Is there anything more stressful than your kids bounding into the house after school yelling how hungry they are? The solution is to get out ahead of snacks and prepare what you need for the week. The other strategy is to limit snacks. I can’t tell you the number of parents who have snack issues because other moms send their starving kids to their house after school and expect them to feed a hoard. You are not a charity. If kids come to your house everyday, you need to have a frank talk with the thoughtless moms and let them know you can’t afford to feed their brood every day without them pitching in. The really clever ones will either reply, “Oh, don’t feed them anything, they don’t need a snack” (and then pick them up after 7 p.m.) or claim they will eat anything when clearly, they won’t. Kids are smart,, if snack time sucks at their house, they are going to turn into little gourmets at your abode and want the best so set limits. The response to this sort of manipulative behavior is to smile, tell the misery mom that this won’t do, children need to be fed so you expect when her kids come over that she will be supply a snack every day. Oh, and dinner too if she picks them up late. Be firm. Kids are not dumb. My daughter’s dearest friend had an extended family emergency so my daughter generously volunteered to watch her daughter and son for a few weeks after school. The son was laid back, anything was fine with him but the clever daughter decided she was allergic to everything except expensive and high end food. Turns out, she wasn’t. She just wanted stuff her mom would not buy. This child will go far in life we predict. Luckily, my daughter and her friend are always on the same page and the moms sat the little girl down, told her how things were going to go and that was the end of it. If necessary, tell visiting kids the rules and stick to them. Some frugal snacks you can make in advance:
Wraps Galore: You can wrap a lot in a tortilla. On Sundays scramble up extra eggs and fold them into tortillas with cheese. Roll up in foil and reheat in the toaster oven or air fryer. If using the microwave, secure in parchment paper. You can also make peanut butter and jelly in a wrap; smear some cream cheese and grated cheese, even sprinkle in leftover veggies or salad along with a couple of slices of cheese. Just about anything in your fridge will take well to a wrap including hazelnut or almond spreads, jams and all those flavored cream cheeses you bought on sale but never got around to using.
Breakfast for snack time: When you are making that Sunday morning spread, make an extra batch of French toast and pancakes. Cut the French toast into sticks and freeze, they make great snacks. Use the pancakes as bread for peanut butter and jelly, bananas or hazelnut spread. Delicious. In addition, you can start a batch of oatmeal in your slow cooker in the morning and allow your kids to top a bowl full with dollops of yogurt, nuts, fruit, etc. Healthy and filling.
Rice, baby, Rice: Make a large batch of rice Sunday night and use it throughout the week for snacks. Reheat briefly and top with leftover veggies, cheese and whatever you have lying around. Impromptu rice bowls.
Pizza: There are cheap frozen pizzas out there but they are not particularly healthy. Better to take a loaf of French bread (leftover from your freezer stash — even better) and toast topped with pizza sauce, cheese and toppings. Can easily be made in advance and wrapped in foil to warm in the oven.
Pita Everything: Pita pocket breads are perfect for stuffing with just about anything you have on hand from meats and cheeses to tuna or egg salad, anything goes. They are portable and easy to grab and go and can be assembled on a Sunday for the rest of the week.
Yogurt boats: Buy the large tub of low fat vanilla yogurt and spoon into bowls to top with nuts, fruit and a drizzle of honey or agave. For crunch, sprinkle on a tablespoon of oatmeal or granola.
Dippers: For kids who want something light, prep crunchy veggies and sliced fruit on the weekends and serve with sticks of string cheese and any variation of the healthy dips below.
English Muffin Magic: English muffins are the best. You can sandwich anything your kids love in-between from cheese and meat to peanut butter and jelly and wrap them up to be toasted and warmed lickity split.
Other: Hot dog buns and hamburger buns are for more than just dogs and burgers. They are fun vessels for many after school snacks. Try spooning leftover cole slaw, mac and cheese or potato salad in buttered, toasted buns. Yum.
Loaded. Nuke large russet potatoes and fill with cheese, chili, salsa and anything you have leftover in the fridge. Easy and quick, while the potatoes are cooking in the microwave, you can hunt down fillings in the fridge. Alternately, make them in advance and wrap in foil to heat up in the air fryer.
Mega Muffins: Extra large muffins using my the Possibilities Are Endless Muffins recipe. You can make them over the weekend, freeze an extra batch and you have a handy snack for school days.
Nachos, half loaded. I would not recommend this snack on a daily basis but perfect after a big soccer game or special school event: Use cheap corn tortilla chips for this one. Top them with salsa, chili, sour cream, slivers of avocado, everything you love in nachos. Heat the chips briefly before adding the toppings.
2 cups of plain yogurt (you can use low fat vanilla if you are making a sweet dip)
Spices of your choice. For sweet, cinnamon. For savory, garlic salt, pepper and a dash of paprika
1/3 cup each mayo and cream cheese, softened (you can swap out sour cream if you like for one of these)
For savory: 1/2 cup caramelized onions (if you don’t have these handy in your freezer, shame, but try a packet of onion soup or dried vegetables even though it is totally cheating). You can also toss in half a cup of drained salsa in a pinch along with a handful of chopped olives. For sweet: 1/3 cup jam of your choice and 1/3 cup brown sugar or 1/3 cup chocolate spread and 1/3 cup peanut butter (should be at room temperature).
Method: Whisk everything together and chill briefly.