10 Nutrition Packed After School Snack Ideas For Kids AND Grownups
Hey parents- you know the drill: the kids come home from school hungry, or even ravenous, because lunch was a bust. Snacks are essential to keeping kids (and adults) from turning into a Hulk-like hangry version of themselves. Grabbing a midday snack has been proven to help with appetite control, increased energy, better concentration and allows us to squeeze in nutrients and vitamins we may not fit in at meal time.
As parents in the trenches know, timing is everything when it comes to after school snacking. Be sure not to offer a large snack right before dinner unless you’d like a battle over “finishing that plate or so help me…”on your hands. A good rule of thumb is to offer the snack right after school but before homework time. This way young minds (and yours) have the capacity for homework, study and concentration while still leaving a sufficient amount of time to burn through a few calories and work up some hunger before meal time.
“An ideal snack should consist of protein (meat, nuts, cheese, yogurt, milk) and a carbohydrate (crackers, bread, fruit) but is low in sugar and salt and should be no more than 100 to 200 calories depending on the age of your child,” said McKenzie Rockwood, Registered Dietician and owner of Citrus Pear Dinners, a healthy meal prep service.
With these simple guidelines in mind it’s time to hit the kitchen with some after school snack ideas:
Or should we say apples with peanut butter and a bit of chocolate. But hey calling a simple snack something a little more fun can make the difference between your child trying or protesting. Slice the apple into super thin rings and remove the core. A mandolin slicer works great for this step. Next, load on some peanut butter, or almond butter and sprinkle a few mini chocolate chips, consider adding walnuts or cashews. A little prep work makes this snack fun and different.
Cheese With Crackers and Strawberries
It’s nice when healthy eating is simple. No prep work or Pinterest search required. The cheese provides protein and fats while carbohydrates are taken care of with the crackers and fruit. Have fun exploring different snacking cheeses such as mozzarella string cheese, Laughing Cow cheese, or Babybel cheese. All are prepackaged and come in a variety of flavors making it an easy go-to. Dietician Tip: Be sure to look for a cracker with whole grains.
Chocolate Milk With Applesauce + Graham Crackers
If a sweet tooth is the only tooth your child eats with, this recipe is a good one. Milk contains great protein while the graham cracker and applesauce create a sweet tasting carb. Childhood at its finest.
Cottage Cheese and Pears
Here comes that protein again! One serving of cottage cheese can have as much as 28 grams!. Suddenly your protein powder is feeling self conscious. Not to mention cottage cheese plays well with a variety of fruits. Prefer savory over sweet? This protein superstar tastes great with veggies and crackers as well.
While there are a lot of smoothie recipes out there, your concoction can be as simple as fruit, greek yogurt, a touch of milk (maybe sneak in some spinach but don’t worry we won’t tell) add ice, sweeten with honey and blend. Keeping a bag of frozen fruit in your freezer makes this snack prep a snap.
Hard Boiled Egg with String Cheese Toast + Grapes
With a few more calories and protein this simple treat is a great one for your rapidly growing teen or tween. Prep Tip: Hard boil a carton of eggs at the beginning of the week. This is a perfect grab-it-yourself snack.
Hummus With Carrots and Crackers
Hummus affords us that winning protein, plus some fiber and is a great companion for any kind of veggie stick or cracker. Consider exploring various flavors and mixing it up with carrots, cucumbers, celery or peppers. All go well with hummus and– bonus points– it makes for a colorful plate! After all, we eat with our eyes first.
Or avocado toast if your palette is more mature. Avocados get a lot of buzz. Maybe it’s because they are packed with healthy monounsaturated fatty acids or the fact they contain over 20 vitamins and minerals. We think it’s because once slathered on toast, avocados taste like nature’s butter. Yum! Begin with a whole grain bread, toast it up and spread on a soft cheese. Next, cube up an avocado and do the monster mash by smashing the avocado on the toast with a fork. Dash with S and P and you’ve got a snack adults and children can both agree on.
Peanut Butter and Banana Roll Ups
Grab a whole wheat tortilla, slather it with peanut butter and simply wrap it around a banana, then slice it up into bite-sized pieces. Viola! You’ve got banana sushi, or a roll up, whatever you want to call it to ensure your child gets a little bit of the good stuff into their bodies.
Yogurt with Fruit and Nuts
Hitting all the good stuff can be easy. When it comes to yogurt go Greek, because of its straining process it’s packed with more protein than the normal stuff! Be sure the yogurt of your choice is low in sugar, top with fresh fruit, drizzle with honey for added natural sweetness. Adding a handful of nuts gives us unsaturated fat, omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, vitamin E, and… wait for it… protein. We could go on, but, let’s leave the study time for later and get to snacking!
If possible have your child’s snack prepared and waiting for when they walk in the door. If you aren’t there when your child arrives home, designate an area in the fridge or pantry where their after school snack can be easily found and assembled. This eliminates rummaging through cupboards and grabbing the first thing that catches their eye (“Oh look, chips!”) If a well thought out snack is the first thing they see, that’s what they’ll eat.
Dietician Tip: A snack does not equal a treat. Limit high sugar, high fat choices. Try to make it as nutrient rich as possible.
We often hear abs are made in the kitchen but so are memories. Does the mention of grilled cheese with tomato soup make you feel nostalgic? Why not have snack time be a positive ritual? A slice of time you set aside to ask your child how their day was. Chat over a healthy snack and sooner or later your child will be reaching for these healthy foods; not just as a source of nutrition but because it fills them up in more ways than one.