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.

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