In this article, we’re looking at something that often isn’t considered when packing lunches – the after-school snack! Because kids tend to finish school a few hours before dinner time, many parents like to pack an afternoon snack inside the lunch bag. This is an easy way to ensure that your child doesn’t get too hungry after school, and has sufficient fuel to get them through the day. We’re going to give you a full guide to after-school snacks, and then take you through some of our favorites healthy snack recipes.
What to Look for In an After School Snack?
Before we jump into our list of the best after-school snacks, let’s go over how you should go about choosing the right healthy snack idea for your kid. Because, let’s face it, kids can be quite picky, so you want to select a snack that they will actually eat. Here are what we think is most important in a great after-school snack:
First thing’s first, since you are packing this snack at the start of the day, you need a snack that will keep well. It needs to last an additional few hours past lunch time. If the snack is soggy or too warm after school, then your child probably won’t want to eat it, and we don’t blame them! So, try to avoid food that needs to keep at a certain temperature, and definitely avoid any frozen foods.
Filling (But Not Too Filling!)
You want an after-school snack to provide some sustenance, but don’t make it too big. After all, you still want your child to be hungry for dinner. Try to make it a “half meal,” which means the portion size will be smaller than your typical meal. It just needs to get them through the final couple hours before dinner time!
Delicious and Nutritious
The ever-elusive goal of any parent, “delicious and nutritious.” We know, finding a school snack idea that your kids enjoy and is also healthy is tough. But it’s not impossible. In the next section, we’ll give you some inspiration in this regard.
Protein is a great option for an after-school snack. Protein is so valuable in any child’s diet. Protein is used to rebuild tissues, and is essential for a growing child. Additionally, protein tends to be quite a bit more filling than other foods, especially when you compare it to processed foods or those that are packed with sugar. For these reasons and more, high-protein snack options are a great choice. They keep your child full longer, and they are often quite delicious as well!
Top After School Snacks
Keeping in mind the above factors for selecting the perfect after-school snack, let’s jump into our list. In this list, we’ve focused on giving you a good variety to choose from. It’s a good idea to focus on variety, so that your snack options don’t get repetitive. You can focus on keeping it fresh with new snack options each day, which will also help ensure that you child eats a balanced diet.
First up, we have beef jerky. Beef jerky gets kind of a bad rep in the snack community. Often labelled as “junk food”, beef jerky is a surprisingly healthy and nourishing snack. It’s high in protein, and quite low in calories. The salt content might be a bit high, but as long as you pack proper portions, it makes for a great savory snack. Additionally, it keeps very well, and there are no worries associated with leaving beef jerky unrefrigerated.
Ants on a Log
Ants on a log are another fun after-school snack. To make ants on a log, simply slice some celery, add some peanut butter or other nut butter, and top with “ants” (either raisins or chocolate chips). It makes for a nourishing vegan snack that also has a veggie serving!
Homemade trail mix is a great snack, and you can pack the perfect portion to get kids through to dinner time. Aim for a trail snack mix that has a good amount of dried fruit and nuts (allergy concerns permitting!). Nuts are high in protein and full of healthy fats. They are efficient foods that will give your kids the after-school energy they need.
Almond Butter &Apples
Almond butter is a delicious snack, and very high in protein. Aim for “all-natural” almond butter or nut butter, which means that it was made without added sugar or extra ingredients. Pack some apple slices for dipping, and you have an easy snack.
Hummus & Crackers
Hummus is a great choice for a young kid’s snack. Hummus is delicious, nutritious, and quite filling. Chickpeas are a good source of protein as well. Pack it with some crackers, or even some veggies for dipping.
A basic quinoa salad is an easy, efficient after school snack. The best part is that you can load it up with veggies! We recommend a basic balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Then, slice up some tomatoes, onions, and celery, and add it into the salad. Basically, add as many veggies as you can get away with!
Turkey Roll Ups
Turkey roll-ups are fun, bite-sized snack sandwiches. To make, simply add some turkey, cheese, and mustard to the top of tortilla. Then, roll up the tortilla and slice horizontally. You’ll be left with some fun snacks that also taste great. 2 or 3 small roll-ups is the perfect amount for an after-school snack.
Cheese & Crackers
Cheese and crackers, a classic snack for any kid! Sometimes, you just want to keep it simple. Slice up some cheese, throw it in a snack bag with some crackers, and you’ve got an after-school snack ready to go. Cheese is a filling food that’s packed with protein and dairy.
Thanks so much for reading our guide to the top after-school snacks! An after-school snack is often forgotten, but can be the perfect solution to keeping your kids full until dinner time. We focused on fun, easy, and nutritious snack options that won’t result in too hectic of a morning.
About the Author
Alissa is a resilience coach, cartoonist, and advocate for ‘connection, not perfection’. She’s dedicated to helping others find a sense of safety and belonging inside themselves so they can heal, connect, and build authentic, joyful lives.