When I was a little girl, I was starving by the time I got off the bus at 4:40! My packed lunch eaten at 11:45am was hardly enough to last through classroom, gym and recess time. Even if I had packed a snack for later, eating and chewing gum was strictly forbidden on the bus. So I was glad for all the back to school real food snacks my mom kept on hand for quick grabbing.
Snack Foods are Expensive
Many ‘snacky’ convenience foods are expensive!
Don’t let current trends bully you into thinking you have to serve these cutesy, individually packaged cricket flour granola bars (yep! Crickets, really!) and fruit cups for your kids to get a healthy snack.
Try to think outside the box when it comes to snacks. After all, food is food. It doesn’t have to be labeled ‘breakfast,’ ‘lunch,’ ‘dinner’ and ‘snack.’ Food can be eaten any time in any way.
Read More: Healthy Convenience Foods to Keep on Hand
Remember the Purpose of an After School Snack
The point of an after school snack is to just tide your kids over until supper. Not to fill them up and leave them in a food coma. Snack means snack – not meal!
So it’s okay if your kids walk away from snack time still a little hungry.
It’s okay if they ask for more and you tell them “No, but supper will be in two hours and this is what we are having.”
It’s okay for your kids to know the feeling of hunger once in a while. And it gives their digestive tract a little break.
Plan for Back to School Real Food Snacks
Part of a snack time that doesn’t break the bank, consists of real food and leaves the child satisfied yet still a little hungry requires a little planning ahead.
To make after school run smoother, post a list of snacks your kids are allowed to indulge in after school. Keep it in plain site so if they come whining to you about being hungry you can point to the list and tell them they can pick a snack.
Make the food easy to see and reach. In the fridge, try using glass containers so the kids can see what’s inside. Put things in the bottom of the fridge so young ones can reach snacks without help.
Put peanut butter, napkins and plates in a cupboard within reach of all your kids.
Since the purpose of an after school snack is not to fill bellies to the gills, take time on food prep day to pre-proportion snacks. Make it clear on your posted snack list that they can have only two hard boiled eggs, one container of crackers or one baggie of nuts.
12 Back to School Real Food Snacks
Read More: Quick and Easy Real Food Snacks for Holiday Parties
1. Hard Boiled Eggs
At the beginning of the week, boil a dozen or two eggs. Peel them all at once so that your kids don’t have to deal with the mess of peeling. Plus, you have one big egg shell mess instead of a little egg shell mess every day.
Keep them in a covered container in the fridge for up to a week and let your kids grab one or two for a snack.
2. Egg Salad & Crackers
Learn how to make egg salad. Or other delicious ways to eat hard boiled eggs. Egg salad will keep in the fridge for about a week. It is easy to dip crackers into it like dip, or smear it on a piece of bread for a heartier snack.
If you have older kids, let them mash and mix their own egg salad from your stash of hard boiled eggs.
Read More: How to Make Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs
Sure, store-bought crackers aren’t the greatest. But they work. If you have time, consider including a cracker recipe on your next kitchen day. I love Jami’s recipe for Sourdough Whole Wheat Crackers. Otherwise make these whole wheat crackers as a quick, stand-alone snack.
Kids (and adults) can go to town just munching these things out of the jar. Try packaging crackers in individual containers so that your kids know exactly how much equates a snack. Then you won’t run out of food as quickly and they won’t have over-eaten.
Granola was something my mom kept on hand all the time. Sure, we ate it for breakfast, but we would also scoop out a cupful and munch on it like trail mix for a snack.
Try this soaked granola recipe or just buy healthy granola here.
5. Nuts & Seeds
Letting your kids have a free-for-all on nuts and seeds can get pricey. Plus, they are so easy and delicious to munch and munch and munch and munch on. Like with the crackers, try pre-packaging them in little snack baggies or containers so that your kids know exactly how much is acceptable for them to have.
Cheese is my constant go-to. I’ve always got some in the fridge in some form. String cheese can get expensive but is a handy snack option. Try slicing or cubing a whole block of cheese at once so it’s easily accessible for your kids.
And, of course, serve it with crackers!
7. Fruits & Veggies
Who has time for a full veggie tray? If you do, great! Otherwise, try keeping carrot sticks on hand all the time. Carrot sticks dipped in peanut butter are an excellent snack that takes care of a rumbling tummy in no time with the fat and protein of the peanut butter. Essentially the carrot stick is there to keep the kid from dipping their finger in the jar of peanut butter!
Serve bananas and apples with peanut butter, too! One piece of fruit on its own might not keep a tummy satisfied but peanut butter makes everything taste better.
The best option is plain yogurt because then you can control how much sugar you add to it for flavor.
I make a point to introduce tart and bitter things to my toddler so he likes a little dish of plain yogurt.
To take the edge off, add a dollop of jam, syrup, canned or frozen fruit to a dish of yogurt.
Briana’s video on how to make your own Greek yogurt is easy to follow and mine turns out every time!
Read More: How to Make Raw Milk Quark Cheese
Popcorn with salt and butter is a great transition snack if your kids are used to potato chips. Make a big bowl and portion it out in smaller containers for the week.
Involve your kids in making it and let them choose a spice to add: garlic powder, onion powder, cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice!
10. Relish Tray
When I was a kid, a jar of dilly beans was the best snack ever! And a treat! Consider getting one of these covered relish trays and fill it up for the week. Put things like dill pickles, dilly beans, olives, pickled beets, pickled okra and sardines on it so your kids and pick and choose what they want.
You can even serve this with crackers or cheese!
11. Fried Egg Sandwich
If you have older kids, teach them how to fry and egg. Slap that fried egg on a piece of bread with some mayo and your child is good to go!
Don’t forget about leftovers! Eat them cold or hot. Either way they make great snacks.
With school just around the corner it’s important to keep feeding your kids’ brains with nourishing food. Healthy meals are vital, but what about snacks? By keeping some of these healthy go-to snacks on convenient, you can take the battle out of back to school real food snacks.