This post is sponsored by The Breastfeeding Shop
Summer is here, and with it came those haunting words: “Mom, can we have a snack?”
It’s every parent’s nightmare. It seriously makes me question how they survive at school without eating every 15 minutes. Of course, since I have a toddler at home during the school year, I’m used to him snacking on demand. But three kids eating incessantly makes meal planning and grocery shopping a full-time job.
We have a few food-related rules in the house. Some are simple —“Don’t eat in the living room” — and some are more complicated, like “Eat healthy snacks.” This is where kids can get in trouble. My children and I do not have the same definition of “healthy.” So here’s what I do.
I only keep “mom-approved” snacks in the house. I put the snacks they are allowed to have within reach. I keep fruit easily accessible. I made simple food seem fancy by freezing it or designating it “Wednesday after naps” snacks.
What they eat
My toddler wants to be big like his siblings, and I’ve discovered the snacking habits of a 2-year-old are shockingly similar to that of a 10-year-old. For the most part, they eat the same snacks.
- Fruit: apples, bananas, berries, and grapes are our favorites.
- Yogurt: either in cups, smoothie, or tube form (frozen tube yogurt is the best).
- Granola bars and crackers: easy to eat on the go.
- Deli meat and string cheese: think Lunchables, but with your own ingredients.
- Hard-boiled eggs: something that can be made in bulk and in advance.
- Vegetables: carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, and sweet peppers, served with hummus or even ranch dressing.
- Chips and dip – salsa and tortilla chips are a great afternoon snack.
As children begin to read and recognize photos, you could make a list of available snack items for them and put it on the fridge. That way they know what they are allowed to eat when. I like to encourage mine to eat something healthy first, so that fruit would come before the granola bar.
Meal prep is key
I’m a huge fan of meal planning and prepping. With the solo parenting and crazy military life, it’s a must. I like to plan meals that I can assemble in advance or that take less than 20 minutes to cook. The same prep methods can be applied to snacks.
Encourage your children, even your toddlers, to help with meal planning and prep. All kids can give suggestions on what they want to eat, and they can help in small ways. Toddlers can rinse fruits and vegetables in the sink. School-aged kids can help assemble homemade Lunchables. As they age, they can start chopping vegetables, making sandwiches, and packing lunch boxes.
Another thing I’ve started doing is putting leftovers directly into a container to take for lunch the next day. The main dish, the side, the fruit, the snack: Everything gets assembled as I do dinner cleanup, and it’s all ready in the morning.
So, get ready for the next 5 weeks of summer vacation and arm yourself with snacks. Make a plan, share the plan, shop the plan, and then get ready to live it. You can do it!
By: Rebecca Alwine