After-school snacks give kids energy and nourishment between the end of their school day and dinner time. Snacks are especially important if your kids participate in after-school sports -- which require extra energy -- or activities like math club or community service. With preparation and a little guidance, your kids can make their own healthy, satisfying after-school snacks.
Encourage your kids to make light snacks if they had large lunches or if you plan to serve dinner early. Many fruits and vegetables -- like bananas, baby carrots and berries -- need little or no preparation and are delicious by themselves. Or help your kids put peanut butter and raisins on celery or crumble graham crackers into a pudding cup to make "mud and dirt." To make light veggie snacks more appealing, keep some creamy dressing in the fridge for dipping.
Have your kids make a filling, hearty snack if they are eating their after-school snack between school and sports practice, if dinner will be unusually late, or if they had a light or early lunch. Healthy and filling snacks that kids can make include peanut butter toast and turkey sandwiches on whole-grain bread. Let your children spread their favorite condiments on the sandwich: mustard, mayo and creamy dressing are good, kid-friendly choices to keep on hand. Older kids who can use the microwave can tackle whole-wheat English muffin pizzas topped with pasta sauce, shredded cheese and sliced turkey, or bean burritos with high-fiber tortillas, diced tomatoes, cheese and seasoned black beans.
Set out healthy sweets for after-school snacks if you are working to reduce the amount of junk food your kids eat. Granola with milk or yogurt can tide kids over between school and dinner. Other kid-friendly sweet treats are fruit smoothies, frozen juice bars and whole-wheat toast with low-sugar fruit jam.
Have kids make a healthy snack that takes a long time to munch if you are trying to break them of a junk food habit or if they like to have a snack while they work through their homework. Stock up on pre-cut cheese squares and crackers as well as veggies that can dipped in a light dip or creamy salad dressing. The microwave works wonders when in a time crunch; have kids use it to zap popcorn, or make nachos by microwaving whole-grain corn tortilla chips topped with cheese and fresh salsa.