Snacks are helpful to boost calories when needed and provide additional energy. This is especially helpful during pregnancy and breastfeeding, as well as for young and growing children. Yet, snack time is one of my weaker areas of food provision in a day. I have such a hard time stopping to eat something. I've found that if I have options already prepared then I'm more likely to offer a snack time to myself and my children.
(Side note: I at times find my toddler's behavior to be particularly difficult, and then discover that he was hungry. A toddler may be hungry but not say it or behave in a manner indicative of such (ie going to the pantry and grabbing something nearby to eat). Poor behavior will certainly be the case, though. I've learned it best to be proactive in having a snack ready for him.)
To make things really simple, I've created a list of snack options that I rotate through. (You may recall that I do something similar for our breakfasts). I try to keep the snack time option balanced by containing a protein, carbohydrate, and fruit/veggie. I limit the weekly options to just four different snack combinations that are be repeated during the week. This is helpful for reducing how much I needed to purchase and thereby save money, and also allowing me to prep. once and enjoy it multiple times.Occasionally, we do diverge from the plan. Afternoon snack time is a great time to enjoy a fresh baked goodie if we have one!
Planning breakfasts and snacks has had many benefits for our family. I automatically know what needs to be purchased and how much of it we'll need, which decreases grocery spending and waste. I can ensure we have balanced and nutritious snack options, and thereby be less dependent on processed snack foods. Lastly, the biggest benefit has been the elimination of an area of decision making. I have far greater success in managing our home and family if I'm not overwhelmed with decisions and tasks. I prefer to simplify as much as possible! When snack time approaches each day, I'm prepared with minimal effort or thought (and my hungry toddler has minimal opportunity to become upset. ;) ).
Snack Time Options:
- "ants on a log" (celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins)
- apple slices with cheese slices
- frozen fruit smoothie pop (make homemade or find all-natural fruit and veggie based popsicles in the freezer section)
- yogurt with berries
- carrots with hummus (I often add cucumber slices too)
- whole wheat crackers with cheese slices
- yogurt with banana and plain granola (banana popsicle would be good, too!)
- whole wheat tortilla chips with bean dip (easy bean dip-> mix a can of refried beans, cheddar cheese, and salsa in crock pot)
- yogurt with granola (the kind of granola with fruit in it)
- cereal (usually Cheerios) with milk
- cottage cheese with diced fruit (peaches, nectarine, pineapple, banana etc)
- whole wheat graham crackers with peanut butter
- (green) smoothie
- whole grain crackers with peanut butter, fruit/veggie juice
- tuna salad on whole grain crackers (or celery sticks)
- whole wheat graham cracker sandwich (frozen yogurt + sliced banana filling)
- baked potato with cheese and salsa
- graham cracker with cream cheese, fruit/veggie juice
- pretzels (pita chips, rice cakes etc) with cheese slices
- veggies (cucumbers, celery, bell peppers, broccoli etc) with ranch dressing
- trail mix
- hardboiled eggs
- chocolate "pudding" (avocado, banana, cinnamon, vanilla, sweetner)
- banana bread, zucchini bread etc.
- banana with peanut butter (and occasionally a few mini chocolate chips!)
Of course, some snack options are better for certain ages. So, be sure to use caution in providing any snack that could be a choking risk to a child.