So here we are in the thick of summer break. The days are long and you’re constantly hearing “Mom, I’m bored!” and “Mom, can I have a snack?” And if you have teenagers, it’s likely they’re staying up late, sleeping in and making their appearance at lunch.
You’re not alone. It’s the same story over here. Hi, I’m Jenny from @Lunchboxmafia on Instagram. I’m here to help you navigate and maximize snack time.
First, taking a few minutes to prep and get organized can save you time throughout the day. This can be as simple as:
- Cutting up your watermelon or peeling some carrots after getting groceries.
- Portion out leftovers while you clean up from dinner.
- Designate a “snack drawer” in the refrigerator to store your juice boxes, yogurt tubes, string cheese and fruit cups.
Let’s think of snacks as small meals. By adding a side or dip or by pairing your snack with other nutrient dense foods, you and your kids can fill up and fuel up! Here are some ideas: Mix Greek yogurt with peanut butter and it’s a delicious, high protein dip for apples or graham crackers. Adding a protein will keep them fuller longer.
Try cheese and crackers with strawberries, carrots with ranch dip and sliced turkey roll ups or rice cakes with Nutella and hemp seeds. Yum! Which one are you craving right now?
Eat, play and learn with your smaller kids! By engaging their five senses, you can have meaningful conversations about food with them while making snack time fun. Let them be silly. Let them play. Let them discover and enjoy snacks their own way.
- SIGHT – These grapes are green. What other yummy foods are green?
- SMELL – We’re having strawberries. What do you think of when you smell fresh strawberries?
- TOUCH – Put these olives on your fingers. Wiggle your fingers like this. How do they feel?
- SOUND – If a dinosaur was eating this apple, what would it sound like?
- TASTE – Tell me what this fruit dip tastes like?
Are there foods you wish your kids would eat? Kids are usually more relaxed around the table at snack time than at dinner. This is when they are more likely to explore. Use snack time to introduce new foods and practice food exposure.
New foods can be scary so staying consistent with exposure is key. At first they might ignore it or reject the new food completely. But their reaction can improve with each exposure as they talk about it, touch it, smell it .
Maybe by the fifth time, they lick it. If they engage in some way, consider it a win until the next time! Here are some tips we’ve practiced that could work for you:
- Put it on a snack board. This fosters independence by allowing kids to pick and choose their bites! Be a good example and put a little bit of everything (including the new-to-them food) on your own plate.
- Serve new foods with something they love. If your kid loves strawberries and you are introducing hummus, serve a small portion of hummus and crackers with strawberries. If they finish all the strawberries first and ask for more before touching the hummus and crackers, instead of saying no and shutting down the conversation, you can say something like, “That’s all the strawberries we have for today. Maybe we’ll have some more tomorrow.”
- Accurately name and reference the food. Talk about where it comes from, how it provides energy, whether it’s a fruit or vegetable. Avoid labeling foods as “good or bad”. This is important because kids associate labels with behavior.
- Use cookie cutters to serve food in fun shapes. Serve the snack with their favorite utensil or put it on their favorite plate if they have one. (Check out my Amazon store via the link in my bio on Instagram.)
- Try the food with them! If it’s something you don’t like, be honest. My daughter and I had some laughs when we first started eating Brussels sprouts. We enjoy them now, but it took us both several tries.
Come say hello! Follow me on Instagram @lunchboxmafia and let me know if you found this helpful.
Images provided by Jenny P. | Originally published in the July 2022 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.