A planned after-school snack is one way to help kids achieve nutrition goals. Plus, for kids with activities directly after school, they'll likely need a snack before they begin practice and sport activities.
It's snack time!
A snack is only as good for your kids as you make it. That means providing snacks with as many vitamins and minerals as possible without overdoing it on the calories. Luckily nutrient rich food can be absolutely delicious. Try these ideas for fun, flavorful after-school snacks:
- Scrambled parfait olé. Toast a slice of whole-grain bread. Scramble an egg. Layer in a heatproof sundae glass with chunky salsa.
- Hummus fondue. Stir low-sodium vegetable broth into hummus until fondue-like. Serve cool with cubes of fresh whole-grain bread and cucumber on bamboo skewers.
- Chips 'n' "favorite fruit" salsa. Have your child choose a seasonal fruit. Finely chop it, and stir ½ cup fruit with ¼ cup salsa. Serve with whole-grain corn tortilla chips – or grilled chicken strips.
- Orange bowl. Scoop out segments from a large orange half. Cut a sliver off the rind on the bottom so it sits flat. Fill the orange bowl with whole-grain cereal and milk of choice. Place orange segments around it like they're sun rays.
- Burger kebabs. Cook a veggie or turkey burger; cut into bite-size pieces; insert onto bamboo skewers with cherry tomatoes and whole-grain pita pieces. Drizzle with ketchup or mustard.
- Smoothie soup. Blend one cup frozen fruit of choice with ½ cup each vanilla yogurt and 100 percent fruit juice of choice. Serve as chilled soup in a bowl or cantaloupe "bowl."
- Ant attack. Spread a mixture of ¼ cup low-fat cream cheese cheese and 2 tablespoons salsa onto a whole-wheat tortilla. Top with shredded leafy greens and scallions ("grass") and black beans ("ants").
Packing Snacks Ahead of Time
If you need to pack snacks for your child to take with them to school, choose options that are still safe to eat at the end of the school day. Foods should not sit out unrefrigerated for more than two hours or for more than 1 hour when the temperature is 90 degrees Fahrenheit or above.
When sending kids to school with an after-school snack when a refrigerator isn't available, pack nourishing, shelf-stable foods, such as:
- Breads/grains. Single-serving boxes of whole-wheat cereal and trail mix, energy bars, granola bars, cereal bars, whole-wheat bagels and popcorn without added butter.
- Fruits and vegetables. Carrot and celery sticks and other cut-up raw vegetables, grapes, cherry tomatoes, single-serve applesauce, washed whole fruit (apples, peaches, bananas), dried fruit mix and 100-percent juice boxes.
Teach your children to carefully wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before eating or handling food. Include a packet of moist towelettes in your child's lunch to serve as a friendly reminder to clean up before lunchtime.