School’s out and snacking is…constant. Are your kids eating all day long? These healthy summer snack solutions will help you deal with the summertime snacking struggle.
School Versus Summer Snacking
During the SCHOOL YEAR, my girls follow a very set snacking schedule. For us, that means I pack an afternoon snack for Ellie to eat at school (her lunch was at 10:30am) and an aftercare snack for Frances. These snack foods usually are a piece of fresh fruit, some popcorn, a bag of chips, or maybe a granola type bar of some sort. Some days these snacks can hold them over until dinner. At other times, they are ravenous and I find myself trying to put together a meal at 4:30pm! Still, once they eat, they’re good to go.
During the SUMMER, it turns into a SNACKING FREE FOR ALL. Good eating habits go rogue. I know I’m not alone because I hear you complaining on Facebook or texting me saying, “My kids are about to eat me out of house and home!” “If my kids ask for a snack one more time, I am going to scream!” is another common text. And in our house, I find myself wanting to beat my head against a wall because the girls ask for a “snack” as soon as we finish dinner.
Snacking Gone Wild!
During the summer, we’ve no sooner woken up that the girls start asking me for a snack. Not breakfast. A snack. Or, as Frances likes to say in a very drawn out voice, “snahhhhhhck.” Because I’ve discovered that summertime means less routine and more mindless (make that ENDLESS!) snacking, I’ve shared my favorite healthy snacking tips to help tame the snack attacks.
Summer Snack Solutions
1. Set a Snack Limit
Well duh, you say, but hear me out. At the beginning of summer, we sat down to plan our summer bucket list and also talked about what life (and meal/snack time) would look like at home. I explained to them that Mommy was not going to spend her summer in the kitchen all day cooking and making snacks. We came up with the idea of two to three healthy snacks during the day (usually between breakfast and lunch, between breakfast and dinner and after dinner if it wasn’t too late).
Work with your children to create a list of easy snacks (both healthy and treats) and rotate them out each week. Go to the grocery store or farmers’ market and shop together. Be sure to plan for fresh summer produce that you can purchase and prep together together.
It may take a little while to adjust the snacks and snack times to their schedules. Look at when they may need a heartier more filling snack like a Sunflower Seed Butter and Strawberry Wafflewich or when an string cheese and a slice of deli roast beef will suffice. And, of course, allow for flexibility. Because who doesn’t want ice cream and homemade popsicles in the summer?!
2. Set a Snack Schedule
Don’t you love the image above of the snack schedule! Is that not SO true! Just like I shared in tip #1, create a summer meal and snack schedule to help set expectations. Bored children often turn to snacks as a means of entertainment so use a snack schedule to your advantage. If it is one hour past lunch and your kiddos are already asking for a snack, point out that snack time isn’t until 3pm and offer some water and a new activity instead.
It is important to be aware that your child’s rhythm may be “off” so be willing to adapt accordingly. If your child was used to sitting most of the day at school and now he is swimming and playing most of the day, you need to be sure to offer more food at meal and snack time to accommodate.
3. Make Snack Baskets
This idea also spins off of tip #1 but is good for children who are hungrier at certain times of day versus others. Let each child create a snack basket placing their snacks for the day in the pantry or fridge. Then allow them to get creative! I love finding a quick snack to make whether that be a simple snack recipe like these Apple Cinnamon Energy Balls or just ingredients like orange slices or other single ingredients assembled in a bag.
Allow your child to eat freely (yes, this goes against #2 but hear me out) according to his/her hunger cues. Giving this option encourages listening to his/her body as well as independence. Just make sure your child knows that when the snacks are gone, they’re gone. And again, this may take a little bit of time to figure out since hunger may be different in the summer vs the school year.
And yes, there is room for fun–I’m a mom after all! Plus, mid-afternoon sprinkler parties call for fruity popsicles!
4. Up Their Hydration
Each night, the girls refill their favorite water bottles and pop them in the fridge. When the boredom-hangries hit the next day, I grab them from the fridge and encourage them to drink. On top of the fact that they are sweating more than usual and need more fluid, staying hydrated also helps to cut back on feeling hungry.
Have some fun with plain water by adding freshly cut strawberries or lemon wedges. The girls love their kid-friendly fruity “spa” water and they learn how sometimes your body is actually craving water, not food. Plus, drinking water is SO good for them!
5. Teach Them Snack Prep
When I’m handing out crackers or cheese left and right, I often turn the snack prep over to the girls and let them wash, peel, and slice vegetables for dipping. I’ve found when the girls get bored, they turn to the kitchen for an easy activity fix. So I put them to work making healthy food and creating new snack ideas. There are so many easy snack recipes to make at home as well as easy snacks for kids to make on their own. For example, these Peanut Butter and Jelly Skewers are cute and easy for a filling snack between lunch and dinner and Frozen Yogurt Fruit Pops are delicious for breakfast for a cool, sweet summer dessert. Teaching children to eat (and create) fun food combos also helps pick eaters be more willing to try new things.
6. Lock It Up!
Okay, so maybe this one a little bit of a joke but sometimes you’ve just got to set hard and fast parameters. If you’re at whit’s end trying to find a way to curb the constant snacking – especially on sweets – check out this crazy gadget! I think of it as a time-out spot for chocolate chip cookies, candy, anything! The bad news, there’s no override code, so be careful what you wish for!
Note: This post contains affiliate links.
How do you handle the snacks in the summer? I would love to hear your tips!!
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Need Healthy Snack Ideas? Let me help!
If you’re looking for school or summer snack ideas, I’ve got you covered! This list shares very simple nut-free snack ideas to keep you covered all summer especially for camps and sports teams that have parameters around allergens. You can download your free guide here and be sure to check out 50 School-Approved Nut-Free Snacks for more info.