ADVICE

The ultimate guide to healthy after-school snacks for kids

Kids running home after school

Looking for healthy, after-school snacks that satisfy without spoiling dinner? Dietitians Anna Debenham and Alex Parker from The Biting Truth have the science-backed answers.

Nothing quite compares to the hunger of a child after school. You know how it goes: they arrive home, dump their bags and fix themselves a big bowl of cereal or graze all afternoon, leaving no appetite for dinner. Or perhaps you’re stuck in a rut and looking for new and tasty ideas to add to the healthy snack roster. With kids about to head back to school after the long summer break, we share our easy guide to after-school snacks that require minimal or no preparation but keep little tummies satisfied until dinner.

Monday: Yoghurt + fruit

Yoghurt delivers the protein in this pairing, while the fruit supplies the fibre. Flavoured yoghurts tend to be high in added sugars so we recommend using a plain, Greek-style yoghurt. If your child is used to flavoured yoghurts, try stirring some fresh berries through plain yoghurt for a DIY-flavoured yoghurt. Any fruit will work — banana, stone fruit, passionfruit, apple — so try something new each week to keep things exciting and give variety to your little one’s diet.

Tuesday: Hummus + raw veggie sticks

Hummus is a dip made from chickpeas, a legume that’s a source of both protein and fibre. Paired with raw veggie sticks — carrots, cucumbers, capsicum, celery (all the cs!) — this nutritious and delicious snack is loaded with fibre, vitamins and antioxidants. Pre-cut veggie sticks at the start of the week, then store them in air-tight containers in the fridge for healthy grazing. Give homemade hummus a go, too, or pick up a store-bought version that has less than 400mg sodium per 100g.

Wednesday: Canned fish + crackers

A small can of tuna or salmon is a rich source of essential fatty acids, which is essential for optimising brain function — vital for growing kids! Fish is also high in hunger-busting protein. Rather than brine or oil, we recommend fish canned in springwater as the healthier option. Some high-fibre wholegrain crackers are the perfect accompaniment — no cutlery needed! The higher the wholegrain content the better, so check the ingredients list and choose a packet that lists whole grains first. A hard-boiled egg is another good protein-packed topping for crackers.

Thursday: Milk + nuts

Nothing beats a cool glass of milk on a hot afternoon. Or a warm mug on a winter’s day! As well as protein, milk is a rich source of calcium, a nutrient important for developing strong, healthy bones. Nuts, on the other hand, are a bit like chickpeas in that they contain both protein and fibre — win-win!

Fun fact: peanuts are actually a type of legume, just like chickpeas. There are plenty of nuts available to taste test, but we recommend the unsalted varieties. If your children aren’t fans of eating whole nuts, turn this snack combo into a nutritious smoothie by blending a cup of milk with a small banana and a spoonful of peanut butter. Yum!

Friday: Cheese + crackers

What better way to close out the week than with cheese and biscuits? Parents can get in on this one, too, perhaps with a glass of red wine while getting dinner underway. Like milk, cheese is another source of both protein and calcium, and you could opt for a hard cheese like cheddar, or a fresh cheese like ricotta. Again, we recommend choosing crackers that are high in whole grains to help boost your kids’ fibre intake — delish and nutrish!

Mix and match

Pair the following sources of protein and fibre to create a healthy snack combo your kids will love. These are great choices for adults, too!

Step 1: Pick a source of protein

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 small tub (170g) Greek-style yoghurt
  • 1 small can reduced-salt baked beans
  • 1 handful (30g) mixed nuts/seeds
  • 2 slices (40g) cheese
  • ¼ cup hummus
  • 1 cup edamame
  • ¼ cup (25g) roasted chickpeas
  • 1–2 tablespoons nut/seed butter
  • 1 boiled egg
  • 1 small (95g) can tuna or salmon in springwater

Step 2: Pair with a source of fibre

  • 1 piece fresh fruit (banana, apple, pear, nectarine)
  • 1 cup raw veggie sticks (carrots, capsicum, celery)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 handful (30g) mixed nuts/seeds
  • 4–6 wholegrain crackers (Vita-Weats or Ryvitas)
  • 1–2 tablespoons nut/seed butter
  • 1 slice wholegrain toast
  • 1 cup plain popcorn
  • 1 small can reduced-salt baked beans
  • ¼ cup (25g) roasted chickpeas
  • 1 cup edamame

The right balance

Snacks are a great way to maintain energy levels, and the trick to a satisfying snack is the winning combo of protein and fibre. These nutrients keep you feeling full for longer, minimising the urge to graze. Protein is also super-important for your child’s growth and development, while fibre keeps bowels regular and feeds the gut good bugs. Just like an after-school snack sommelier, we’ve paired sources of protein and fibre to give you five super snacks for the Monday-to-Friday school week. All you have to do is stock the fridge and pantry!

First published: Feb 2022
Last updated: February 15, 2022

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