After school it’s important for children to come home and eat something to replenish their energy and keep them going until dinner. It’s very easy to open a pack of chips or biscuits or make some 2 minutes noodles but your child deserves better than a junk food option. If they don’t like the following suggestions then let them select something from a range of other healthy alternatives. If they kick up a fuss about choosing healthier food options then let them go hungry. If you take less healthy options off the menu and just don’t have it in the house they’ll soon get the message!
Having a snack made and ready to devour might be a good thing for a child who comes home totally ravenous and ready to eat anything that stands in their way. However spending time together making some healthy snacks means you can also spend time talking about the day and sharing experiences. Allowing your child to have a say in what they would like to eat and getting them to help prepare it also means they are more likely to actually eat it.
Healthier food options are often much tastier and have a range of different flavours which can help your child develop their sense of taste.
Kids don’t often drink enough during the day. Water is the best thing to drink to replenish but you can also make a really healthy drink that can double as a snack. Smoothies made with milk, yoghurt and fresh fruit take no time at all. Strawberries, bananas or stone fruits are great in smoothies and kids often enjoy whizzing up these drinks themselves. In cold or wet weather there’s nothing better than coming home to a mug of hot chocolate or soup.
Kids love making choices. Set up a platter of different fruits, nuts, cheese and bread or crackers and they’re bound to find something they like. If you are pre-preparing these then take a little time to make them look attractive rather than slopping everything on a plate with no care.
Dips and Crackers
Homemade dips don’t take too much effort. Grated cucumber in natural yoghurt makes a very refreshing dip. Hummus can be easily made at home by whizzing up some chickpeas, tahini and oil in a food processor. Even cold pureed cooked vegies like beetroot or carrot with a few spices can be delicious. Combine these dips with some crackers or bread. Pieces of flat bread popped in the oven until they go crisp are also yummy – you can try them sprinkled with a little cheese before baking as well.
Sandwiches can be a very substantial snack, Heap some grainy or sourdough bread with fresh salad ingredients and some chicken or cheese. Avoid white bread and sugary spreads.
If your kids want something sweet you can still offer them healthier alternatives like a fruit salad, dried fruit or home made bliss balls. Other home made sweet treats such as biscuits, cakes or pancakes can be healthier than their shop bought counterparts because you can control the ingredients. Homemade treats can help your child feel special because you have gone to some effort and also teaches them to see home prepared food as the norm.
Don’t serve up the same thing every day – unless your child specifically wants it. Try to serve something different each day so after school snacks become something they really look forward to not just because they are hungry, but because the food is exciting.