When hungry kids are home from school, but you're not there to guide their grazing, you can still make sure they eat well on their own if you stock your kitchen with nutritious snacks. We're offering easy, healthy snack ideas along with tips for keeping them in your fridge and pantry so snacks will be ready when the kids get home.
Stock Your Kitchen for Healthier Snacking
Instead of spending on packaged trail mix, buy separate ingredients in bulk and customize the mix to suit your eaters. Making your own means you get to control all the ingredients and can leave out the junk fillers and empty calories so many packaged mixes contain. Learn how buying in bulk can save you money.
How To: Fill an airtight container with a crunchy, chewy combo of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit for a quick and easy snack packed with protein and complex carbs. Kids can eat it by the handful, but you can also show them how to stir it into yogurt and sprinkle it on sandwich fillings.
Tip: Make enough to last a week--extra nuts and seeds can be stored in the freezer to keep them fresh.
More: Try these healthy, crunchy snack ideas.
Kids can use this hearty, protein-rich food as a dip with cut up vegetables or baked tortilla chips.
How To: If you can operate a can opener and a blender, you can make a big tub of savory hummus for a fraction of the cost of ready-made.
Tip: You know your eaters best, so adjust recipes to suit their tolerance for garlic or spices. You can store freshly made hummus in the fridge for up to a week.
Somewhere there exists scientific evidence that letting kids dip their food gets them to eat more of what you want them to eat. And if it gets them to eat more fruit, then that's all to the good.
How To: Keep a tub of it next to a bag of sliced fruit and see if it doesn't disappear within a week. Made with yogurt, peanut butter (or any other nut butter you like), cinnamon, and optional chia seeds, this dip is nutrition in disguise. The recipe calls for vanilla yogurt, but try using plain yogurt to cut down on added sugar.
Tip: To keep sliced apples, pears, and bananas from going brown, toss them with the juice of a lemon and store them in an airtight bag or container. Note that the firmer the fruit, the longer the slices will stay fresh and crisp. You can store sliced apples for up to a week, while softer fruits like bananas and peaches might start to get mushy after a couple of days.
These quick hits of energy are easy to make, easy to store, and easy to take along to after-school sports.
How To: Double the batch because these disappear quickly. Use a mini cookie scoop to speed up the production line, and store half in the freezer.
Tip: Modify the basic recipe any way you want. You can leave out the chocolate chips and add shredded coconut, for example.
More: Get recipes for homemade energy balls.
Who can resist homemade muffins? And if you choose the right recipes (we have a few suggestions below) you can make sure they're loaded up with good-for-you ingredients.
How To: Bake them large or small, depending on the size and needs of your little nippers. You can keep a few ready to eat, and wrap and freeze the rest. If your kids can operate the microwave, they can unwrap and zap frozen muffins until they defrost. Learn how to make bakery-style muffins from scratch.
Tip: Muffins are notorious fat and calorie bombs, so read the nutrition info we include with the recipes to find the ones that are right for you.
More: Try these healthier muffin recipes.
If you have kids who play sports or endlessly hungry teenagers, you might find you need more hearty snacks for them. Keep a big bowl of pasta and protein salad in the fridge so they can quickly help themselves. But will they still be hungry for dinner? The answer is always yes.
How To: Make a big bowl of pasta salad on Sunday night and it will keep in the fridge until Friday. Get tips and recipe ideas for kid-friendly pasta salads.
Tips: Pasta salad can tend to dry out over time, so reserve a little dressing to toss in as needed.
More: Explore our entire collection of pasta salad recipes.
Use our downloadable pantry checklist as a starting point for good grazing. You can keep simple ingredients like nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, cheese, yogurt, meats, and homemade granola in your fridge, freezer and cupboards so kids can help themselves to healthier snacks.
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