“Make-ahead” recipes are HOT on social media, from Pinterest to food blogs, and we totally get why. With a new school year approaching, you’re going to have a lot on your plate. To help you plan ahead, we’ve compiled a list of make-ahead snack ideas that kids can grab easily after school, so you can focus on the things you’d rather be doing besides making snacks:
Make-Ahead Salads and Slaws
Preparing a salad or slaw on the side? Make extra for dinner and save the leftovers for a no-fuss snack the next day.
For a green salad or slaw, try butter lettuce, shredded green and purple cabbage, chopped romaine or baby kale. Wash ahead of time for convenience, or buy pre-washed and chopped at the grocery store. Now add in your favorite dressings or dips to make a slaw.
Pasta salads are another great snack that keep well for several days. Opt for whole grain pasta with fun shapes like bow ties (farfalle), tubes (macaroni or penne), or spirals (fusilli or rotini). Then add in chopped sautéed or grilled veggies. You can even purchase the grilled variety frozen and reheat. Bean pastas made with chickpeas are tasty too!
Keep it Colorful
A variety of colorful fruit or veggies makes for a nutritious and eye-catching dish, and kids will love customizing their colorful bowl. Add a pop of red or orange with sliced or diced bell peppers, whole cherry tomatoes, strawberries, mandarin oranges, sliced red apples or shredded carrots. You can’t go wrong with more greens! Try thinly sliced zucchini and cucumber, diced avocado, sliced green apple, or raw chopped broccoli. Create fun noodle-like shapes using a vegetable spiralizer with zucchini, squash or beets.
Add Some Variety
Avoid repetition with toppings by rotating nuts and seeds.
Nuts, like almonds or walnuts, add a protein-packed crunch. Walnuts contain healthy fats and plant compounds that help protect against heart disease and certain types of cancer. Try toasting sunflower seeds or pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds) in a skillet, toaster oven or oven for a flavorful crunch with added fiber. For even more protein, add a sprinkle of cheese.
Stale bread can be “recycled” into croutons: Just chop, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with your favorite herbs, and toast on a baking pan. Your kids will love them!
Dress It Up
For a quick and easy recipe, mix Greek yogurt with olive oil, lemon juice, a bit of sugar and chopped fresh or dried herbs. For an oil-based dressing, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Sometimes, I even add in hummus for a creamier texture to the slaws.
Make like a Veggie Ninja and Chop Away
I know some kids hate veggies. But if veggies are ready to go, kids are more likely to reach for them! Buy carrots, cucumbers, celery and bell peppers (as well as those apples, oranges, etc.) to slice. Store in plastic containers or individual baggies for easy grab-and-go snacks.
A fun way to spice up raw veggies is making kabobs! Each kiddo can customize their kabob with their favorite veggies, or parents can set different themes. Here are a few of our favorites:
Greek — Kalamata olives, cherry tomato, and a piece of ham or feta cheese. Add pre-cut cubes of cheese and lunchmeat like turkey and ham slices for extra satiety.
Tomatoes, green bell pepper, roasted red peppers (from the jar) or artichoke hearts (from the can).
For bonus points, you can make dips ahead of time. Mix a couple of tablespoons of sunflower seed butter into Greek yogurt for a sweet and nutty dip kids will love. A peanut or almond butter will work well too!
Feeling extra organized?
Make a snack menu for the week of what’s available so kids can pick and choose. Get the kids involved by letting each one pick a snack item for the week. Save some time and have them help you make it too! You can avoid the “I’m hungry!” cry by always having a stash of snacks for the kiddos.
With a little planning and foresight, prepping snacks ahead of time frees up your packed schedule. You’ll appreciate the time spent not making snacks.