When I had my first child, I always made sure we had snacks with us whenever we went out ANYWHERE with the child. We had snacks in the car, in the supermarket, when running errands, in my bag, in the buggy…..but as the kids got a little older and a little more ‘particular’ about what they like to eat, I found that they were asking for snacks more often and refusing the food I was making for the evening meal. A little gentle reminder from my mum, who rarely gave us snacks as kids (and we were OK!), made me re-think our constant snacking and after reading a great book by Karen le Billon called French Kids Eat Everything, I decided to cut the snacks as much as possible.
Ok, so that doesn’t bode well for the title of this blog post but, when you’ve read the book (and if you have kids I highly recommend it) you’ll learn that the French routine of feeding their kids is to give them four mealtimes – breakfast, lunch, gouter (after school snack to us) and dinner.
Sticking to these four meal times means that the kids are hungry by the time the next meal is ready. If they do get really hungry and it’s still some time until the next meal, I let them have a small piece of fruit but if it’s an hour or less until the next meal I make them wait, reassuring them they’ll really enjoy their dinner :)
The hardest part in all this is getting your kids out of the habit of wanting constant snacks but I assure you with a little perseverance, a massive heap of patience and sticking to your word they will gradually get used to the new rules! The first step is to stop buying all packaged, processed snacks and when you have used up all the packaged processed snack food in the cupboards don’t buy any more. Keep your fruit bowl and fridge well stocked with healthy fresh food, and the kids will soon learn that even if they ask and ask and ask, the only thing they will get is fruit or chopped veg, because that’s all you have…
I keep the after school snack as healthy and light as possible, giving the kids enough to keep them satisfied but I want them to be hungry again at dinner time to ensure they eat what I have made. Here are some healthy plant-based snack ideas which we use as the after-school snack, third ‘meal’ of the day.
Fruit – mango hedgehogs, seasonal berries like strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, chopped apple and pear, frozen banana on a stick.
Popcorn! They love it, we love it, everyone loves it! And it’s SO easy to make yourself, simply put a tiny drizzle of oil into the bottom of a heavy based pan (which has a lid!) and heat, add enough corn kernels to cover the bottom of the pan and pop the lid on. You’ll hear the corn popping away and as soon as it’s stopped popping, turn off the heat and your pan will be brimming with popcorn!
Kid’s energy bliss balls – if your kids aren’t used to eating bliss balls, then I recommend making them with the kids, this way they can see exactly what’s going into them and they can taste along the way. They’ll also be pretty proud to have made their own ‘sweets’!
All of these healthy kids snack ideas are really quick to make, and I usually make them with the kids when the get home from school. If I know we’re doing something straight after school, I will take smoothies or bliss balls with me to avoid them asking for unhealthy packaged snacks once we are out.
What are your go-to healthy snacks for kids?
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