The After-school Snack Attack: Strategies for Busy Moms

With kids back in school, moms face a set of challenges that somehow seem new every year. One of those challenges is what to feed kiddos who race in the door hungry after a long day in the classroom. As a savvy mom, you know that snacks can help your kids meet their nutritional needs – as long as you pick the right ones. That’s where it can get a bit tricky because in addition to being healthful, the snacks need to be loaded with kid appeal plus be quick and easy to grab. Try some of the following ideas from the different food groups to create a snack that will give your kids calories (energy), meet their nutritional needs, and taste great as well!
• Banana Tortilla Treat – Grab a whole wheat tortilla, spread with peanut butter and sprinkle with low-fat granola. Put a peeled banana on top and roll the tortilla.
• Combo-licious – Top a scoop of cottage cheese with canned fruit. Choose peaches, pears, mango, pineapple or fruit cocktail.
• Wrap It – Spread fresh hummus on a whole wheat tortilla. Add thinly sliced carrots, zucchini, cucumber, or whatever veggie your kids prefer. Roll it up and go!
Feeling rushed in the afternoons? Plan ahead and create a healthy snack shelf at eye level in your pantry and in your refrigerator for kids to grab and go. You might try the following:
• String cheese and a small can of fruit.
• Fat free or 1% flavored milk (chocolate or strawberry)
• Pre-cut raw veggies (celery sticks, baby carrots, cucumber slices) in zipped baggies beside low-fat yogurt dip, cottage cheese or hummus.
• Snack-sized applesauce
• Trail mix with nuts and dried fruit
• Flavored rice cakes with peanut butter to spread
• Microwave popcorn
• Whole-grain crackers on the shelf and sliced cheese in the ‘fridge

With just a little planning, you can avoid snack-time stress and help your kids learn healthy eating habits at the same time.

For more ideas, check out these snack tips for parents. 10 Choose My Plate Snack Tips


Kids: After-School Snacking and Food Safety Tips

Kids: After-School Snacking and Food Safety Tips

washing berriesAre your kids famished when they get home from school? Kids often hit the kitchen right when they get home and begin the search for something to eat. After being at school all day, it’s inevitable they will bring a host of germs into the house (and into the kitchen). These germs, or microorganisms, can contaminate your kitchen and make your child sick if they are not kept in check.

How can kids prepare after-school snacks in the safest way?

Establishing good habits and putting good practices in place can help keep your kids from getting a foodborne illness. The USDA recommends the following:

  • Keep all items such as books, backpacks, and sporting equipment on the floor and off of kitchen counters and tables.
  • Wash hands first when coming home from school, and again before making and eating a snack. Hands carry lots of germs and can easily contaminate everything they come in contact with.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables under running water before eating them.
  • Read more about “Food Safety After School”

What are some good after-school snacks?

Choosing easy and healthy snacks for kids can be a real challenge, especially when dealing with picky eaters. Typically, kids feel more independent when they have options and can control what they eat. Parents can set their children up for success by having a variety of healthy snack choices that are easily accessible. Find some great snacking ideas here. Keith Williams, PhD, director of the feeding clinic at the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, recommends having plenty of fruits and vegetables already washed, cut up, and within easy reach of children. Keep the “sometimes” foods out of reach so you can control when your child eats them. “The goal is to make it easier to obtain the healthy snacks you want your child to eat and more difficult to obtain the foods you don’t want him to eat,” says Williams. Read more about “Breaking Your Gradeschooler’s Unhealthy Food Habit” here.

Establishing healthy habits from an early age can transition children into healthier adults. Learn more about making smart choices by visiting


Preparing for the After-School Snack Stampede!

Young boy drinking a glass of milk

Young boy drinking a glass of milk

It may be hard to believe, but summer vacation is drawing to a close and school is right around the corner. It’s time to plan for lots of things like new classrooms and teachers, unexpected supply needs, extracurricular activity requests – and hungry kids arriving home from school.

Although it’s easy to succumb to the appeal of ready-made, processed snacks, it can be just as easy and inexpensive to offer healthy but delicious options in single-serve sizes. Following are some quick and simple suggestions:

  • Store sliced veggies in the refrigerator and serve with hummus or low-fat ranch dressing.
  • Mix dried fruit, unsalted nuts and popcorn in a snack-size bag for a healthful trail mix.
  • Wrap sliced, low-sodium deli meats like turkey or ham around an apple wedge.
  • Store hard-boiled eggs in the refrigerator for kids to grab any time.
  • Purchase fresh, frozen, dried or canned fruits for easy “grab-and-go” options.
  • Offer a single serving of individually wrapped string cheese or low-fat yogurt.
  • Add club soda to a ½ cup of 100% fruit juice for a tasty alternative to soda.

With just a bit of advanced planning, it’s a snap to halt the snack stampede and wind up with satisfied and healthier school-age kids!

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I’m Home and I’m Starving!

Those are familiar words for most of us with kids.  Though they are not really starving, most children do need a little afternoon boost when they come home from school.  It may have been hours since lunch and dinner won’t be ready for a while.  A healthy snack is usually just the right answer.

When planning afterschool snacks, think of them as the fourth meal of the day or as a mini-meal.  Hopefully, you wouldn’t plan a dinner of just potato chips or candy, so why plan snacks that way?  Use the food groups from MyPlate to help you plan healthy, ready-to-eat snacks from each food group.

  • Fruit – Have a bowl of fruit on the counter always at the ready.  Keep a pre-cut fruit salad or peeled oranges in the refrigerator.  Make 100% fruit juice popsicles.
  • Vegetables – Keep cut up veggies available in plastic zippered bags with kid-friendly dips like ranch dressing to go with them.
  • Protein – A variety of nuts and seeds is always good to have on hand.  Hard boiled eggs offer great protein power as well.
  • Dairy – String cheese and yogurt cups are terrific dairy sources.
  • Whole Grains – Whole grain crackers, popcorn, and granola mix add plenty of crunch.

Easy” and “available” are the key planning points to remember.  Designate a snack area in the refrigerator or pantry.  Decorate a personalized snack box for each child filled with favorite healthy snacks.  A healthy variety of snacks always at the ready holds our child’s interest, provides the much needed energy to close the gap between lunch and dinner, provides nutrients they may not have gotten from other meals in the day, and keeps them from … well, starving.