Meal planning: what about snacks?
In comments on my meal planning post, I was asked what I do about snacks for kids.
Afternoon snacks happen maybe once or twice a week, usually on cookie-baking day when fresh cookies are coming out of the oven, or in the form of a popsicle poolside on a hot day. (Yes, the junky food-coloring kind– yikes!) Sometimes in the afternoon I’ll set leftover breakfast pancakes out for snacking. Occasionally I’ll offer carrot sticks or other veggies. I figure if kids are truly hungry, they’ll eat carrot sticks and pancakes. If not, they can wait til dinner. The only time I buy snacks like potato chips and pop is when we’re having a party or going on a trip.
Dessert is actually more frequent than afternoon snacks: I serve sweet treats (like butterscotch chip cookies, apricot crisp or cranberry pumpkin bread) at dessert probably 4 or 5 meals a week. Often teenagers do my baking for me– in fact, it is usually a teenage girl with a snack craving who decides to bake cookies in the afternoon, and blesses everyone with her industry at dinner.
Evening snacks are standard after swimming at the rec center, which we do 2 nights a week during the school year. Kids come home hungry! Snacks usually consist of a cookie, fruit, or a slice of homemade bread. Movie night with the whole clan usually calls for a couple different desserts, and often popcorn as well.
One of the reasons I don’t do afternoon snacks EVERY day is that I don’t want my kids filling up on goodies at 4 and then turning up their noses at dinner at 5:30. It still happens sometimes, but I think that it would happen a lot more often if we snacked every afternoon.
You definitely have to take your family and your style of cooking into consideration when you’re thinking about snacking. Right now our youngest child is 7. We did afternoon snacks much more often when we had toddlers and preschoolers. Little kids often don’t eat enough at meals to last 4 hours without getting grumpy.
One more thing: meals at our house tend to be pretty substantial. Rarely does a meal consist only of sandwiches, and (come to think of it) when I do try to get away with a light meal like a main-dish salad, I have hungry people sooner and end up having to come up with a snack.
I’m sure there are times when kids wish that snacks were more exciting at our house. But I know that would just tempt us all to eat more than we should. (Me especially!) As it is, we are all normal weight and in good health. I hope that our snack choices will give our kids a jump on good health in future years as well.
For more snacks and desserts, be sure to check out my recipe index!