Sharing after school snacks for your kids on those days when you just. can’t. think. of. anything. else.
I love to hear from blog readers, and especially enjoy emails from new subscribers after I send them a welcome email. They respond to my questions, sharing a little about themselves, then telling me what kind of posts they are most interested in. Some topics come up a lot: communicating with your teenager, boy-related posts, and recently, a lot of requests for the Life in our 40’s series. But in addition to all of these, there is one topic which has come up consistently over time. It’s more like a cry for help; a plea for support…a desperate ask for a friend to help solve a problem that goes back as far as recorded history…
“My kids are always hungry! Please give me some new ideas for snacks I can feel good giving them!”
Oh, and do I ever relate. I. so. relate. And because I home school, I don’t even have the pleasure of pushing my boys out the door with a lunch card in their hand, hoping they might make good choices in the lunch line. (not that I fantasize about that or anything…)
Even if we were all kinds of creative when our kids were young, they tend to grow up, and their hunger increases at the very same time as our creativity shrivels up and our commitment to health gets overruled by these growing human’s demand for something that is quick and easy, and just tastes good. Then, we might find ourselves throwing hands in the air in surrender, busting out the party size bag of greasy potato chips, and walking away, only to yell over our shoulder something about “Don’t complain to me when you get acne!”
(not that I’ve done that before…)
And if we’re lucky enough to find a healthy snack or two, must of us get stuck in a rut, and our kids are not shy to tell us about it. They think they need variety in their lives or something, and our minds draw a blank as to what in the world would make them happy.
This always makes me think of my mom, who, after getting tired of making the same dinner recipes week after week, year after year, has more than once said “I wish someone would invent a new meat.”
Well friends, I still haven’t invented a “new” snack idea for our starving children, nor have I “invented” a new meat (sorry, Mom!) But I have compiled a decent list of some great snack ideas to spur on your creativity, or just remind you of an old favorite. These come from my childhood as well as current home, my thoughtful Facebook followers’ suggestions, and, the internet, of course. My hope is that you will chime in in comments below to add your creative twists on these, or something fresh and new.
Hope something on this list inspires you! —–
1. LEFTOVERS. Friends, if you have teenagers, there simply is no better way. Leftovers are a teenage-boy-mom’s best friend. Always cook extra: spaghetti, soup, pasta, casserole, meat, beans, potatoes. There is no granola bar or piece of fruit in the world that can fill a 16 year-old stomach the way a bowl of chili or plate of beans and rice can. Make extra. You’ll thank you.
Now the to the more “snacky” items…
2. Toast: There are so many ways to make toast, and even better: by the time they’re in elementary school, most kids should be able to make their own! Take the ten minutes necessary to teach this one skill and you can sit back and be a #bossmom for the foreseeable snacking future.
(From MyKidsLickTheBowl.com ^ 🙂 )
- Avocado toast
- Peanut (or other nut-) butter toast. *always a favorite. (jelly optional.)
- Toast with jam/jelly. Try some new varieties.
- Toast with cinnamon sugar (or “Christmas toast” as Levi calls it.) Full-on comfort food.
- More healthy toast toppings for kids, HERE.
3. Wraps: Get some tortillas (they make all kinds of healthier options these days–though my kids prefer the basic/unhealthy variety. 🙂 ) And wrap up your stuff–
(^^ Mmm, Mmm, From Delish.com)
- Humus wraps
- Turkey, cream cheese, and lettuce wraps (we love a bit of cranberry sauce in there too!)
- PBJ wraps
- Cheesesteak wraps
- Peanut Butter + banana wraps.
- Veggie wraps (just about anything goes–the crunchier the better, and a smear of humus or cream cheese or mayo will pull it all together.)
- 56 more wrap ideas, here.
4. Pizza: (Historically, kids’ favorite.) Obviously there are frozen pizzas, or the kind you bring home and bake. (and kids love.) But you can also put together many other varieties of home-made pizza snacks:
- Ready-crusts from the store. We use Boboli, but there are plenty of options. Top with a little sauce and cheese and any toppings you have on hand. My boys love some BBQ sauce and cheese, topped with leftover grilled chicken.
- Pizza on a tortilla. Super easy!
- Homemade crusts (Follow these directions to make and freeze your own dough!)
- Mini pizza’s on English muffins, Naan bread, or bagel-halves. Get creative, the kids will love it!
- 50 more pizza ideas, here.
( thanks for putting that ^^^ idea in my head, Food Network.)
5. Veggies: Of course! I promise kids can learn to love veggies. You might have to serve them many times before they start to appreciate them, but use a little creativity and you might be surprised:
- Roasted Kale — a great substitute for potato chips. (Jamie Oliver’s version^^)
- Raw with a dip. (ranch dressing– easy to make yourself (here’s my healthier version) or a prepared dip from the store.
