12 After-School Snacks
By Jenna Braddock, MSH, CSSD, RD, ACSM-CPT, a mom and consultant sports dietitian who works with Clif Bar & Company
The ideas and suggestions written below are provided for general educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice or care. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider before beginning any physical fitness or health- and nutrition-related activity.
The back-to-school season is a welcomed structure to many families’ schedules. Summertime can certainly be fun, but it often comes with parents constantly pivoting to accommodate their kids’ looser schedules. When school is in session, life is more predictable — including meal and snack times.
When kids bust through the door in the afternoon, spirits and appetites are high. Feeding them a snack that helps boost their energy is a must, especially if you’re running off to another activity like sports or lessons. The real challenge for parents is finding snacks that do all that good while also being nutritious.
After-school snacks can be a powerful source of energy or a total bust that leads to the constant nagging of “I’m hungry!” In choosing the right snack for your child, it’s important to first consider what you need it to do for your kids.
If your crew will be heading out for an afternoon of practices or lessons, you need a snack that is easy to prep or grab and go. It’s also important that it gives kids energy from nutritious ingredients.
The time after school may be when you connect with your kids at home, whether doing homework or playing together. After-school snacks can become a part of this special time and even help satisfy rumbling bellies until dinner.
To help equip you for your after-school scenario, here are 12 after-school snacks that will fuel your kids’ activities or help curb hunger at home until dinner time.
Portable Snacks to Fuel After-School Activities
CLIF Kid Zbar®: These great-tasting energy snack bars are ideal for fueling kids’ moving bodies and active minds. Made with energizing whole grains from rolled oats and a good source of fiber,* they provide nutrition in delicious flavors like Iced Oatmeal Cookie and Chocolate Chip. Grab these bars to eat in the car on the way to your next after-school activity.
*Per 40g. Contains 4-5g total fat per serving.
Single-Serve Hummus Cups With Dippers: Single-serving dips are a super-easy, nutritious snack to take on the go. Provide kids with pretzels, whole-grain crackers, and/or fresh veggies to dip into hummus to give them the nutrients they need to power through practice.
Cheese Stick and Fruit: Grabbing a cheese stick and a piece of fruit on your way out of the house is a simple snack that provides great energy for kids. It’s also a fun snack kids can play with that won’t make a mess. Easy-to-peel tangerines, an apple, or a banana are all portable fruit options that don’t require any prep.
PB&J: The peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a classic food that’s also a great snack. Use thinly sliced bread made with whole grains to create the perfect after-school snack. Look for a 100% fruit spread or slice up fresh bananas or strawberries instead of jelly. Any nut or seed butter will work and provide energy for your kiddo. Sandwiches can be prepped ahead and wrapped in reusable wax food wraps for easy transport.
Pistachios and Dried Fruit: This may not be top of mind for a kid-friendly, after-school snack, but it should be! Pistachios are now widely available in a shelled version and in a variety of flavors, making them very portable without the mess of shells. They also have a surprisingly approachable flavor that kids enjoy. Pair them with your favorite dried fruit and you’ve got a perfect duo of nutrients to fuel their afternoon activities.
Dry Cereal: Cereal isn’t just for breakfast; it also makes for an awesome, portable snack. Look for brands made with whole grains and a good source of fiber, protein, and low sugar for the best option to fuel kids in their activities and provide important nutrients. Spend time scooping cereal into reusable, resealable bags on the weekends so you have a super-fast snack you can grab in a hurry during the busy week ahead.
At-Home Snacks That Satisfy Until Dinnertime
CLIF Kid Zbar® Protein: CLIF Kid Zbar Protein is a nutritious snack bar made with whole grains and protein that will satisfy kids’ hunger and keep spirits high. Made with organic rolled oats and no artificial flavors, this gluten-free snack is a perfect choice for an easy after-school snack. With flavors like Cinnamon Crunch and Chocolate Chip, it will always be a home run with kids too!
English Muffin Pizzas: This quick prep snack “recipe” is a fun, nutritious way to enjoy a favorite food as a snack. Start with whole-grain English muffins and spread pizza sauce on top. Then top with shredded mozzarella cheese (or non-dairy cheese) and your favorite toppings. Sliced olives or canned pineapple are two easy pantry items to try as toppings. Then bake on a baking sheet for about 5-8 minutes at 350°F, or until cheese is melted and bread is toasted.
Apple “Donuts”: This is a great snack for encouraging more fruit intake in your kids. Use an apple corer to remove the core, then slice widthwise to create apple rings. Kids can decorate their apple donuts with nut butter, yogurt, chopped nuts, dried fruit, cheese slices, or sprinkles. It’s the perfect mix of fun and nutrition to help tide kids over until dinnertime.
Dipped, Frozen Bananas: Try this fun fruit “popsicle” that’s an easy recipe for kids to make. Cut whole, peeled bananas in half and stick a popsicle stick into the cut edge. Dip or roll the bananas in yogurt, nut butter, or melted chocolate, then sprinkle with granola, chocolate chips, or crushed nuts. Lay on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze until hard. These can be easily prepped ahead to be ready to go at snack time.
Fruit Tostadas: Make a fun snack twist on a tostada by first baking small whole-wheat or corn tortilla in the oven at 350°F for 5-8 minutes. Let cool, then spread vanilla yogurt or cream cheese (regular or non-dairy) on top and layer with fresh-cut fruit like strawberries, pineapples, and blueberries. Kids can express their creativity by making patterns or shapes with their fruit.
Snack Quesadilla: Make a filling but not dinner-spoiling sized quesadilla by using small- to medium-size tortillas. Spread with refried beans and smashed avocado for a veggie option, and add shredded cheese if desired. Fold the tortilla in half and toast both sides in a skillet heated to medium heat and sprayed with nonstick spray. Let cool and slice. Dip quesadillas into salsa for additional flavor and veggies.
Turn after-school time into an awesome snack time with any of these easy and nutritious snack ideas. Your child will be ready to roll into after-school activities with energy or keep their bellies satisfied during an afternoon of homework together.