Best After-School Snacks You Can Prep Ahead
Have these healthier options ready when the kids get home so they won't raid the cabinets — and totally ruin dinner.
Show me a kid who doesn't come home from school ravenous and I'll know it's not one of mine. Five days a week I'm faced with three 7-year-olds (no, not a typo) who want nothing but snacks from the minute they walk in the door until it's time for dinner. Now, I know their tiny growing bodies need an endless supply of food (or so they have groomed me to believe), but I don't believe they should survive on salty crackers alone.
So what's a full-time working parent to do? I've learned a little extra leg work, and I truly mean a little, can help you keep healthier snacks on hand that they can grab while you're finishing up your day.
Almond Butter Yogurt Dip (pictured above)
When you, I mean, the kids just need a little more to tide them over till dinner, pair their apple slices with Katie Lee's one-bowl almond butter dip. You can whip this up in five minutes before the kids get home and quickly slice up some apples when they walk in the door. The almond butter and Greek yogurt give this after-school snack a hefty dose of protein, and a little honey adds just the right amount of sweetness.
A grab-and-go snack, whether my kids think they're going to the kitchen table to do homework or to the living room to occupy themselves while I finish my work, is always top of mind after school. And what's on their list of favorites? Granola bars. On my list of homemade faves? Ina Garten's 5-star granola bars, which are made with pantry ingredients (think oatmeal, dried fruit, honey) and require only 25 minutes of prep work.
Muffins might sound more like a breakfast item to you than a snack, but kids like hand-held food, amirite? Bake up a batch of these berry-filled muffins so the kids can help themselves while you're finishing up that last Zoom call of the day, doing laundry, prepping dinner — whatever is left on your to-do list. They'll never guess this snack is made with whole-wheat flour, either!
My kids could eat ice pops any day of the year — and the same goes for chocolate. When you cover a healthy frozen banana with melty chocolate and chopped peanuts you get a treat you and the kids can agree is a cool after-school bite. These pops will keep for two weeks in the freezer, which makes them the perfect make-ahead snack.
We love hummus with carrots, apples, crackers, pretzels and more. (When I serve it with Giada De Laurentiis' simple pita chips, I always have to make a double batch; the family devours them as soon as they come out of the oven.) For a delicious and creamy hummus that won't disappoint, stick with this 15-minute recipe and save yourself from soaking dried chickpeas overnight.
This six-ingredient recipe comes together in minutes and all you have to do is pour everything into one airtight container — talk about easy! You can make this trail mix as soon as you get home from the grocery store and have a nutrient-packed snack waiting for the kids every day after school.
I've eaten these power balls post-workout, fueled friends with them during trail races, fed them to my kids for breakfast and offered them up when the little ones are "dying" for a snack. My love for this recipe is undeniable. Pulse all the ingredients in your food processor, roll into balls and store in the fridge. The protein-packed bites will keep peanut butter lovers of all ages satisfied until dinnertime rolls around.
I have fond memories of my grandma making all flavors of fruit leather, so sharing this recipe with my kids is deliciously nostalgic for me and healthier for them than those other roll-ups they beg me to buy. Make the most of pear season and a Sunday afternoon with this recipe and you'll have naturally sweetened snacks for the kids all week long.