When to offer snacks and what snacks are best to curb after school cravings in children is definitely a question that comes up all the time. I have always had a rule in my house whereby if my girls return home with their lunch finished, I will always offer them a snack. However, if their lunch comes home unfinished, rather than offer them something different I will give them a second chance at finishing the rest of their lunch.
My Lunchbox Made Easy book has a whole section on snacks, so a perfect addition if you're looking for simple, healthy snack recipes that you can whip up for the school lunches!
When to offer your after school snack
For some families, the afternoon is actually the time that they find best to serve their children dinner. Your little ones might be at their most hungry and therefore more open to trying new foods! If having a later dinner better suits your family's routine, I recommend providing a healthy snack first to curb their after school cravings. You should then leave a gap of about three hours between this and dinner so that they are guaranteed to feel hungry again.
My top tip: leave a gap of about three hours between snack and dinner so that they are guaranteed to feel hungry again.
If you choose to serve dinner a little later when the whole family is around, this can be the perfect time to sit around the table and spend some quality time all together! Engaging with your child and having them open up about their day means that you may potentially pick up on important issues they may be having at school, as well as hearing about all the great stuff they are doing! Moments like this are so special and can sometimes be missed if your family eats at different times. However I recommend doing whatever works best in your home!
Tips for After School Snacking:
- Ensure your child's lunchbox is fully eaten and water is drank before offering an afternoon snack. If their lunch isn't finished encourage them to eat this first.
- Choose foods that are different to their morning snack to ensure they're getting variation in their diet, but try to include a carbohydrate, protein, fruit and/or vegetable.
- If you have more time in the afternoon you can whip up some delicious pancakes and top them with lots of fruit.
- Have a cut off time for snacks to make sure you have at least a 3 hour gap between snacks and dinner.
- If choosing shop bought options ensure they are low in salt and sugar.
My favourite snack recipes
In terms of what kinds of snacks you should offer, this could be a savoury muffin such as a Vegetable Egg Muffin, or something as simple as a slice of wholemeal toast with some nut butter or perhaps some yoghurt and fruit. Check out my list of go-to healthy snack recipes below!
- Apple & Banana Muffins - naturally sweet and full of healthy fruit!
- Roasted Chickpeas - perfectly crunchy, deliciously seasoned and a great alternative to shop bought crisps.
- Healthy Granola Bars - great as a lunchbox filler or as an after school snack, and a handy breakfast on the go for busy parents too!
- Cheese Scones - a delicious twist on the traditional recipe, add lots of healthy toppings such as salsa, avocado or tomatoes to make them even more nutritious.
- Banana & Berry Muffins - definitely one of the most popular recipes from my Baby & Family book and a huge hit with the whole family!
If you are stuck in the lunchbox rut check out my Lunchbox Made Easy book. Which is packed full of delicious, easy to make snack recipes that are perfect as healthy lunchbox fillers!