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You know what it’s like at the end of the school day: kids bursting through the front door moments after you hear the school bus pull away and heading straight to the kitchen. They slam open doors and pull open cabinets. Then it comes: “Mooooommmm, there’s nothing to eat!” Or “Ugh, I don’t want thaat.”
This time you can be prepared with something they’ll not only want to eat but will love. Making these easy after-school snacks at home is a great way to improve your kids’ nutrition without sacrificing their favorite foods. From pizza bites to cookies to mac and cheese, there’s a snack here your kids will love.
After-School Snacks You Can Make at Home 1 of 9
Forget artificial ingredients, steep pricetags, and unnecessary processing. Here are 8 tried and true favorite after-school snacks you can make at home.
Pizza Bites 2 of 9
Who doesn't love individual mini pizzas on bagels? Try this easy at-home version by spreading marinara sauce on an opened mini bagel, and then top with shredded cheese and your favorite pizza toppings. I went with the traditional pepperoni for a topping here, but you could mix it up with things like mushrooms, broccoli, pineapple, ham, or peppers. Use whole grain bagels to give this snack an extra boost of nutrition.
Salty & Sweet Trail Mix 3 of 9
This is a fun snack your kids can help you make. Put all your trail mix ingredients in bowls and let your kids create their own. Here's what's in mine: dried blueberries, coconut flakes, walnuts, and granola clusters. I also love this combo: dried cranberries, corn cereal, pretzels, and Mott's® Fruit Flavored Snacks. I love adding something a little sweet to a typically salty snack. The balance makes the flavors pop in your mouth. Plus, kids are more likely to snack on this healthy mix instead of indulging in those other sugary snacks.
Pocket-wiches 4 of 9
Making hot pockets at home is easy with the help of a can of refrigerated crescent rolls or pizza crust, or make your own pizza or bread dough to use instead. Roll your dough into a square and divide into rectangular sections. Place your filling of choice on the dough, and gently fold it like you're wrapping a present or roll it like a burrito. Bake in the oven at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until dough is golden brown. There are endless combinations for these easy-to-eat hot sandwiches, like mushrooms, ham, and Swiss cheese; chicken, onions, and peppers; or turkey, apple, and cheddar cheese. Mine's got leftover grilled chicken, broccoli, and non-dairy Havarti cheese.
Fruit Newtons 5 of 9
There's something about these little square, fruit-filled cookies that make the perfect snack. They're filling, satisfying, and easy to eat. Try your hand at making this popular packaged snack yourself — it's easier than you think! You can use any kind of dried fruit for the filling, or even stir in your favorite jam instead of applesauce. Here's the recipe I used, which happens to be Paleo- and allergy-friendly. You can easily sub whole wheat or all-purpose flour instead of the almond flour and honey instead of agave.
Photo credit: iStockPhoto
Pizza Rolls 6 of 9
These are perfect for kids to pop in their mouths as they walk through the door after a long day of school. Simply roll out a ball of dough or refrigerated crescent rolls into a large rectangle, then cut it into a series of small rectangles with a pizza cutter. Place a small amount of low-fat mozzarella string cheese and turkey pepperoni on the edge of each piece of dough, and then roll it up. Pinch the ends to keep the filling tucked inside. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 minutes or until dough is thoroughly cooked.
Cookies and Milk 7 of 9
You can't get any more classic than good, old-fashioned cookies and milk for an after-school snack. Make this treat a little bit healthier by making low-sugar oatmeal cookies. You can even add dried fruit or nuts to make them a little heartier. To mix things up, try serving these cookies with a glass of homemade almond milk. Make a chocolate version by stirring in a little cocoa.
Here's a vegan oatmeal cookie recipe that we love to use. Feel free to sub an egg for the flax seed and regular butter for the vegan butter.
Yogurt Popsicles 8 of 9
Here's another easy one your kids are sure to give two thumbs up! Pour Greek yogurt into popsicle molds with your favorite fruit, and let them freeze overnight. Pull them out after school for a snack that's not only yummy but fun to eat. Choosing a plain Greek yogurt and adding your own fruit will help keep the sugar content down because many flavored versions use added sugar as an ingredient. These frozen pops pack a fruity yet creamy flavor combo of orange, blackberry, and vanilla.
Almost Instant Mac & Cheese 9 of 9
There's nothing quite like a box of macaroni with powdered cheese. I can't tell you how many times I have eaten an entire box myself after school. Instead of sticking with the boxed variety, try your hand at this homemade version. It's just as easy — maybe easier — than the kind in the box.
Here's how to make it: Place 1/2 cup pasta and 1/2 cup water in a soup bowl or giant mug. Heat in the microwave for 2 minutes at a time, stirring in between. Continue heating until pasta is cooked, about 4-6 minutes. When pasta is finished, stir in 1/4 cup grated cheese and 2 Tbsp milk. Return to the microwave for 1 minute or until cheese melts. Stir until it's creamy! Make it even healthier by using whole wheat pasta or stirring in some chopped broccoli florets. I used gluten free duck-shaped pasta, one of my best finds to date!
You could also use this method with some tiny O-shaped pasta and marinara sauce to make a fresher version of your favorite canned spaghetti snack.
Photo credits: Heather Neal unless otherwise noted.
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