Providing healthy snack choices that kids will enjoy can be a challenge. It is often much easier to open a bag of chips, or open a can of pop than it is to fix a healthy snack. When kids are hungry, there is no time to wait. The longer they have to wait, the more likely it is that they will opt for the bag of potato chips. The key to getting kids to choose the healthy foods over the not-so-healthy ones is to have it ready when they want it.
It is like Moms have to play beat the clock so that the unhealthy foods do not win. Kids can learn that healthy eating does not mean hunger. The task is not as difficult as it would seem with a little preparation and a lot of imagination, Moms can win the race against junk food and instill the idea that healthy foods are more satisfying than junk foods and that they don’t have to be complicated.
In order to pull it off, you first have to begin with the grocery list. The ingredients must be on hand in order for it to work. The grocery list should include items such as pita bread, tortilla wraps, bagels, English muffins and every type of vegetable imaginable. Cheese is essential, as well as ranch dressing, spaghetti sauce, and other family favorites. The list should vary from week to week so that it does not get boring. With these few items on hand, an almost endless variety of combinations can be prepared in just a few minutes. Before long, your kids will discover which ones are their favorites.
The key is preparation. Veggies need to be pre-chopped and stored in zip locks or other containers so that they can just be thrown on without any effort. Even though chopping does not take much time, at 3:00 in the afternoon between band practice and soccer practice, it is overwhelming and not likely to get done. The key is to chop it ahead of time. If any meat is left over from last night’s dinner, tear it into pieces and place it in zip locks as well. This is a great way to use those odd leftovers.
Of course, some of you are lucky and have kids that will be happy to munch on carrot sticks and cantaloupe chunks. If you are, then these ideas simply provide a little extra treat. However, if you are like most, the lowly carrot stick by itself does not a satisfying meal make.
First start with the bread, then add a layer of sauce, then add a heaping helping of veggies. Top with the cheese of choice then microwave or stick on the grill for a few minutes. Almost any combination makes a healthy, fast snack that they will love.
Some of our favorite combinations are:
Pita stuffed with veggies, leftover meat such as chicken or turkey, ranch dressing and cheddar.
Tortilla wraps, salsa, veggies and chicken or turkey, and cheddar or provolone.
Bagels as an open face snack topped with ham and cheese.
Instant pizzas can be concocted using English Muffins as the bread base, topped with spaghetti sauce, mozzarella and your favorite toppings. These are much healthier for you and your kids that those frozen greasy things from the store, and much tastier too.
The key point is that healthy snacks do not have to be complicated or take a lot of time and effort. With just a little imagination and preparation, your kids will learn that they can have healthy snacks that are ready in a snap!