- Roasted veggies. I LOVE to roast veggies for dinner, so I always make plenty to reheat the next day for a snack. Crisp roasted broccoli or kale with a sprinkle of sea salt are an amazing alternative to salty chips.
- Celery and peanut butter. (from my happy childhood memories.)
- Veggies with humus. So good!
- Or, just blend the veggies into your…
- Our 3 favorites in this post. (easiest to hide spinach or kale in a berry-rich smoothie.)
- blended bowls! (a fun twist on your typical smoothie. Plus the toppings!? Yum!)
- Favorite protein-rich, (non-fruit) smoothies here.
- Really any combo of juice, yogurt, fruit and milk of your choice will work. Try new combos and find what works for your family!
- Smoothies are easy to add healthy ingredients into, like protein powders, chia/flax seeds, coconut butter, and etc.
7. Bars and balls
- Family Favorite energy balls (BTW—I often flatten these into a pan and cut them into pieces rather than roll them into individual balls. Much faster process when you’re making a bunch! :))
- 4 Ingredient PB oatmeal bars (no bake!)(pictures above)
- Dr. Ted’s Nut Bars (a little more complicated, but very much worth it!)
- From Active Kids site: 8 Easy Homemade Energy bar recipes for kids.
8. Nachos–many ways. If you think of nachos as fake cheese on nasty ball-game tortilla chips, think again: there are so many ways to make nachos more healthy, filling, and fun. Start with a healthier chip (I buy organic flax or blue corn or other varieties of chips that have less saturated fats and more healthy ingredients.) Then top them with your choice and bake at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes.
- Shredded cheese and black beans
- Shredded cheese and leftover chicken breast, shredded or cubed.
- Cheese + any veggie you can find: sweet peppers, onions, kale, corn…Get creative — these can be delicious
- Food Network shares 50 (!) Nachos recipes.
9. Apples in every variety
- Applesauce (you can buy applesauce mixed with berries or other flavors, but you can also stir in your own flavors–fresh berries, a small spoonful of fresh jam…I also love a combo of yogurt with applesauce.)
- Sliced apples with peanut butter (a Swanson kid favorite.)
- Frozen apple slices. (another one from my own childhood.)
10. Yogurt for days… We might have a full refrigerator, but if we’re out of yogurt my kids will think we’re out of food. Yogurt is a staple in our house–eaten for breakfasts, snacks, and especially just before bed. (I’m not sure when/where that got started, but…) There are plenty of ways to enjoy yogurt:
- Plain yogurt with honey or agave stirred in–top with nuts or granola. (+ seeds or berries!)
- Yogurt parfaits– like my fall cinnamon apple variety!
- Freeze your own yogurt. Fill paper cups with yogurt and swirl in some jam or berries and then freeze. It’s a quick and easy (not to mention much healthier) alternative to ice cream.
- Yogurt with cereal (especially if you suddenly find your home in the emergency state of having no milk on hand. Rest assured–yogurt is delicious with cheerios. 😉
plain nuts, salted nuts, mixed nuts (trail mix.) Nuts are filling, full of nutrients, and EASY.
12: Homemade cereals. Recently we quit buying boxes of cold cereal. We realized that approximately half of our food budget was going into boxes of cereal, which, even if considered “healthy”, really wasn’t.
Instead, I have been making hot cereal most mornings. I buy basic oatmeal in bulk at Costco, and I make extra and keep leftovers in the fridge. Boys have realized that heating that up with a little milk and agave nectar (or brown sugar if they get their way) is actually a really good breakfast or snack.
I also make homemade granola and keep a big container of that in my pantry. Kids complained for about two weeks and now they’re pretty used to not having boxes of cereal at their disposal. (#momwin)
13. Eggs in just about any form: Hard-boiled, scrambled, egg-burritos, and egg sandwiches. Lots of protein, and great for snacking!
14. Good ole chocolate milk! Seriously: Delicious, and filling! Make it with a chocolate protein powder rather than syrup or a sugary powder for a healthier version. Or make your own with just four ingredients.
Thanks, Baking Mischief ^^^
OK Friends, your turn to share! Comment below with any winning snack ideas, or give us your twist on any of the above. Or…share your biggest challenge in feeding your kids: Is it breakfast? Packing school lunches? Nighttime hunger? Comment below so we can tackle these very real #momproblems in future posts as well!
Thanks for being here, and until they’re ready to say it — On behalf of your very own children, I’d like to close with this message: Thank you for taking the time to provide healthy and delicious food. It really does matter.
PS If this has inspired you in any small way, I would love it if you would Pin, and Share with your friends using the social media buttons! 🙂 ALOHA