budget talk

After School Snacks

One thing I remember about my school days is coming home so hungry that I’d grab the first thing I saw sitting in the pantry. And I’m afraid to say that it was usually a handful of cookies or a bag of chips. All kids get hungry and can’t always wait until dinnertime to refuel after a long day at school. But you don’t want them loading up on too many calories and then not eating dinner. A compromise is a small snack. Here are some ideas for keeping after school snacks both fun and healthful.

Portion Control
One of the biggest problems is letting your kids pick and choose how much they eat when they arrive home from school. If they want chips, make your snack treats using smaller portions and put them into zip lock bags. Also opt for low fat and low sugar varieties in everything you serve.

Stock the Pantry
One of the keys to keeping your food budget under control and getting your family to eat healthful meals is having the right foods on hand at all times. If they’re hungry and you’ve only got candy bars and chips sitting around, that’s what they’ll eat. Stock up on things like low fat chips, cookies. Fruit salad is another good pick. Most children won’t protest about eating it if you add things like grapes, kiwi fruit and bananas.

Cheese and Savories
One of my favorite snacks is whole wheat crackers and low fat cheese and children love it too. Another favorite with children are the fish shaped cheese crackers. The best thing is they’re full of flavor but baked not fried. Another pick is low fat chips and salsa.

Mini Meals
Depending on what time your children return from school and what time you serve dinner, they might like to eat a ‘mini’ meal. Maybe half a burrito, quesadilla or a small serving of macaroni and cheese.

While you don’t want children to eat too much before dinner, sometimes a cup of soup can take the edge of the hunger pains. Some fun choices, and a way to disguise the vegetables is minestrone or tomato with the fish shaped crackers.

Dessert First
How many times have you see children hurrying through dinner just to get to dessert? One way to avoid that is to serve dessert as soon as they return home. Good choices include things like low fat rice or chocolate pudding.

Just like adults, some children think they’re hungry when in fact, they’re just thirsty. Have some 100% fruit juice sitting in the fridge or even frozen pop treats made from the fruit juice. It might be all they need.

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