those dreaded words "i'm hungry!" and so it begins, they are home from school tired, cranky and hungry. you've been running around all day and have just walked in the door, the last thing you want to do is drop everything and make them a healthy snack. you think " let them eat a bag of chips, just this once, you'll do better tmw". the truth is we've all been there and it doesn't have to be that way. you can have them get a healthy snack on their own while you gather you wits about you and start thinking about dinner (that's a whole other blog post) all it takes is a little planning in the beginning of the week, or whenever you have a free hour. yes i said, hour?! but one hour a week, will save you several hours of your sanity later.
the whole idea behind this is to create snack stations with healthy grab and go snacks that the kids can get themselves. the hardest thing for a kid is to think about what they want and what they should eat when they are in this cranky hungry state of mind. they are very visual and if you make it easy to find and chose they will make the right choices on their own.
there are three easy stations that anyone can create in their kitchen.
the first and easiest is out in the open, counter tops, kitchen tables, islands wherever works for you.
load your counters with fresh fruit and easy snacks, like gluten free pretzels or nuts. we keep them in covered containers so they stay fresh and it's easier for the kids to grab and eat.
next is the pantry, food drawer, wherever you keep your snacks.
load a basket with mom approved snacks, like granola bars, fruit leathers, prepacked peanuts, put items like veggie sticks, and rice cakes in easy to open and close containers. the containers help to keep items fresh, and are no messy bags and crumbs. the added bonus is if you buy in bulk, it is cheaper than the small prepacked bags. this station is great for grabbing out the door snacks or helping when the kids pack their lunches. here's another idea,make one of these for you on another shelf. i pack mine with almonds, protein bars and dried fried and nut mixes, makes it easier for me to snack and run too.
the next is the fridge, this one can be for the whole family too.
this is where snacking can get dangerous. the endless opening and closing of the doors and staring into the abyss hoping that something will jump out at you. now the food will jump out at you and make your choices easier. find a shelf that is easy for everyone to reach, or your oldest at least, they can help your littliest. (see another sneaky thing, teaching them how to take care of each other). load the shelf with small yogurts, precut fruit and veggies. i keep things like carrots & celery in water, this keeps them extra crunchy and fresh. have fresh squeezed veg/fruit juice for them to drink and pre-filled reusable water bottles. another way to save on money(and the enviroment, but i won't bore you with my granola bar theories), refill your own water, instead of buying the little throw away bottles.i love these collapsable water bottle by vapur. things like string cheese and baby bell cheeses are also a great thing to add.
this isn't very hard and really the most work is in the chopping of fruits and veggies. my kids have a similar shelf in our drink fridge, loaded with v8 juices and coconut waters, for the times when water just doesn't hit the spot. the key is with just a little planning and organizing 1 day a week, you free up so much time during the week.
this post is for all my friends who open my fridge and pantry and laugh at my little ocd problem i have. it doesn't have to be pretty, just convenient and easy.