My daughter eats lunch at school at 10:30 in the morning. Afternoon snacks are not given. She’s starving by the time she gets home from school at 4:00, but the rest of the family isn’t home and ready for dinner for another few hours.
Like many children—and adults for that matter—she becomes emotional, grumpy and short-tempered when she’s hungry. Having a snack ready and waiting for her is a necessity in order to avoid a meltdown. It needs to be satisfying, but not so filling that it will ruin her appetite for dinner.
I have my daughter’s snack waiting on the kitchen counter when she walks in the door. I serve it with a big glass of water, as she’s usually thirsty from recess at the end of the day. Once she eats, she is able to tell me about her day, tackle her homework and have the patience to wait for family dinnertime.
Here are our top ten after school snack choices:
Peanut butter and jelly sandwich: Good old PB&J is a balanced choice that is always a win with most kids. I use natural peanut butter, whole wheat bread and my own homemade freezer jam. Sometimes I spread on mashed up banana in place of the jam.
Tuna salad and crackers: Tuna is full of protein and omega 3s. My daughter likes it simple with just a bit of mayo, salt and pepper. I serve it with crackers or stuff it inside celery ribs.
Cottage cheese with fruit: This is sweet and satisfying! Add chopped up fruit to a bowl of cottage cheese. Sometimes I add a dash of vanilla extract or cinnamon.
Ham and cream cheese roll-ups: I spread slices of ham with whipped cream cheese. Then I place a pickle or carrot stick in the middle and roll it up. Sometimes I cut then into slices, which resembles sushi.
Deviled eggs: My daughter won’t eat plain hard-boiled eggs, but she thinks deviled eggs are fun. I usually throw some grapes or cherry tomatoes on the side to round out the snack.
Bowl of cereal: It doesn’t get easier than this! We always have several varieties of healthy cereal options on hand to beat boredom.
Homemade trail mix: My daughter’s favorite combination consists of dry cheerios, mini pretzels, almonds and raisins. I make a big batch of it and store it in an airtight container. It will stay fresh for weeks.
Smoothie: I throw everything in the blender in advance and then my daughter can give it a whirl herself when she gets home. There are hundreds of possible smoothie combinations. Simply throw in your child’s favorite fruit, ice and either milk or juice. Yogurt or protein powder makes it more filling.
Yogurt and graham crackers: My daughter likes to dip her graham crackers in the yogurt. Sliced fruit, such as apples or pairs, also make great dippers.
Milk and cookies: Once in a while your child deserves a special snack! There aren’t many pleasures as simple as milk and cookies waiting for you after school. Bonus points if they are freshly baked! This is a first day of school tradition in our house.
Rachael Moshman is a mom, freelance writer and blogger. She loves sharing an after school snack with her daughter and catching up on her day.