Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of its author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of FoodNurish.com.
If you’re a parent, you know the struggle of finding the balance between foods kids will love and foods they’ll actually eat. That’s why we put together this list of ten meals and snacks you can feed your little ones when they get home from school with rumbling bellies.
- Apple Nachos
One of the absolute easiest after school meals is apple nachos. Slice up your child’s favorite type of apple and lay the slices in a pretty circular pattern on a plate (after all, what kid doesn’t like a visually appealing snack?). Drizzle the slices with your child’s favorite nut butter and sprinkle on some raw pumpkin seeds.
The apple provides fiber and vitamin C, and the nut butter contains protein and healthy fats. Don’t even get us started on the seeds. These powerhouses contain countless nutrients, but arguably the most important are the essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Gone are the days when muffins were only sugar- and carb-bombs. With a few simple swaps, muffins can become one of the healthiest and most delicious after-school snacks for your child.
Swap butter for plain Greek yogurt and eggs for bananas. Sweeten with honey instead of sugar for a low glycemic index option. You can even swap up to ⅓ of the flour in the recipe for protein powder. Just be sure to use whole wheat flour and a powder without added sugars.
Surprise! Cookies can be a very healthful after-school snack. Use a lot of the same swaps as in the muffins above. Also, consider using rolled oats or almond flour in place of whole wheat. Rolled oats are gluten-free, and almond flour is higher in protein and lower in carbs.
Try recipes that include nut butters, natural sugars like honey or agave, and dried fruits. If your children can’t get enough chocolate, opt for cacao or dark chocolate chips. These typically have less sugar than milk chocolate, plus important nutrients like magnesium.
- Energy Bites
Similar to muffins, the internet abounds with recipes for healthy energy bites. And, just like apple nachos, they’re super easy to make. Most recipes simply require mixing all the ingredients together, rolling them into balls, and chilling them for a period.
Look for recipes that contain fresh fruit, raw nuts and seeds or nut butters, quality protein powders (optional), and no added sugar. The best part is, kids, love popping these cute, tasty little round bites into their mouths. It adds an element of fun to after school mealtime!
- Microwaveable Hot Dogs
Yes, you can absolutely find healthy microwaveable hot dogs. Bonus points if the toppings come included! Quality hot dogs are high in protein and iron-rich, essential nutrients for growing children. Look for reduced-sodium options using premium ingredients.
Plus, because they’re microwaveable, usually kids can cook their meal themselves. What child doesn’t love hot dogs and a little independence?
- Grilled Cheese
A classic after school meal, grilled cheese is not only quick to make but easy to customize. Try chopping up some spinach or sneaking some tomato slices inside to up your child’s vegetable count for the day. Prioritize whole wheat bread and low-fat cheeses.
Serve with a side of carrot sticks (or your child’s veggie of choice) or tomato soup for a well-balanced meal containing fiber, complex carbs, and protein.
- Frozen Yogurt Fruits
All you need is some yogurt and fresh berries. Raspberries and blackberries work best for this, although you can hollow out strawberries, too. Simply fill a sandwich bag or frosting piping bag with Greek yogurt and toss it in the freezer. Check it every ten minutes or so; you want it solidified but not solid.
Once it’s ready, pipe the yogurt into the holes in the center of the fresh fruit. Voila! A simple snack that’s packed with fiber, protein, and all the vitamins of fruit. Your kids will love popping these delicious, healthy treats into their mouths.
Yet another supremely versatile option, roll-ups make a great after school meal for kids. Roll your filling of choice in a whole wheat or brown rice tortilla and cut into small, bite-sized pieces. Pierce each piece with a toothpick to give your kids a unique way to eat.
Fill your roll-ups with hummus, spinach, chicken, turkey, cheese, bell peppers… whatever proteins and veggies your kids love. These bite-sized versions of larger wraps are sure to be a hit.
- Roasted Edamame
As a riff on roasted chickpeas, try edamame instead. These soybeans are rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals, but arguably most important is their protein. It’s one of the very few vegetarian protein sources with all nine essential amino acids our bodies can’t produce.
Roast the beans with your spices of choice. Try simple salt and cracked pepper or get creative with a barbeque or cool ranch topping. Your child can snack on these while they do homework or decompress from school.
- Mini Fruit Pizzas
Fruits are not just for breakfast! Layout mini whole wheat tortillas, Greek yogurt (or cottage cheese), and a variety of berries or cut up pieces of fruit. Kids will love getting to assemble their own “pizzas” and you’ll love the serving of fruit they’re getting. Add the complex carb of the tortilla and the protein in yogurt and you have a well-balanced meal.
These ten ideas have so many variations—which veggies or fruit you choose, what flavor nut butter—that you can come up with endless combinations to tide hungry little bellies over until dinner time.