Every mom is familiar with the exclamation “I’m hungry!” from her children. It’s said all day long and usually at the most inopportune times or when you’ve forgotten to pack a snack and are left in public with a child who is hungry and needs fuel for their body, leading to strong emotions. I can hardly blame my children when this happens because I still become grumpy and emotional when I’m hungry. You only need to experience this once to never want to have it happen again!
It’s so easy to get caught in the loop of letting things slide and allowing our kids to grab things we know aren’t good for them and won’t fill their bellies for long. One of my goals is to teach my kids to listen to their bodies and help them learn how to choose foods that are nutritious and will fill them up.
However, here are a few things I’ve put into place that have been a game changer:
1. Protein with every snack.
To help avoid the munchies cycle, we add protein to every single snack. The cool thing is now my kids will often ensure they get a protein themselves because they understand it really does keep them full longer.
2. I only prepare one snack a day.
My kids are early risers so they eat an early breakfast and lunch. Because of this, their snack is often a very large afternoon snack (salami, boiled egg, pretzels and an apple). This helps reduce the frequency with which they ask for snacks because they know they get a large snack after lunch and before dinner. However, this rule can fluctuate depending on our schedule for the day. If we are not at home, I bring prepared snacks with me, which leads me to the next tips…a fruit bowl.
3. Fruit bowl.
We keep a large basket of fruit in the middle of our kitchen table; it’s full of bananas, apples and cuties. I do not monitor the fruit bowl and do not limit my kids on how much fruit they eat. Also, having fruit accessible is the quickest way to gauge whether my kids are really hungry; if they truly are hungry, they’ll grab a piece of fruit.
Bonus: I don’t have to help my kids prepare or cut anything up. The other night, right before bed, my growing five-year-old helped himself to THREE cuties.
4. Buy snacks at Aldi and stick to the same few items.
Aldi has expanded their organic food options and even with the rising prices, they are still the most reasonably priced grocery store. I also keep a rotation of about five or so snacks readily available. Kids can get overwhelmed with too many options, so this keeps things simple for them and for me.
5. Sunday evening snack prep.
Prepping snacks for the week saves me so much time and sanity. Typically, I try to do this on Sunday evenings and I do the same three things: I cut up a cantaloupe, boil and peel eggs to have readily available, and make sure my car snack bag is stocked (I always keep peanut butter crackers and trail mix pouches in my car). To boil eggs for the week, I love this egg cooker a friend gifted me a few years ago from Amazon!
These tips may not work for your family, but I encourage you to find a system that works for you and to stick to it! Kids quickly grasp routines and will stop asking for snacks incessantly when they know the routine and learn how to eat in ways that keep them full longer.
Here is a list of our go to snacks in case you are in need of new ideas:
Peanut butter crackers
Hard boiled eggs
Apples and peanut butter
Trail mix pouches
Vanilla Greek yogurt