I don’t know about your children, but when ours arrive home after school they are hun-gry. *laugh* Even after having had a great lunch at school, it’s time to eat again for these growing Muffins! And to avoid them raiding the pantry and choosing to eat less-than-nutritious options *smirk*, it’s good to be ON PURPOSE – to plan in advance and be prepared in advance for them with something healthy and yummy. *smile*
It is good for both the children and for mom to have a snack already prepared for the children before they arrive home. Then children can dive right in, and mom can focus on enjoying them and helping them rather than feeling exasperated by their own quick-grab choices while trying to fix healthy food. Most often I choose to prepare a vegetable platter for our children while I’m already preparing my own lunch mid-day. And I serve the veggies immediately upon arriving home with them with either ranch dip, salt, or peanut butter which some of our children love to dip their veggies in to. *smile* (Now celery, I get that; but cucumber? Or carrots?… Go figure. LOL) My mom always said that peanut butter is one of the most perfect foods: good protein, and healthy plant fats. Okay – go!
For getting raw veggies into the children’s diet I choose to serve those at home where I’m sure they’ll eat them, rather at lunch time when they are at school and unsupervised by mom. *wink* Kids need good veggies both raw and also cooked if desired. For many years I served green smoothies for breakfast, but now that our children are attending public school their breakfast needs to last them for 4-5 hours before lunch time. Green smoothies are so delicious and rich in nutrients, but from our experience they only keep kids full for a couple of hours. When we were homeschooling that was no big deal and we served a snack mid-morning; but now the kids need bulkier, more satiating and longer-lasting breakfasts. So veggies are served for snack and dinner in our home. *smile* Also, I like to serve veggies when the kids are really hungry and much more likely to gobble them down because of that. *chuckle* But no matter what you choose to serve for your children’s after-school snack, I encourage you to prepare it in advance.
It can also be a good idea to serve one snack option for the children, compared to letting them choose all varieties of snacks. With one choice provided you can purchase food in bulk, and ensure fresh food will be eaten before it goes bad. You also do not have to store tons of variety in your pantry, catering to everyone’s moods and preferences simultaneously. A healthy choice can also be made for them, and the snack will not only benefit them nutritionally but it will last them the right duration of time before dinner.
I actually do not serve too much heavy proteins for snack like I do for the three main meals of the day, because then the children are not hungry at dinner time which is not that far away. The carbs in veggies provide a good boost of energy and fiber, with a little natural protein but without filling them for too long. Or if you’d rather, a whole grain cracker snack such as Wheat Thins or Triscuits will last them for a while but not likely into dinner time.
Sugar is also a good things to avoid at snack time. Sugar will kill their appetite for dinner, and it lowers their immune system or worse, feeds a virus that may be lurking, just waiting to be enabled to grab hold full force. Whole foods are best. Children will also avoid the “sugar-low” that will hit later by having good, healthy foods. Healthy kids – pleasant evening all around (generally).
So! I encourage you to shoot for healthy, easy, and pro-active! *smile* Three cheers for easy snack time!
Blessings on your snacking efforts,