Back-to-School season is a time of wonder and commotion. While this year may look a little different, the excitement and to-do lists are still there. ONIE is here to help! We have compiled a list of 5 easy lunchtime and afternoon snack ideas that are great for kids on the go or at home. We’ve also included some tips to get the whole family involved and to help you keep those learning minds fueled.
Is lunchtime a little chaotic around your house? Focus on making healthy food and beverage choices from all five food groups including fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy to get the nutrients your kiddos need. Following the MyPlate guidelines, make half your plate fruits and veggies. Make half of your grains whole grains. Move to low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt. These small steps are a great way to provide all those nutrients that young minds need to get through their days.
Learning must be hard work because come 3 o’clock these kids are hungry! Having healthy pre-portioned snacks can help kids stay focused on homework and prevent overeating and spoiling their appetites for dinner. Have chopped up fruits, vegetables, cheese, yogurt, trail mix, or single servings of these snack recipes at eye-level in the fridge or pantry for easy to grab afternoon snacks. This should help kids to avoid less healthy snacks like chips and cookies.
Get Kids Involved
Kids who build healthy eating habits at a young age have less chance of developing chronic diseases later in life. Do this by getting them involved in the kitchen. Younger kids can help mix up ingredients, add toppings, or wash fruits and vegetables. Older kids can help with peeling, opening cans, or even chopping (when trained). Have kids assist you in prepping out weekly snacks or packing nightly lunches. Another way to build healthy habits is to teach them about meal planning. Ask them to create a 5-day lunch and afternoon snack meal plan. They can use words or draw pictures based on age. Use the resources at choosemyplate.gov to teach them about the food groups.
Snacks are important in managing kiddos’ hunger and boosting nutrition. Try these simple and healthy snacks to help tide appetites over until dinner.
Market Fresh Pasta Salad
This chilled pasta salad is filled with veggies, fresh herbs, and tons of flavor. Portion pasta salad into snack-size bowls. This is a great snack for kids of all ages because they don’t need to heat anything up. Sub out your kiddo’s favorite veggies or try fun pasta shapes.
Look, we get it, sometimes you have to “hide” veggies in your kid’s food. These zucchini muffins look and taste like traditional banana muffins with added nutrients. Add ½ cup of crushed pecans or walnuts for texture and good fats. Sub ½ a grated carrot for ½ of the zucchini to sneak in another veggie. We won’t tell, promise!
These pizzas are a great way to get the kids involved. Let them pick out their favorite toppings and create their own personalized pizzas. These could also be made using a toaster oven, cooking times may vary so watch and take out when cheese is bubbly. Great for lunchtime or as an afternoon snack. If made ahead of time they can eat the pizzas cold or microwave for about 45 seconds.
Tuna, Veggie and Rice Salad
This tuna salad has a secret weapon for hungry bellies, brown rice! The added energy and fiber from brown rice help kids feel full quicker and longer. Sandwiches are just one of many ways to eat tuna salad. You can serve with crackers, add to celery for tuna boats, top on mixed greens for a salad, or even pack into avocado halves, yum!
Homemade Ranch Dip with Veggies
This homemade ranch dip has fewer calories, fat, and sodium than many store bought brands. And it is higher in protein. The best thing about this recipe is the extra seasoning mix. Follow the recipe and you will have leftover seasoning to quickly add to yogurt and sour cream to whip up a fresh batch of ranch in no time!
Note: Store homemade ranch for up to 3-5 days in your refrigerator in an airtight container.
Kids need constant fuel for those growing bodies and learning minds. These easy snack recipes are great to keep them going in between meals. Do you have a kiddo snack success story? We’d love to hear from you, share below.