Snacks are not evil. If you've ever been pregnant or nursing then you would certainly agree with me. Hunger might strike in the middle of the day or late at night and your body might genuinely need the nutrients it craves.
So what do we tell our kids? Oh yes, mommy can snack all day long but you need to wait until mealtime. Well, I tried that. And even though I believe in discipline and teaching children good habits, I realized that instead of taking away all of their snacks, (which I have tried) I simply needed to teach them how to snack.
Children learn by watching. So, if I am constantly sneaking chocolate, chips, cereal or other relatively unhealthy snacks throughout the day, then they will follow suit. If not now, when they move out on their own.
So instead of telling them, no snacks allowed, I try to stock the house with healthy (or at least my definition of healthy!) snacks in the house. Of course, I don't let them eat any snacks hour and a half before dinner but this is how we do it:
In the middle of the morning, they are allowed a snack and when they finish their schoolwork in the afternoon they get a snack. If they are still hungry in between then, they are only allowed to eat fruit or veggies. This shows me if they are really hungry or just in a snack-y kind of mood. Sometimes they will eat several apples or carrot sticks in a day but I figure it's teaching them good habits. So, when they get out on their own and they are hungry, they will opt for fresh fruit instead of a drive-thru burger!
This is what I usually keep in the house:
Cheese Sticks: I found these at Aldi the other day on sale of $.05 a piece. I was pretty excited and stocked up.
Stove Top Popcorn with Pink Himalayan Sea Salt: Need I say more? We don't do microwaves, so microwave popcorn is out. For the past 12 years we've simply cooked it on the stove and added some "healthy" salt and it tastes amazing.
Fresh Fruit: Oranges, strawberries and watermelon are usually seasonal but we almost always have apples, bananas and kiwi in our fruit bowl. Sometimes I'll splurge with a mango or two but those are gone pretty quickly in our house.
Frozen Fruit Smoothies: We have piles of blackberry bushes around here so the kids will usually pick a bunch and freeze them in the summer. This past year they also went blueberry picking with my husband so it's been awesome having those easily accessible to throw into smoothies!
Carrot Sticks: I just get the small bags of baby carrots for $.99 at Aldi. We go through these like candy.
Broccoli Crowns: Okay, so I do let the kids dip this in ranch, but I would rather them have this for an after school snack than a bag of chips or a candy bar.
Pita and Hummus: We eat this often. I seriously can't get enough of it. I used to make the hummus myself (and pita, but that has been a while) but now that they sell it at Aldi, well, I just pick it up there!
Fig Newtons: Not the healthiest snack out there but way cheaper than granola bars or fruit and grain bars, so it works for us.
Peanuts: A quick protein fix that I like to keep on hand.