This is a snapshot of a typical day at our house:
(While I’m doing a load of laundry) “Mommy, I’m hungry!”
(While I’m scrubbing the toilet) “Mommy, I’m hungry!”
(While I’m exercising) “Mommy, I’m hungry!”
(While I’m in the bathroom, shower, or otherwise momentarily indisposed) “Mommy I’m sooo hungry!”
(While I’m washing dishes… right after breakfast/lunch/dinner) “Mommy, I’m sooo hungry I’m going to starve and die if you don’t feed me unreasonably colossal amounts of food right noooooooooooow!”
It’s enough to drive a crazy person even crazier.
I’ve approached the situation from numerous angles. Here is what I’ve tried:
- “No” = Fail
- “No” + trying to reason with a 3 and 4 year old that they just ate and shouldn’t be hungry = Fail
- “At least wait until I’m off the toilet/done paying bills/have washed the bleach off my hands” = Fail
- Allowing my children liberal access to the fridge = Fail (you’d think this would work, but they just whined that they couldn’t find anything to eat and hounded me to find them a snack)
I was ready to throw in the towel and set up a permanent residence in my kitchen, since it was becoming apparent that I wasn’t allowed to leave it lest my kids become hungry and need another snack. But in a wonderful twist of fate, I came across a photo that someone posted on Facebook of a Tupperware full of snacks. The caption indicated that they fill the Tupperware each day with a variety of healthy snacks and leave it in an accessible place in the fridge for their child to graze on throughout the day. THIS! This was the answer to my conundrum. I wish I could find the original source and give credit where credit is due, but I can’t seem to hunt it down. So to the genius who passed along this life saving idea: Thank you, you are golden.
So how do you set up a snack box for your children? First, find a non-breakable container that will hold a few assorted snacks. I used plastic food storage containers from Ikea, but you could use Tupperware, a small shoe box, brown paper bags, lunch boxes or sacks, or even those plastic takeout containers.
Next, pick snacks. I take advantage of my children’s grazing habits to fulfill the fruit and vegetable guidelines, knowing that they’re more likely to nibble on a veggie if it’s at their leisure rather than when it’s a requirement on their dinner plate. I use a “1 fruit/2 veggies/1 other” formula to decide what goes into our snack boxes. Here’s a list of possible options for creating your own snack box:
apple or pear slices
berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, etc)
stonefruit (ie peach, plum, nectarine, etc)
dried fruit (apricots, apples, mangoes, banana chips, etc)
baby carrots or carrot sticks
frozen peas or green beans
tomato slices or cherry tomatoes
celery with nut butter or cream cheese
goldfish or other small crackers
granola or granola bar
veggie straws or pretzels
nuts and raisins or dried cranberries (trail mix)
hard boiled egg
cheese cubes, slices or string cheese
sunflower or pumpkin seeds
*For children who are apprehensive about eating plain raw veggies, you can include something tasty for dipping:
hummus or other bean dip
cream cheese or sour cream mixed with herbs
peanut butter dip
The containers in the photo above are silicone baking cups that I picked up at Bed Bath and Beyond. They’re the perfect size for holding little people portions of food. No worries if you don’t have those, you can use little sandwich baggies or any other small food container you might have. I’ve also recently stumbled upon bento lunch boxes that would be perfect for snack boxes and eliminate the need for using individual snack containers.
You’ll want to find a spot in the fridge that is easily accessible for the kids so they can grab and go without hounding you as you’re
honing your inner Grammy Award winning superstar shaving your legs in the shower. Or, you know, pooping.
Lastly, sit down with your children and tell them that if they’re hungry in between “designated feeding times” (yes I run my home like a zoo, mwuahahaha) they can help themselves to whatever is in their snack box without having to ask. Explain that they can eat that food whenever they want, but when it’s gone it’s gone. So if they eat it all by 10 in the morning they’re going to have to starve in silence until lunch, regularly scheduled snacktime and/or dinner, because they’ve been pre-warned of the consequences of overindulging. I guarantee you the first couple of times they might excitedly gobble up all those snacks faster than you can blink, and then come to you 5 minutes later with tears of hunger streaming down their cheeks, begging for more food. Don’t cave in to their wily demands. Slowly but surely they’ll learn the concept of self-regulating and only eating as much as they need to at a given moment.
Try incorporating healthy snack boxes into your daily routine if your little ones are perpetually hungry food hounds like mine. I promise you’ll start hearing less of the “H” word in no time.
On a side note, this whole snack box idea has gone over so well with the kids that I might start making one for myself. As a stay at home mom the fridge has become a regular haunt, as well as my own best friend/worst enemy. Having pre-portioned healthy snacks at my fingertips might just help keep my boredom/mindless snacking habits in check.
What healthy snacks would you fill your snack box with? Share with us in the comments section below!