Back to school bring moans, groans and leaps for joy depending on who you talk to. But there is one this that is universally agreed upon and that is what to do for after-school snacks? Kids are STARVING when they get home from school, so having a healthy after-school snack ready for them is key to keeping them from raiding the chip cupboard and ruining their dinner. Despite what food manufacturers say, snacks should always be seen as mini-meals. They should enhance your child’s nutrient profile, meaning they should be providing your kids with extra nutrition – not just calories.
I always recommend that snacks contain at least 2 food groups and be a mixture of carbohydrate, protein and fat. Also, parents should be in charge of what kids eat for after-school snacks. Try to resist allowing your children to decide on an after-school snack for themselves and do it for them. Give them options that you can live with. For instance, “Today’s snack is cheese and crackers. Do you want Wheat Thins or Triscuits?” Or, “You can have a low-fat pudding and graham crackers or yogurt and granola, which would you like for snack?” This gives children some control while keeping in within the healthy eating rules you have already set.
Often parents tell me that they want their kids to make healthy snack decisions for themselves. I explain that most children don’t really have the maturity to make decisions based on health. A 4th grader can easily tell you that apples are healthier than Doritos, but to then make the decision to eat apples when they are also faced with Doritos is much more difficult. Kids food choices are motivated by taste, not how healthy it is for them, which is why parents still need to be making most of the snack decisions. One day after-school snack may be cookies and milk and another day it’s grapes and graham crackers with peanut butter, but the point is that they are choices that parents have chosen and they fill a nutrient need.
- Popcorn and peanuts
- Baby carrots and yogurt veggie dip
- Graham sticks and peanut butter dip
- Ants on a Log (celery with peanut butter and raisins)
- Rolled deli turkey and cheese slices
- Apple Bar (apple slices with a variety of dips, pumpkin, peanut butter, yogurt, granola, caramel)
- Chocolate chip cookies and 1% milk
- Hot chocolate made with 1% milk and grapes
- Baked potato with low-fat cheese and salsa
- Tortilla chips with black beans, salsa and melted cheddar cheese
- Pepper strips and black bean dip