It seems like no matter how much running around we do in the summer it still manages to get busier in the fall. For the parents out there, getting your youngsters prepared to go back to school is no small task, as I’m sure you already know. When your kids are still not quite old enough for school it means more rainy days inside, or on the go. Whether you are planning cold lunches for school or to take with you while running errands, having a game plan can really give you an advantage.
Buying prefabricated snacks and beverages for your kiddos can be very tempting to a modern family on the go. Don’t do it! Most of these items are not only pricey but loaded with chemicals and high fructose corn syrup. Finding healthy snacks that travel well is well within your reach. With a little creativity and planning, your kids will be happy and healthily fed.
This week I wanted to share some ideas and tips on how to maintain a fun assortment of healthy snacks to feed young growing minds and let them know you care. Using some of the same techniques that professional chefs do, you can prep your snacks days ahead. Instead of buying fruit cocktail for your youngster’s lunchbox, make your own. Set them up with a do-it-yourself ants-on-a-log kit that’s not only fun, but nutritious.
Preparing fruits and veggies
Cutting fruits and veggies for snacks ahead of time can really make your life easier. In our house, veggies consists of carrot, celery sticks, cucumber slices, snap peas, and cherry tomatoes.
Carrots and Celery can be cut into sticks and held in airtight containers full of cold water for up to three days.
Cucumbers are a little trickier, slice them 1/4-1/2 inch thick and place them in an airtight container covered with a damp paper towel.
Whole small veggies such as cherry tomatoes or snap peas will keep quite well if washed dried and stored in individual containers.
Pear, apples, and any fruit or veggie that tends to brown can kept longer than usual by submerging it in very cold acidulated water. You can make this by adding 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice to a quart of cold water. This will allow you to cut apple or pear slices the night before.
Fruit salad is a great way to get kids to eat fresh fruit and can be made a day or two ahead as well. Be sure to include something that has citric acid such as pineapple, oranges, or just squeeze a little lemon juice in.
Presenting healthy options to your kiddos
As we all know kids can be very picky when it comes to mealtime. Getting children excited about munching down their delicious and nutritious homemade snacks can become an art form.
Sandwiches can get a little old for kids at times but you can easily turn them into fun shaped lunch fare with cookie cutters. Choose your child’s favorite peanut butter, jelly, and bread combo and make it cooler by cutting it into fun shapes.
Lunchboxes are a great way to get kids involved in the process and make them feel like they have a special and individualized dining experience. I recommend taking them shopping for this and letting them have input picking it out. Everyone knows that lunch tastes much better when eaten from a Sesame Street lunch box.
Dipping is a really fun way for kids to eat their fruits and veggies. In our house this involves home made low-fat ranch dip or peanut butter/Nutella in a small reusable sauce cup. You can buy these sauce cups at the super market, they are handy for small amounts of sauce, toppings for salads, or snacks such as raisins. Packaging your own snacks this way is a greener and cheaper way to single serving size your little ones lunch.
Hopefully some of these tips are helpful and will help you find a little time for yourself and a few extra dollars at the end of the week. If you are unsure of what your kiddo likes or dislikes try asking them, or even involving them in the preparation. I found that participating gets them excited and can result in fuller bellies. When it comes to timing Sundays and Wednesdays should work with a lot of schedules but you should try to find what works best for you.
If you are looking for something to do with your kiddos here are some cool events listed on Brown Paper Tickets!
Saturday, September 21 I Choo Choo Soul with Genevieve! – Sherman, Texas Come see Disney Junior’s own Choo Choo Soul with Genevieve! live in the Kidd-Key Auditorium. The fourth edition of the Penn/Bright Entertainment-produced series follows the musical adventures of singer/train station manager Genevieve Goings and dancing/beatboxing engineer DC as they take kids to the jungle, the sea and magical locales while performing songs from classic Disney films including “Bare Necessities,” “Supercalifragalisticexpialidocious,” “Under the Sea” and “When You Wish Upon a Star.”
Saturday, September 21 I Kids Night Out Japantown- NINJA NIGHT – San Francisco, California YEEEEE HAWWW! Kids Nights Outs are back in action! Bring your child and their friends in for a romping fun time at Bay Jiu-Jitsu Japantown! Self-defense, games, jiu-jitsu, Nerf guns, active play, movies, pizza and more! This is a great fun time for experienced jiu-jitsu kids and absolute beginners.
Saturday, October 5 I Fun with Paint & Collage for Kids – Oakland, California In Handygal‘s well-equipped home studio you’ll find an extensive collection of fun and interesting papers, discarded books, and other “ephemera” (things like ticket stubs, labels, wrappers, and other cast-offs of daily life) that will spark your imagination. Handygal’s Pam Consear will show you how to stick these onto paper or a board, and combine them with acrylic (permanent, non-toxic) paint to create a one-of-a-kind piece of art to take home.
Saturday, October 12 I Peanut Butter and the Pen: Creative Food Writing For Kids – San Francisco, California This is “Take My Word For It!”‘s third season working with young writers at 18 Reasons. Come use all five senses, as well as plates full of adjectives, metaphors, and similes, to learn how to bring food to life on paper. Together we’ll explore the work of famous food writers, what different cultures eat, how to create food characters and more. Have fun sharing your work at the end of our session in a celebratory group reading.
Friday, October 18 I The Kids Are Y, Tasting and Benefit Auction – Sacramento, California The YMCA’s annual “The Kids Are Y, Tasting and Benefit Auction” will be held at the Masonic Temple in downtown Sacramento. Funds from the event provides year-round program support and scholarships for local kids who would like to participate in YMCA programs and activities but cannot afford the program fees due to financial hardship. “The Kids Are Y” will provide our guests with food and wine from local area restaurants and wineries, while placing bids on unique silent and live auction items.