While I am generally not a fan of my kids snacking, there are times — like right when they get home from school — when they just want a little something. Immediately. And they don't care that I'm actively cooking dinner that will be ready in five minutes.
So while I'd rather they not snack, I'm also a realist. As long as I can guide them toward something healthy, I know they can feed their growing bellies. The key to making this happen is to organize the healthy snacks so that kids can get them themselves.
Here's how to do it.
1. Put the healthiest options at eye level.
Some kids, like mine, will literally stack a step stool on top of a counter stool to get to the six-month-old Halloween candy. But if I have a bowl of clementines on the table, they just might be enticed to eat something healthy instead. Having cut veggies in a storage container at their eye level in the fridge increases the chance that they'll reach for something healthy first when they're in browsing mode.
(Psst! This tip works for adults too.)
2. Designate a shelf.
In the pantry, choose an area and put all the snack-appropriate foods there. This will reduce the likelihood of them pawing through all your dried goods to find something to eat. And it can help you teach younger kids the difference between a healthy snack and a less-healthy treat, like cookies or chips, if those items are kept elsewhere. Plus, it keeps you from having to navigate them towards the appropriate foods ("It's in the second-from-the-left cabinet on the right, behind the flour …").
3. Consider pre-packaged snacks.
I'm actually little torn on this one, but it's a solution depending on how old your kids are. For my 3-year-old, having applesauce in packets or pre-portioned fruit snacks makes it easier for me to monitor how much she's eating, as she'll finish one and ask for a second (or not). It also avoids the mess of having her scoop something out of a jar and spill it everywhere. For older kids who can, say, grab a handful of almonds without spraying them across the room, you can skip this.
4. Use bins and containers.
Bins and clear containers work on pantry shelves and in the fridge to corral smaller snack items and make them easier for little hands to access, while limiting the amount of time they spent moving other things around, potentially leading to messes.
5. Rotate the snacks.
My kids love plenty of healthy things, but if I offer the same thing too many times, they suddenly hate it until about a month later. So instead of loading your designated spot with every possible snack option, set out just a few at a time. When they finish them up, replenish them with something different. Novelty is key!
Even if you're buying things in bulk and storing the rest on a higher shelf, creating a sense of variety in the options they see will make them more excited to eat your first-choice snacks instead of going hunting for that Halloween candy.
What steps have you taken to organize healthy snacks for your kids?