Healthy after-school snacks
What will hungry kids find when they arrive home after school?
Children need snacks. Snacks can play a very important role in helping kids fulfill their daily nutritional requirements if healthy snacks are planned for. MyPlate continues to recommend that we eat a variety of foods from each of the food groups to promote good health. Snacks can help your children get additional servings from each food group in case they are not getting enough at meal times.
As kids arrive home after school with a hungry stomach, what will they find for snacks? My kids are always starving the minute I pick them up. Michigan State University Extension recommends having a plan in mind for afterschool snacks. A plan can help encourage the consumption of healthy snacks and not a quick run through the drive thru or grabbing high-calorie snack items.
Remember that some children arrive home to parents or caregivers who can help them prepare a snack but others arrive home to an empty house until parents arrive home from work, so think about which category your kids fall into and plan accordingly. If your kids come home alone, have a designated spot in the pantry and refrigerator with snack foods they can select and enjoy until you get home.
Snacks can be prepared with foods from any of the food groups- dairy, protein, fruit, vegetables and grains. Be creative and utilize snack time to feed kids foods they might be missing during meal times. Some simple ideas are:
- Whole-grain cereal with fat-free milk
- Popcorn (light on the salt and butter)
- Fresh, canned or dried fruits
- Fresh veggies with or without low-fat dips
- Whole-grain bagel, English muffin, bread or tortilla with peanut butter or hummus
- Low-fat yogurt
- Hard-boiled eggs
- String cheese
Prepare single-serving snacks for younger children to help them get just enough to satisfy their hunger. Let older kids make their own snacks by keeping healthy foods in the kitchen.
Here is a great recipe from MSU Extension’s “Making Healthy Choices” newsletters that kids can do on their own.
Kid’s Pizza (serves 1)
- Use a toasted 100% whole-wheat English muffin (or slice of bread) for your pizza base.
- Add 2 tablespoons pizza sauce to base.
- Add a sprinkle of cheese.
- Add your favorite toppings (like tomatoes, mushrooms and peppers).
- Place on microwave-safe plate and microwave for 45 seconds or until cheese is melted. Be careful. It will be hot!
- Let food rest for 3 minutes to allow the food to fully cook.
Use snack time to give kids the foods their bodies need.