“How was your day?” you ask your child after school. Rather than hearing a funny recess anecdote or story about a tough test, she murmurs back, “I’m hungry”. School days are long, and if your child participates in after-school activities, they’re even longer. Busy kids need plenty of fuel to keep their bodies and minds going.
“Considering most kids get just 20 minutes to eat lunch, and some as early as 10:30 in the morning, after-school hunger becomes a big problem,” says Laura Fuentes, cookbook author, food blogger and founder of MOMables.
Fuentes suggests five simple tips to help fight after-school hunger and keep kids going until dinnertime.
1. Plan Ahead
Adding extras to lunch keeps things interesting for kids, plus helps them feel full for longer. Plan ahead to keep hunger pangs at bay all day. Think about including frozen smoothies, a warm can of vegetable soup, or a variety of dried or fresh fruit.
2. Have portable snacks ready
A balanced snack that can be eaten on-the-go is a life saver. Pack the pantry with wholesome options that both parents and kids love. Additionally, don’t overlook fresh fruit that is both healthy and portable.
3. Pack a balanced lunch
Balancing the lunchbox can help ensure kids stay satiated longer. Make sure to include protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables in every lunch you pack. Think about dividing the foods sent to school in multiple containers so your child can eat during different break periods.
4. Make a wholesome breakfast
Many kids come home starving because they haven’t eaten enough to fuel their day. Making breakfast part of your morning routine is essential for setting kids up for success.
5. Rule out thirst
“Since thirst can often masquerade as hunger, it’s important to have water available at all times,” Fuentes says. Try tucking an extra water bottle in your kid’s backpack and offer a cup immediately when they get home. To encourage kids to drink more water, add a touch of flavor and color by placing fresh orange slices or berries inside their cup.