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“Mama, I’m Hungry” :: Quick and Easy After-School Snack Ideas

My children know that whenever they proclaim, "Mama, I'm hungry," I will immediately answer something along the lines of, "Hi! I'm Mom. Nice to meet you." Yet they make this statement approximately 17 times a day. My response doesn't seem to faze them, and I imagine it's only a matter of time before it's greeted with an eye roll.

In order to actually receive food, they know that they'd better follow up with "Can I please have a snack?" and they know I usually oblige. Unless, of course, it is too close to a meal, at which point the snack cupboard turns into Fort Knox. That is a lesson I've learned the hard way.

Mid-afternoon, however, is almost always a guaranteed snack, especially now that school is back in session. My first grader is usually famished when she gets home in the afternoon. In addition to all the other changes elementary school brings, gone is the steady stream of snacks from preschool. And when schedules demand that some classes each lunch before 11am, it's no wonder these kids are hungry. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a bit of a blood sugar dip at that time of day myself, so I can totally relate.

I will confess that we are pretty boring in the after-school snack department, though. Our go-to snack ideas include things like graham crackers and pretzels. Oh, and nuts. We are lucky that we don't have any allergies in our house, so almonds, cashews, and hazelnuts are always a big hit (my current favorite combination is almonds and banana chips). One might say we are nuts about nuts...sorry, I couldn't resist.

Anyway, in order to get some new ideas, I did whatever most of us would do: ask the interwebs. And since I consulted my social media network, you don't have to. You're welcome! Without further ado, here are some crowd-sourced quick and easy after-school snack ideas:

  • apple slices & cheese

  • apple slices dipped in peanut butter (pro tip: microwave the pb to liquid so less is used)

  • ants on a log (celery with peanut butter or cream cheese and raisin "ants")

  • veggie sticks in Greek yogurt dressing

  • crackers & cheese slices and clementines

  • grapes and popcorn

  • pretzels with ranch or hummus

  • bananas rolled in crushed graham crackers or dipped in Nutella

  • crackers (Ritz, Wheat Thins) to scoop cottage cheese

  • yogurt or whipped cream with berries

  • frozen grapes (like eating little popsicles)

  • fruit juice popsicles (this popsicle mold from IKEA was the best $2 I've ever spent)

  • apple "nachos": cut apple slices covered with raisins and drizzled with any nut butter/Nutella/yogurt

  • veggies (carrots/celery/peppers) with ranch dressing/hummus/guacamole

  • Naan/pita bread or tortillas and hummus

  • rice cakes with nut butter and raisin "smiles"

  • trail mix: peanuts, raisins, M&Ms/chocolate chips

  • "trail mix" consisting of whatever is in the pantry (popcorn, goldfish, etc.) and mixed in a bowl

  • yogurt and granola parfaits

  • smoothies

  • granola bars or "energy bites"

  • whatever is left in the lunchbox (because waste not, want not)

I emphasize the quick and easy because while those Pinterest-worthy snack ideas are cute, the return on investment is low. When they think they're starving, kids don't care that their snack resembles their favorite animal. At least mine don't. Per my daughter's request, I once made butterflies out of bananas, apple slices, and raisins. Cute, yes, but my children only wanted to look at them because they refuse to eat bananas without peanut butter (sorry, not sorry). 

I try to pack lunches that contain a protein (usually deli meat and cheese), a fruit, and a vegetable (my girls are going to have great eyes based on the amount of carrots they eat), so I don't mind that a lot of our snacks tend to be a bit more carb- or dip-heavy. (Because as a friend mentioned, "Dipping is fun.")

Along this same logic of eating a relatively healthy lunch, I also don't think the occasional treat is a problem. I know I'm not alone in this line of thinking, as one of the suggested snack ideas I received was "Dunkin Donuts drive-thru." Another friend said that Fridays are reserved for a "fun" snack (like a slushie, ice cream, or MemPop) if her children receive good reports at school for the week. Anything in moderation, right?

So now that you are thoroughly hungry, I hope you also feel better equipped to feed those ravenous little humans a healthy snack when they get home from school. Feel free to share any additional ideas in the comments!

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