33 Easy After School Snack Ideas You Need Now
Friends, we made it to the first day of school. How can a whole long summer have passed by while simultaneously feeling like it never happened?
How are you feeling with your kids off to school this week? I’ve been looking forward to the first day (today) mostly because I was getting bummed out with the spotty availability of my girl’s friends during the summer. She would ask me multiple times a day if we could have a play date, and during July and August...well, folks have other plans! My girl is the extroverted type who craves social interaction and activity. And let’s face it, mama’s attention is not enough these days...sniff…
Anyhoo, the vibe today and all this week, whether you are at work or not, is all about sharing your First Day pics and commenting on your friends’ kids’ photos on social media. Who can concentrate on anything else? You wonder whether they’re having a good day, and if they like their teacher, and whether they still have butterflies in their cute little tummies. And how adorable that little Justin wants to grow up to be a game designer like his daddy....
You already know I’m obsessed with food, and well you may or may not know, that I’m also a sucker. Be that as it may, she’s been at school an hour and I’m already planning her first after-school snack of the year.
What’s Your Kids’ Snack Style?
I’ve been working on with the perfect snack profile for my girl after years of trial and error. We have a routine when she comes home. And the first thing she does when she walks in (after groaning and exclaiming that she’s tired!) is to look at the snacks I’ve prepared for her.
Hearing her squeal of delight is what I hold my breath waiting for. Sometimes though it’s another groan - of frustration - if she’s not excited about the contents of any of the little bowls I prepared. Since I’m a sucker, I try to avoid those occurrences by doing some of the following….
1 Set it Up in Advance
When we were growing up, my grandparents used to pick out snacks that they thought my sister and I would love when we came to visit them. They would make sure we had a reason to look forward to being there with them. When someone has taken the time to think through ways to make you happy, it feels amazing. When we are kids, we take it for granted that everyone is here to delight us, but as we grow up, we realize how infrequently folks are trying to please us and just how hard-to-come-by it really is. Taking this time to think of what the kids will enjoy, becomes one more reason for them to be happy to come home.
2) Provide Variety
Who doesn’t love the feeling of having choices!? (Unless it’s me looking at a menu with paralysis of analysis because I’m fantasizing about every single dish...snort!) Kids spend the whole day following rules and being told what to do. When they get home, they need to let down their proverbial hair.
Give them a few choices to pick from. Even just having the ability to decide which snack to have first, or which one not to have is empowering.
3) Crunchy, Fruity, Protein-y and Carb-y
The textures of foods and how they feel in our mouth is important. Just ask most kids how they feel about raw tomatoes, cooked potatoes or mushrooms (in any state) and they’ll give you a very clear answer.
We all have textures that we favor. On most days, I favor the texture of soft chocolate chip cookies. Ok, let’s get real…..EVERY day I want to eat those babies. I also do love to crunch. There’s something about the satisfying crunch of a chip or a nut or a pretzel that makes me happy.
What flavors does your gang like? I will assert they lean towards preferring either sweet or crunchy. I like to give my girl a variety of textures to make her mouth happy. I usually give her a 4-bowl bite buffet of a salty crunchy snack, a fruity one, one with protein and a sweet snack.
4) The Time Must Be Right
This summer while she was at camp, she would get home about 4:30 pm. I wasn’t going to give her a full-on snackfest like I do during the school year because then dinner wouldn’t happen until much later and then it would throw off bath time and bedtime and you know how that would all turn out!
During the school year, she gets home at 3 pm and there’s plenty of time to lounge, snack and chill before homework and dinner has to happen.
Deciding how many snacks to offer will definitely depend on what your schedule is for the rest of the evening. When you have activities to shuttle to, you may want to take your snacks on the road, which is what we do. Believe me, I do NOT want to be caught without snacks for her after school. It’s not pretty….
5) Visual Appeal
Kids love colors. I mean, really, don’t we all? At least, we did before we got used to “mature” things and being grown. It’s ok to enjoy colors and colorful things.
What colors make you happy? Do you like going to a tea salon and looking at all of the interesting patterns and colors? The style of most tea rooms is kitschy and eclectic with intentionally mismatched cups, plates and cutlery.
Sometimes I employ this method and give my girl all different shapes and sizes of bowls or cups for her snacks. It’s definitely eye-catching and maybe (I tell myself) adds to her interest?
You and your gang might prefer a sleeker and more contemporary approach, which I also respect. In this case, having a uniform size and color for the snack session works well.
6) Establish a Routine After School
We all find ourselves with too much to do and too many places to go once school starts back up. But if you can set aside some time to do at least 1 consistent thing every day after school, they’ll come to look forward to that time.
My girl definitely needs some down-time when she comes home. She’s tired from having to walk in a line in the hallways dutifully shush-ing her classmates with one hand on her lips and one hand in the air. She’s worn out from having to listen hard all day, and she’s beat from carting around her backpack.
So when she gets home, I try to restrain myself from asking her the thousand questions (that I REALLY want to ask), and letting her unwind. Usually this means partaking of her snack buffet and me reading her a book. Listening to a story helps her to refocus and shift gears from being at school to relaxing at home.
I’m happy to share some of my tried-and-true snack selections with you all in the hopes that you find it helpful for your snack planning. What snacks are a hit in your household? We all have different favorites and I hope you can find at least one or two new ideas for your gang.
Here are some crunchy faves:
Granola, Pirate’s Booty, pretzels, tortilla chips, Goldfish crackers, garlic croutons, cheerios, roasted seaweed
Here are some protein-y faves:
Albacore tuna (in the pouch, NOT in a bowl...sigh….), sushi, guacamole, empanadas, dumplings, grilled cheese, cheese cubes, yogurt, protein smoothie
Here are some fruit-y faves:
Small tangerines, cut up apple wedges (with or without nut butter or alternative), grapes, strawberries, pear slices, applesauce, pomegranate seeds, dried cranberries, cantaloupe wedges
Here are some carb-y faves:
Cookies (always MY choice for my snacks!), small muffins, crackers, cake pops, caramel popcorn
"Dinner Food" Snacks
As we get closer to dinner, my girl will entertain “dinner food” snacks (i.e. the food she considers to be unacceptable to eat before 5 pm…). Some of these items include half-sour pickles, carrots or celery with ranch dressing, beef sticks and oven-roasted garlic beans.
Good luck with your first week back to routines. Let me know what snacks you love in your house! Comment below!