Back To School: 5 Healthy Ideas For Lunches And After School Snacks
For some reason the hours between lunch and dinner make my kids crazy with hunger! I call it the late day feast. I'm always looking for ways to get my kids to eat more veggies and healthier foods, so the late day feast is the perfect time to sneak these things in because frankly, they will eat anything! Especially if you just casually set it out on the table for them to run by and grab a quick bite of something. In our house we call these "hummingbird bites," because they are too busy to sit for a meal but we need them to eat so they just fly by and grab a bite and get back to playing. The meal gets eaten eventually and they get to keep playing. If it's something messy we will usually hold it while they take a bite or they will use a fork. This only works if you are not in a rush to get out the door and you have more freedom with time.
We are fortunate to live near large grocery stores like Mother's Market, Trader Joe's and Sprouts that offer great deals and sales on organic produce. I try to buy most of my fresh produce from the organic section, so whatever is on sale or special is usually what I'll buy.
Here are some different ideas for lunches or after school snacks. This is a list of stuff my kids will actually eat. They are 7 and 4 & 1/2. My little guy hasn't always loved eating a wide variety of fruits and veggies and for a few years was stuck in a rut of only carrots, corn, apples, blueberries and red grapes. However, I kept offering different things to him and would also set out veggie platters with a wide array of colorful options that would get eaten quickly by sissy if you didn't act fast! My daughter has always eaten like a rabbit sneaking into a farm! I mean, as a 5 year old she was munching on Brussels sprouts and asparagus!
After many colorful veggie platter presentations with an array of different dips like ranch, creamy cilantro dressing and hummus, he finally started trying new things. So don't give up if your child doesn't like something. Keep offering it! Someday they might just surprise you and try it!
1. The Veggie Platter.
You're probably rolling your eyes at this one, and trust me, before I saw it with my own eyes I would too. But think back to your child at an adult party or a holiday dinner. There is bound to be a veggie platter there with different dips and your child is bound to be drawn to something on there. So start with serving that! Our veggie platters vary from meal to meal with whatever I have on hand, but I suggest stocking it with stuff your kids like for the first few times you set it out then slowly add in a few new items for them to explore on their own. If they ask what it is, just casually tell them the name of it, reach over and eat one (make yummy noises) and walk away. If you make a big deal out of it, they won't eat it! Things to add to the veggie (and fruit) platter: carrots, cherry tomatoes (these ones are from our garden!), cucumber, celery (I slice it very small into "shoelaces" as seen in the picture, because it can be pretty strong), mini corn cobs, olives, sweet bell pepper slices, small romaine lettuce chutes with ranch dip, jicama slices, even some veggies that are lightly blanched like: broccoli, green beans and asparagus spears. If your kids are really having a hard time eating only veggies you can add in a bit of fruit like apples and grapes, but I recommend not adding in too much fruit because it's so much sweeter than the veggies and they might just eat the fruit and leave the veggies to die on the plate! To mix things up a bit in the veggie department, I'll even make a fresh pressed juice (adding more veggies than fruit to avoid too much sugar) and that seems to keep the troops pretty full til the next meal too.
2. Fresh Organic Fruit. I like to have some things on hand that are already ready to eat like pineapple spears, cut melon like watermelon, honeydew, etc., cuties (the little clementine oranges), fruit cups (in water if possible, to avoid too much extra sugar), apple slices or apple sauce, berries, bananas, etc.
3. Healthy carbs. Everyone needs carbohydrates to help with proper brain function but empty carbs aren't going to help anyone, so opt for healthier ones with whole grains like rice cakes and whole grain crackers. We also like unsalted pretzels, snap pea crisps, whole grain chips and salsa, etc. My kids love rice cakes and they now come in a variety of different flavors. We usually stick to brown rice, light salted with sea salt. We love this brand by Lundberg and can find them at Trader Joe's, Sprouts, Mother's Market, Von's/Pavilions, etc. They have so many products I'd love to try them all! These organic, non-GMO rice cakes are by far my favorite!
4. Healthy Protein. Pair your healthy carbs, fruits & veggies with healthy proteins like hard boiled eggs, lean lunch meats, tuna salad, egg salad, chicken salad (easy chicken salad recipe found here), cottage cheese, low sugar yogurt, sliced cheese or cheese sticks, sea weed snacks, organic nut butters like, peanut (we love apples and peanut butter together!), almond butter or our new favorite, Honey Sunflower Butter from Wild Friends! It's super yummy and the kids love it! They have other products too that I'll have to try. We found this at Costco. I'm eating it right now, in fact, on top of a rice cake! Yum!
5. Kid Sized Sandwiches And Snacks. I have learned as a mom that my kids will try almost anything if it's cut cute and small. So in addition to these snacks I also like to do mini egg salad sandwiches, cucumber with cream cheese, peanut butter & jelly, tiny ham & cheese or turkey & cheese (both with pickles, of course!) or chicken salad sandwiches on whole grain bread (kinda like what you'd find at a fancy afternoon tea). We also keep on hand plenty of healthy trail mix made with unsalted nuts and unsalted pretzels, sesame sticks, dried fruit like cranberries or cherries, banana chips or plantain chips, popcorn, with yogurt chips for a little something sweet added in and I'll serve it in a small dixie cup to eat on the go! We also make mini banana or apple muffins with flax seed, chia or sliced almonds. Anything healthy to keep them full til the next meal!
What are your favorite healthy snacks? Please let us know in the comments below!
|My kids were making "sandwiches" with rice cakes, sea weed snacks and veggies.|
*The products I'm featuring in this post are just some of my family's favorites. I was not asked to advertise for them.
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