If this is the case, you want to make sure your child has healthy snacks that will satisfy their hunger but not ruin dinner for them.
Healthy after school snack ideas
It’s not surprising that most children are hungry when they come in from school. School lunch times are often earlier than noon and by the time they complete their afternoon at school, they will have already digested their lunch and will be ready for something else to eat.
Here are some basic tips and after school snack ideas that will help satisfy your child’s hunger but will also leave room for a nutritious dinner.
First of all, you need to consider what type of eating schedule your child is on. Younger children may have a mid-morning snack, but the older school age kids generally do not. Find out the meal schedule your child follows on a daily basis and this will help you determine how hungry your child is when they come home from school.
Secondly, do not offer food or drinks that contain a lot of sugar. Offer water or skim milk as an alternative and if dinnertime is soon, water is most likely best because milk can be very filling. Knowing your child’s mealtime routines will help you determine what snacks are best for them.
Giving your child some choices
Talk to your child about what types of snacks they would prefer after school. It’s all about choices and if your child knows they have the option to make choices, you will most likely see your child realizes there are alternatives to chips, sodas and other low-nutrient snack foods. You don’t necessarily have to ban them from such snack foods or drinks, but these are things that you don’t want them to consume on a daily basis for after school snacks. Let your child help you make choices when grocery shopping and encourage them to choose snacks that are low in fat, sugars and sodium. Letting your child be involved in making choices related to their own foods will help them learn to make healthy choices for themselves.
Keep in mind that kids are most often going to choose snacks that are pretty much ready to eat and easy to come by. Don’t expect your child to do a lot of snack preparation on their own. If you intend to offer things like fresh fruits or vegetables, make sure those snacks are readily available and pre-prepared so your child can just simply open the refrigerator, make their choice and enjoy.
If your child is a teenager, they may want to prepare their own snacks. In that case, all you have to do is make sure the food is available and if preparation is necessary, you may want to show them how to do it or leave written instructions just in case you aren’t home when they get in from school.
Healthy snack ideas
Some healthy and creative snack ideas that you may want to consider for your child are things such as:
Fresh veggies and dip - Fresh veggies are a great option for children of any age. You want to make sure you offer a low fat/low calorie dip. You can use fresh celery, carrots, broccoli or other fresh cut veggies. When they know dip is available, it will make the veggies more appealing to your child. This is a snack that is good for children of any age.
Ants on a log - This is an easy option where you stuff celery with peanut butter and top with raisins. Younger children seem to love this option.
Egg wedges - Take hard boiled eggs and cut into wedges. Put some cheese on top or pieces of fresh fruit.
Fresh fruits - Try to make sure you have a supply of apples, oranges, bananas and other fruits available. Ask your child which fruits they prefer and give them a couple to choose from at snack time.
Those are just some suggested ideas for healthy after school snacks for your children. There are many more foods to choose from. Use your own creativity and although you don’t necessarily have to totally ban your child from snacking on other things, you don’t want them to be in the habit of choosing things like potato chips and soda instead of an apple and glass of water or skim milk. Once your child realizes they have healthy snack options to choose from and know those foods are just as satisfying, they will most likely begin to choose those healthy snacks versus the snacks that have no nutritional value.