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If the kids are coming home from school ready to ransack the cupboards like they’ve never seen food before and you want to direct them towards something fresh and homemade, don’t worry. You don’t have to do the food prep work yourself. Bigger kids can handle things like microwaves, toasters, and air fryers but if yours aren’t ready to cook for themselves, they can still assemble chilled and fresh foods into something that’s hearty and customized to their own tastes. We have some ideas to share for quick and easy after school snacks they can make for themselves if you provide access to the ingredients!
Yogurt Parfaits

  • plain yogurt
  • pre-washed berries or grapes
  • pre-cut kiwi, bananas or apples
  • granola or whole grain cereal
  • chocolate chips, shredded coconut, sprinkles
  • a bowl, a spoon and a napkin

Yogurt parfaits can satisfy a sweet tooth and fill a tummy better than candy. With the simple ingredients above on hand and ready to go, hungry kids can assemble their parfaits fast and make them as large or as small as they want. Pre-portioned ingredients can help them learn about measurements and keep them from piling on more than they can eat. Bonus ingredients like sprinkles and chocolate chips can add a little pizazz on special days.

Mini Pizzas

  • sliced bagels, Texas toast, or biscuits
  • plain pizza sauce
  • shredded or sliced mozzarella
  • pepperoni, sausage crumbles or other protein
  • chopped or sliced veggies
  • a tray or cutting board for prep
  • toaster oven or air fryer
  • a plate and a napkin

Kids seem to be born craving those little frozen pizza rolls. Of course, those kinds of prepared snack foods can get rather expensive—especially if your kids’ friends are stopping on the regular. Give them the ingredients to make their very own mini pizzas and they might just forget all about those frozen things for a while. Mini pizzas are a great way to use all kinds of ingredients like day-old bagels or biscuits, leftover ground beef or hot dogs, and chopped veggies from the week’s meals. The kids can assemble their mini pizzas any way they like and with any ingredients they like and then pop it into a toaster heated to about 400° until the cheese is melted.

PB&J Energy Bites

  • 1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1 c. rolled oats
  • 2 Tbsp flaxseed meal
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 c. dried fruit
  • a baking sheet for prep
  • measuring utensils
  • mixing bowl
  • a bowl or plate and napkin

These no-bake energy bites put an updated spin on the traditional childhood favorite peanut butter and jelly sandwich. This is an excellent recipe for learning how to use measuring cups and spoons and it’s very customizable. Use any nut butter, any dried fruit, and choose gluten free oats if you have that dietary need. The flaxseed and chia seeds can be excluded, just add a little more oats to ensure the bites have the consistency of a protein bar—not too sticky soft, but not dry and crumbly either. Assembly is easy! Once all the ingredients are combined, pop the mixture in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes. Once chilled, hand roll into bite-sized balls.
Before setting your kids off to do any food prep work—even just for themselves—make sure you teach them about maintaining good hygiene and a clean workspace. They need to work on clean counters with clean tools and clean hands. Then the final product should be served with clean hands (again—it’s impossible to wash hands too much when working with food!) on clean dishes with clean utensils and a fresh napkin. While they’re developing self-reliance around food, they can build good kitchen work habits, too.