When my kids come home from school, they are FAMISHED; They eat lunch at 11am (and school generally rushes them along the lunch meal) and by 5pm they are so hungry they can’t even see straight, let alone get homework done. Kids simply must eat something the minute they get home.
After school snacks like cookies and milk are a mom's worst nightmare. I've seen so many cases of kids coming home starving, filling up on snacks and then not eating the meal mom worked all day on! I am going to plead my case for ditching the entire concept of giving kids an after school snack and help you implement a whole new system this back to school year!
THE SOLUTION? ADD AN APPETIZER COURSE TO MEALTIME.
Make it routine to serve some food before the main course. Tell your kids you are serving them "restaurant style" in courses. The first course, the appetizer, will take the place of an after school snack and instead of a sweet treat, they will be expecting a savory food. This appetizer is something quick and easy that any mom or caregiver can get together on the table within 2 minutes! While you can make the appetizer any healthy food your family likes, I usually choose a raw vegetable with a dip. This ensures they get some raw vegetable goodness in their day! Plus dipping things takes time, giving me an extra few minutes to get the dinner main course finalized!
Celery with nut butter
A classic combination and kids can get involved too! Kids can use butter knives to spread the nut butter on the celery spears upping the fun factor. Also to create the always fun 'ants on a log' allow the kids to add chocolate chips or raisins to their celery sticks! For nut allergy kids, sunflower butter is a often great substitute! Have picky kids? Show them this article about the history of ants on a log- they will be fascinated and maybe even try a bit!
Carrots with Hummus
While I personally don’t love baby carrots (so weirdly shaped and processed) I have to admit that there's nothing easier than opening a bag of carrots and a tub of your favorite homemade or store-bought hummus (If using store bought varieties, look for lower sodium options as many hummus brands are extraordinarily high in salt). If your kids are carrot averse (or their teeth are just too tiny) try cucumber, pepper or other raw veggie spears. Bonus points if you put 2 different vegetables on the plate (because kids love choices).
Chips with Guacamole
This is my kids' personal favorite post- school snack. We rotate between tortilla chips and pita chips (sometimes homemade, and other times store-bought) and they always have a lot of fun with the guacamole. I just put out all the guacamole ingredients and when they come home, wash their hands and immediately run to mash up the avocados. They add lemon, salt and a little olive oil and even spoon it back into its shell because guacamole in an avocado shell is the COOLEST idea ever.
Edamame in the Pods
Kids love the idea of popping the beans out of the pods! It is one of those totally acceptable ways of playing with our food! I buy bags of frozen edamame, steam them for less than 10 minutes and plate them with some salt and wedges of lemon (and an extra bowl for all the scraps!)
Do you like the idea of an appetizer course for the kids, instead of your classic after school snacks? Would this system work in your house?