Let’s talk about after school snacks today, shall we? I have a love/hate relationship with 3:15 p.m. At noon, when my youngest is getting ready to go down for a nap, 3:15 seems so far away and I feel like I’ll be able to conquer the world (or at least my mountain of laundry) over the next few hours of glorious quiet time. But things never go as we plan, do they? Maybe Mason fights me on the nap and I lose half the afternoon trying to get him to sleep. Or maybe I accidentally get sidetracked watching The Chew. Or, on the best of days, I plow through my to-do list and even check off a few extra things! But no matter what, the afternoon always slips away too quickly and before I know it, it’s time to get into after school snack mode. The big kids will be arriving and they will be starving…
What is it about the school day that makes kids so darn hungry anyway? I have a 4th grader and a 2nd grader who have come home from school ravenous everyday, since the day they started kindergarten! So, in order to avoid meltdowns and to try to set the tone for a pleasant afternoon, I try to have a snack ready to go for them when they walk through the door. And I find that even the smallest efforts towards making the snack fun or different can go a long way towards that pleasant afternoon thing. (Is 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. not THE LONGEST time of day?!?!) So what goes over well at our house? First let me give you a list of snacks, and then I’ll give you some fun ways to easily elevate them to “Awesome, Mom!…Best Snack Ever!” status…
Great After School Snacks:
Cheese & Crackers, Sandwiches, Pretzels, Fruit or Veggies, Smoothies, Chips & Salsa, Muffins or Quick-breads
Now I know this list is nothing earth-shattering and I’m quite sure it’s the exact same list of snacks anyone’s mom is serving after-school. But here is where it can get fun for both you and the kids:
- Use cookie cutters to make shapes in the cheese – kids love this at any age! Same goes with sandwiches….
- Serve pretzels, veggies or fruits with dips. I have lots of cute little bowls and when I serve a snack with a dollop of hummus, yogurt, peanut butter or ranch, the kids love it. It’s all about the presentation, even to the littlest of eyes!
- Same with the chips and salsa…one of their favorite things is when I make it feel like they are at a restaurant. I nest a small bowl of salsa inside a bigger bowl of chips and the kids feel all fancy. Two bowls of course so I don’t have to hear bickering about chip-hogging!
- Muffins and quick-breads, especially from a mix, can be made so quickly and the kids love it when they are warm from the oven. With just 30 mins of planning ahead, you can have fresh-baked goods ready for them…be sure to crack the kitchen window so the heavenly smell wafts out to the bus stop!
- Smoothies are another huge hit, and a great way to pack in some serious nutrition. Serving them in a fun glass with a cool straw gets you bonus points, and even one step better is having everything set up as a make your own smoothie bar…just let them add and blend.
Now do I lovingly plan, create and serve amazing snack spreads daily? Of course not! You better believe there are days when I throw two packaged granola bars and their water bottles on the table (remember those nap battle days?) But at least a few days a week, I pull out some of these tricks and it’s always worth it when I see their faces light up when they walk into the kitchen. A bonus: when they are happy and well-fed, I find them much more open to answering all my “annoying” questions about their day! And I find that they pester me less about the next big eating event…dinnertime!
P.S. Is anyone else addicted to a 3:00 p.m. cup of coffee? My body just knows that bus is coming, and I NEED a cup of joe…it’s what gets me through that whirlwind of backpacks and stories and papers.
What gets you through the after school rush?