after school snacks
Since back-to-school is around the corner, I thought I'd ask other parents what they provide for snacks after school. It always seems my kids (girls 8 & 11) are ready for an entire meal by 3:30! They balk at fruit, cheese & crackers unless I plate it for them as if I'm competing for the Next Food Network Star. Even if they do eat fruit & crackers, they're hungry again in an hour if not less. Cookies & milk you say, but they want warm out of the oven. I have treated them in the past to an easy snack of Nestle easy bake cookies but then that's all they ask for! It is not easy trying to give healthy snacks without resulting in "mom, you NEVER buy anything good!". Help!
I always found that my girls were hungry for "real food" after school; often they'd eaten lunch before noon -- I'd be hungry too. I tended to modify our weekday meals so that they have soup, sandwich, salad, leftovers, or something right after school, then a lighter supper with the whole family later in the evening. I'd rather they had a real meal when they were hungry for it than filling them with snacks for several hours so they could conform to eating at dinnertime.
I think that's the best approach, Susan -- unfortunately I'm not able to be home after school and my teens have to fend for themselves, but I often come home to find out my son microwaved an entire pizza before I got home to make dinner. If there's leftover chili or something, then I feel better knowing he can have something solid even if I get home later.
Maybe English muffin pizzas?
Soup with cheesy bread
mini-sausages dipped in mustard
When I was a nanny, I had to cater to four little boys and their afterschool cravings. Dinner was served promptly at 6 so I had to give them something that would be enough to sate them for a few hours, but not ruin their dinner appetites. Cereal, usually Total, with cut up banana or strawberries was favored by most of the boys though they each had their own twist, one wanted it warmed and mushy, one wanted a drizzle of honey, etc. The youngest did not care for cereal, actually milk, so he would often have a piece of raisin toast with a smear of PB and thinly sliced apple. These snacks may seem a bit carb heavy to some, but little boys run around so much they use the energy right up. I almost never had an issue with any of them growing hungry before dinner or not having an appetite once at the table.
In my own nanny days, I found that the kids were starving, mostly from having eaten 'lunch' as early as 10:20! What got them through was good protien, ready to eat. I would slice different cheeses to have with fruit and crackers, and I had a variety of nut butters available too--almond, cashew and peanut were big hits. It catered to their interest in something other than plain PBJ, while still getting them a bit of fat and protein to sustain them through all the sports and activities.
Another good standby was yogurt, which also tended to fill up and get some calcium into the pre-teen diet for the girls especially. They loved Greek yogurt, though they could be a little heavy-handed with the maple syrup.
Make a bowl of chicken or tuna salad to serve atop half a bagel or maybe some whole wheat crackers... fruit yogurt mixed with cottage cheese... string cheese or babybel cheese? The protein/fat combo should keep them fuller longer.
This recipe in the August Wholefoods newsletter for granola snack balls looked great for kids and tasty too. http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recip...
My mom always would have shredded cheddar cheese and flour tortillas in the fridge for a quick microwave burrito. Add low-fat refried beans and it was a great snack to tide hungry kids over until dinner. Plus they can personalize it easily with what they like on a burrito.
I still remember being hungry after school and my parents wouldn't home from work until almost 6. Being the lazy kids we were, we'd eat Chef Boyardee, microwave burritos, eat bags of chips, whatever was around. That led to being overweight and a lack of general activity for most of the afternoon.
Now I'm doing the grocery shopping for my apt, and I treat my brother like I would a child, even though he's older. I buy healthy stuff that can be combined into something hearty and healthy. Tuna on whole wheat crackers, all kinds of fruit, cereal that has nutrition packed in between a decent taste (I'm on generic Honey Bunches of Oats now), hummus and whole wheat pita, stuff to make a sandwich, etc. I sort of deal with the complaints about the lack of microwave frozen stuff by saying until he buys groceries, he'll deal with it or not eat until later. I know it's different than dealing with actual kids, but I definitely will be approaching it differently than my parents did.
Thanks for all the suggestions. I think my kids are looking for "hot food" items & will give the quick burrito & english muffin pizzas a try. I've also made quick bruschettas w/ sliced baguette & Trader Joes bruchetta; just felt bad that it was just carbs with no nutrional value (well tomatoes are veggies:-))
This is oneof my least favorite things about the upcoming school year. My kids plead with me to stock up on the ring dings and poptarts for after school. Well, aside from the fact that they're too expensive, the nutritional value sucks. So, I made an agreement with them that they could each pick one favorite snack and I would have it available once a week, but the rest of the time they needed to do the peanut butter, crackers, fruit or cheese, but I'm really liking the idea about doing the light meal to hold them over and then fixing a regular meal later in the evening. My kids too eat lunch at school way before noon and are starving by the time they get home. So, thanks for the great suggestions, it sure knocks down my stress level a few knotches.
Personally, I wasn't much of a big eater, and I loved two rice cakes, one spread with apple butter, and the other apricot preserves.
whole wheat tortilla melted with cheddar and mozz soy cheese from TJ's
English muffin or bagel spread w/ tomato sauce and cheese then broiled
Bagel scooped, then sprinkled with cheese, toasted, filled with cottage cheese and/or salsa
Bagel scooped, toasted filled with a little tuna salad, sprinkled with cheese and retoasted then topped with some cold tomato slices
Parmesan fricos alongside some caesar salad with a little rotisserie chicken
Tomato and Cheddar slices drizzled with italian dressing (okay not hot)
Noodles mixed with butter and parmesan
Oatmeal mixed with fruit
Cottage cheese with fruit
Cottage cheese nuked with brown rice, cinnamon, sweetener, vanilla
total yogurt mixed with higher fiber cereal
No kids here, but my father used to give us a small tea of pastry or a sandwich and tea. The pastry was usually something a little heavier to keep us sated until dinner time - a donut or cinnamon roll, heated in the microwave. Sandwiches were usually popular, too. Deli meat on buttered bread with cheese is something I still have for tea. More often than not, I was a bigger fan of cereal, though.
It took her getting used to the idea of not having the fancy gooey cookies, but I've trained my daughter to love whole wheat fig newtons. She gets two with a small glass of watered down apple juice when we get home. She's only 3.5 so we haven't reached the true age of defiance yet, but she can still balk with the best of them.
She also really likes peanut butter toast.
I don't have kids, but I am thinking of some things that my nieces like... pasta salad, veggies & dip, fruit yogurt smoothies, "monster cookies" (made with PB, oatmeal, eggs, sugar of course but no flour, and a variety of dried fruit and chocolate chips or M&Ms), wholegrain toast with ricotta and jam, vegetable soup with beans, pumpkin muffins with cream cheese, crackers and hummus, trail mix...