Now that lunch box season is upon us, your inbox and social feeds are likely filled with creative “beyond the sandwich” ideas. But why is nobody talking about the lunch box’s neglected sibling: the after school snack?
All of my mom friends struggle with the after school snack. Should it be healthy food only? Can we sacrifice healthy for quick and easy? Will it ruin their dinner? Is 4:00 too early for Merlot? Okay, the last one was mine.
Last week I asked a group of friends about their go-to after school snacks and the overwhelming majority of us want something that’s quick, easy and, ideally, can be made themselves. So whether your kids come through the door five minutes after the bell rings or hours later, here are some of our favourites for kids. And just for fun, a little something for the parents.
This one’s a no-brainer. Whether it’s cucumbers, carrots, snap peas, cherry tomatoes or green beans, very little prep is required, and most kids will be able to get them out of the fridge themselves. The best part? It takes the pressure off of forcing kids to eat their veggies at dinner, especially if yours, like mine, prefer crunchy to cooked. Hummus, ranch dressing, and guacamole can help veggie-phobic kids get a little more excited about a plate of greens.
Pairs well with: Spicy bloody Caesar
I’ve almost given up sending fruit to school for lunch because I can’t seem to find a way to keep it cold, un-squished and appetizing. But between breakfast smoothies and cut-up fruit after school, my kids seem to be getting enough. (I’d know if they had scurvy, right?) Cherries, strawberries, sliced peaches, pineapple … a fruit plate is a great, colourful after school snack that can be prepared well in advance so they just have to open fridge and insert arm.
Pairs well with: Sangria
Cheese and Crackers
I plan to spend my retirement researching, procuring and eating cheese so it’s important that my kids learn to appreciate it. Sliced, cubed, string or shredded, cheese is right up there with fruits and veggies in terms of simplicity, and most kids love it. Serve it with crackers, kielbasa, fruit or veggies. Older kids can melt it in the microwave over just about anything.
Pairs well with: Crisp, cold Sauvignon Blanc
Lunch box leftovers
I LOVE THIS. I’m usually so grossed out by the squished remains of whatever’s left that I pitch my girls’ lunch box contents immediately. I’ve thrown out perfectly good food because I didn’t have the time or the inclination to clean it up and make it edible again. But several moms swear by this as a way to minimize food waste and help kids learn some hard life lessons about the resiliency of apples and ham sandwiches.
Pairs well with: Warm beer from a can
Depending on how comfortable you are letting your kids operate rotating blades in close proximity to their siblings, smoothies may be a great snack option. Frozen fruit, Greek yogurt, coconut water, almond milk, spinach, kale, chia and ground flax are staple ingredients. Let kids experiment with different combinations then simplify prep by bagging the solid ingredients ahead of time so they can dump them in the blender with their liquid of choice and some ice.
Pairs well with: A shot of peach vodka. No one will know!
Smashed avocado with Tostitos
A friend of mine has a rule: “No chips without something green on them.” Smashed avocado – with or without a dash of sea salt and lemon – is great on chips, crackers, veggies, toast and much more. If your kids want a salty, no-so-healthy treat like nacho chips, this is a good compromise.
Pairs well with: Bud Light Lime. Close your eyes and pretend you’re back at Senor Frogs on Spring break…
No-bake energy bites
Typically made from peanut butter, oats, coconut, chocolate chips, chia and flax seed, honey or maple syrup, these are favourites in my house. I’ve been on an anti-added sugar kick for a while so I switched to brown rice syrup and sugar-free peanut butter and no one noticed. I love these because when they’re craving something sweet, they’re much better than a store-bought granola bar, cookie or muffin. Google “no bake energy bites” for a variety of recipes.
Pairs well with: Baileys and coffee
What did I miss? Share your favourite after school snacks with us!
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