Summer Sanity Saver: How to Deal with Hungry, Snack-Y Kiddos
Today, I'm sharing a tip that's been incredibly helpful in my house with young kids, and has saved my sanity from the never-ending requests for snacks. I would be in the kitchen all day, unwrapping things, cutting up celery sticks and washing grapes if it were up to them. So, in an effort to give myself a breather and to foster a little self-sufficiency in my kids, I decided to dedicate one of the bottom drawers in our refrigerator solely to foods that they can grab and eat on their own, while I sit back and sip a cocktail.
Kidding on the cocktail part.
Here's my advice for making a kids' snack drawer successful in your home! Now that it's summer and they'll be around more, inevitably asking for food every 30 minutes, I thought this would be pretty timely.
1. Prep all the snack foods in advance.
Do this immediately upon arriving home from the grocery store, if you can muster the strength. Cutting up all the fruits and veggies, portioning everything out, washing, re-packaging, and other prep could take up to 30 minutes, but the time and sanity you’ll save throughout the week will be totally worth it. I do this once a week.
2. Cut up foods small enough to be safe for the youngest eater in your home.
If you’ve created a drawer for your older kids, make sure the food is still cut up small enough for the littlest scavengers to be safe. That way you can have peace of mind if they’re out of sight.
3. Make your kids ask for permission.
Just because they have a drawer dedicated to easy snacking doesn’t mean they don’t still have to ask, first. If you have prepared dinner and are worried about them ruining their appetite, kindly remind them that dinner is on the way and you’d like for them to wait.
4. But say yes more often than not.
This is the key to making the drawer work for you. I’ve come to the realization that if my kids fill up on the healthiest foods in our home (which is ALL I put in their drawer), I’m not too concerned about whether or not they eat their entire plate clean at the dinner table. It’s actually healthier for all of us to eat smaller meals and healthy snacks throughout the day than it is to wait until we feel very hungry to eat. I will say, there’s some give-and-take to this, like when they ask for food particularly close to a main meal (which I mentioned in point 2). But I’ve found that they’re typically still hungry at mealtimes -- at least hungry enough to try a little bit of everything I’ve made, which they’re always strongly encouraged to do.
5. Store finger foods in containers that your kids can open, themselves.
You could even pre-portion out plastic baggies of fruits or veggies. They’ll be easier for your kids to open, and you can have peace of mind about portion control.
6. ONLY stock the kids’ drawer with healthy foods that you won’t mind them filling up on.
I don’t add fruit chews, pretzels, processed snacks, or other things that could hurt their little tummies if they eat too much.