We love fall: warm sweaters, scarves, hot chocolate… but for families fall is an busy time of the year. While September is the one month out of the next five without a major holiday, it’s challenging because it’s a transitional month. Families switch gears from carefree summer days to tight school schedules packed with activities.
One thing all parents with school-aged kids hear after they pick up their kids: “I’m huuungryyyy…” Take some of the stress out of meal prep with these quick and easy after-school snack ideas. With a little snack to hold them over, parents can get dinner on the table, homework checked, and the kids to sleep just a little bit earlier — giving you that much-needed down time!
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Quick and Easy After-School Snacks
1. Graham Cracker ‘Cheesecake’. Spread cream cheese on graham crackers and top with fresh slices fruit or berries for a “cheesecake” effect.
2. Hummus and Veggies. Baby carrots, sliced cucumber or red pepper, and whole wheat pita will make for a quick veggie infusion before dinner. An easy way to present them with new vegetables to try.
3. Ants on a Log. Cut celery sticks into ‘logs’, fill with smooth or chunky peanut butter and top with a row of raisins.
4. Popcorn. Short on time? Pop a bag of popcorn in the microwave. If you’re concerned about health, opt for plain popcorn and top with shaved parmesan, nutritional yeast (parmesan flavor with protein and without the fat), Italian seasoning, or chili powder.
5. Peanut Butter ‘Pizzas’. Spread peanut butter on whole wheat bread and offer an assortment of toppings for your kids to add: sliced strawberries, banana, or even a handful of dark chocolate chips.
6. Frozen Bananas. This snack involves some thinking ahead, but is great way to satisfy cries for “I want ice cream!” Cut bananas in half and stick popsicle sticks inside. Freeze overnight on a baking sheet then put in a freezer-bag. Serve as you would a popsicle.
7. Apple Blossoms. Blend a little chocolate hazelnut spread with almond butter. Put a dollop on a plate. Arrange thinly sliced apple slices in the dip to look like a flower. Sometimes presentation and a touch of chocolate is half the battle to getting your kids to eat produce.
8. Steamed Broccoli with Ranch. The tough, sometimes grainy texture of raw broccoli is sometimes hard for kids to get past. Lightly steamed broccoli, either on the stove in or in the microwave, creates a much more palatable texture. A side of ranch dressing for dipping never hurts.
9. Pita Pizza Pockets. Slice whole wheat mini-pitas in half, spread pasta sauce inside and stuff with cheese and thinly sliced veggies and melt in the oven for a healthier — and sometimes faster — alternative to frozen pizza pockets.
10. Cheese Plate. Inspire your kids to be adventurous with their snacking. Slice a couple different types of cheese (cheddar, gouda, and pepper jack are fun!) with their favorite crackers and let them try sometime new. They’ll learn that there’s an alternative to American cheese slices!
11. Caramel Apple ‘Nachos.’ This is a super neat idea. Fill a plate with sliced apples. Drizzle a little bit of caramel topping, vanilla yogurt, mini chocolate chips, and crushed nuts for a fun treat.
12. Rice Cakes with Sliced Banana. Doesn’t get much easier than this. Spread rice cakes or multigrain cakes with a nut butter of your choice and top with sliced bananas. A sweet, healthful, crunchy snack.
13. Cheese Roll-Ups. Lay sliced provolone flat, top with turkey or ham, roll up and serve! Add a little dish of mustard for dipping if you’d like.
14. Yogurt Parfait. Layer berries and vanilla yogurt in a small dish, drizzle with honey, and top with crunchy granola.
15. Cheerios Snack Mix. Don’t have time to make homemade Chex Mix? Same here. Throw some regular cheerios, peanuts, raisins, and a handful of chocolate chips in a bowl. Toss and serve.
16. Avocado Toast. Whole wheat toast topped with smashed avocado and a sprinkle of salt makes for a satisfying snack. For older kids looking for kick, add some crushed red pepper or nutritional yeast for a protein-packed cheese flavor.
17. Pizza Bagels. Slice a bagel or mini-bagel in half. Top with tomato sauce, cheese, and let your kids add toppings from options like chopped veggies (whatever you have on hand), olives, or ham or pepperoni. Place in oven at 350 until cheese melts and bubbles.
18. Fruit and Yogurt Dip. Dip makes a difference! This trick does for fruit what ranch does for vegetables. Sweeten Greek yogurt with honey, mix together, and serve dip with an assortment of fruit. The kids will love it and it’s packed with protein — keeping the kids out the kitchen until dinner.
19. Pretzels and Chocolate Chips. Introduce the kids to the lovable combination of sweet and salty with a handful of pretzels, chocolate chips, and some roasted peanuts.
20. English Muffin Toasties. Slice whole wheat english muffins in half, top with a slice of ham and a slice of cheese, toast in oven until cheese is hot and bubbly.
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21. Hulk Smoothies. Throw frozen bananas, a couple handfuls of baby spinach, and milk or milk substitute into a blender. The kids will only be able to taste the sweet bananas in the smooth creamy texture of this fun green ‘milkshake.’
22. Lazy Loaded Nachos. Spread tortilla chips over a microwave safe plate. Top with sliced cheese (whatever you have on hand) and beans or veggies of choice. Microwave until cheese melts. Serve with salsa or sour cream.
23. Quesadilla. This is perfect if you have a fridge full of leftover chicken or steak. Warm a pan, place a large whole wheat tortilla in the middle, quickly top with leftover meat, sprinkle with cheese, top with another tortilla. Heat and flip until both sides are golden, crisp, and cheese is melted. Cut into wedges and serve as is or with sour cream or salsa.
24. Chocolate Dipped Strawberries. Dip a handful of fresh strawberries into a little bit of chocolate hazelnut spread. Serve on a plate.
25. No-Bake Oatmeal Energy Balls. A great make-ahead snack. You can make a variety of flavors and store in the fridge and serve throughout the week. Get the recipe at Bless This Mess here.
26. Baked S’Mores. Okay, so this isn’t the ‘healthiest’ treat — but everything in moderation! Make one s’more for each kiddo, but bake in the oven instead of heating over the fire. Slip in some sliced fruit or berries if you’d like.
27. Woven Wheat ‘Pizzas’. Place your favorite woven wheat crackers on a baking try. Top with cheese slices and a slice of pepperoni or a piece of ham. Bake until cheese is melted.
28. Protein-Packed Hot Chocolate. Soy milk contains 7-9 grams of protein per serving, making it a great snack if you want to beef up a beverage. Make a standard hot chocolate pack with soy milk instead of regular milk for a more satisfying after-school beverage.
29. Baked Garlic Parmesan Zucchini Chips. Here’s an after school snack that the adults might want to enjoy too. While it’s not as quick as some of the other options, it’s a relatively low-maintenance recipe. Get the recipe from Diethood here.
30. Banana ‘Nice Cream’. Blend frozen bananas in a food processor, add dashes of milk or milk substitute until you reach the desired consistency (think soft-serve ice cream). Top with a squirt of chocolate sauce, chopped nuts, cereal, or a dash of sprinkles for a healthier take on ice cream.
We hope you and your children enjoy these snacks or were inspired to invent your own! For more back-to-school tips and family-friendly recipe ideas, visit our blog at thepajamacompany.com/blog.