Following a busy school day, your kids may need a quick snack since dinner may still be a few hours away. Use afternoon snack time as an opportunity to help tide them over while providing whole grains, dairy, healthier fats, and lean proteins.
Registered nutritionist and dietician Mary Alice Cain shares tips for prioritizing healthier snacking and stocking the kitchen with some help from Dollar General. With the kid-approved ingredients below, they’ll be satisfied until dinner — and so will you.
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1. Power up with peanut butter
According to Cain, peanut butter is a major pantry staple. With seven grams of protein per serving and a dose of good-for-you fats, it’s a reliable way to keep your little ones satisfied — especially if your family follows a vegetarian or vegan diet. “Clover Valley® Creamy Peanut Butter is a nice plant-based protein,” she says. Not only is it a go-to on toast, but, “you can also heat it up with a little bit of honey, chili sauce, apple cider vinegar, and soy sauce to make a great dip.”
2. Add new munchies into the mix
Snack time can be the perfect opportunity for kiddos to try new things in smaller doses. Encourage adventurous eating by letting them add a new item to the cart when shopping, such as fruits, cheeses, crackers, nut mixes, or popcorn. Good & Smart™ snacks are available exclusively at Dollar General and offer options like crunchy freeze-dried fruit and sweet-salty trail mixes.
3. Focus on healthier fats
According to the American Heart Association, dietary fats are essential for giving the body energy and supporting cell function. Cooking with extra-virgin olive oil is one way to incorporate omega-3 fatty acids, which promote brain development and can even improve mental health. “Drizzle Clover Valley® Olive Oil over popcorn for an after-school snack. It’s a good replacement for butter,” Cain says. “Another option is to top whole grain toast with olive oil, honey, and cinnamon.”
4. Cut fresh fruits and veggies in advance
Considering preparing for post-school snacking by washing, peeling, and cutting in-season fruits and vegetables at the beginning of each week. Pack and store them properly to prolong freshness. Carrots, celery, and apples can be kept fresh by storing them in cool water. Refrigerate strawberries and peppers in airtight containers with paper towels to help reduce moisture.
5. Consider dairy alternatives
“If your child has a dairy allergy or is lactose intolerant, almond milk is a nice alternative to dairy,” Cain says. She suggests using it in chia seed pudding, which is easy to make and full of healthier fats, protein, and calcium.
6. Stock up on grab-and-go snacks
For on-the-go afternoons that require running from one extracurricular activity to another, granola bars, trail mix, beef jerky, and dried fruit can be great backseat and sideline snacks. These munchies contain protein and/or fiber, key elements for snacks that stick with you.