What Can I Do About After School Snacking?

Updated on March 02, 2010
S.B. asks from New York, NY
19 answers

My two oldest children ages 10 and 8 attend school during the day. However, they get out late in the afternoon, so it is usually right at 4PM when they get home. They are always hungry at this time, and really it is almost dinner time anyway..... But so they won't "starve to death" they usually get a snack. Most of the time it is not as healthful of a snack as I would like. Being so close to dinnertime, they aren't usually extremely hungry by then. What do you suggest I do about the snacking?

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So What Happened?

Wow, thank you so much for all the responses! Someone asked me if they have afternoon activities. They do not. They have to be at school at 8:40AM and get out at 3:45PM. Weird hours, but that is why they get home so late.
I will take all the responses to heart. I am going to buy crackers and cheese, grapes, granola bars/cliff bars, etc... of course, not all at once or they will eat it all in two days!! ha ha!!
Thank you sooo much! You gals are awesome!

Featured Answers



answers from Portland on

In addition to having healthy foods available for snacks (previous ideas are good, and I'd add nuts to the list), the best way I've ever found to avoid eating unhealthy foods is not to bring them home from the grocery store. Will power comes and goes, while a bag of potato chips, box of cookies, or carton of ice cream sits there seductively until eaten.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Kids definitely need a snack after school. If you feed them a healthy snack but then they aren't hungry for dinner you could either push dinner back a little bit later or just accept that dinner will be a smaller meal for them and just cook less.

I used to give my kids a SMALL snack when they got home from school because I didn't want to ruin their appetites for dinner but then they would tell me they were starving and 5:00. My husband doesn't get home from work until 6:00 so I found myself feeding them dinner early and then we wouldn't eat as a family. I started giving them a more substantial snack when they got home at 3:30 and then they ate a smaller dinner but ate it at 6:15/6:30 with all of us. It has worked out much better for everyone.

Good luck,

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Tulsa on

Kids need more calories than adults. So when they eat before Noon and then they have a lot of activities afterwards all the calories they consumed at lunch are gone. When they come home from school they need a sustantial snack or a small meal. Something with whole grains or a good concentration of protein and grains. That way it will last longer and fill them up more with less.

If you feed them too early in the evening they will also need a snack before bed. In state Child Care Regulations we are not allowed to go beyond 3 hours to either feed a snack or a meal.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

My kids don't eat much, so when they are hungry, I feed them a real meal. At first, they had snacks (healthy) after school, but then were not hungry for dinner, but then were hungry at 8pm when I was thinking they should be getting ready for bed. Now I feed them 'dinner' at 4 pm and they can 'snack' at 7pm. They are skinny and it is so hard to get weight on them!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I have an 11 and 8 year old, who don't get home until around 4:00 some days as well, so I understand. Do you pick them up or do they ride the bus? I pick my kids up, so I always try to take a snack for in the car. And yes, they are voracious because they have lunch around 11:30 or something...

I try to be sure they eat something with protein in it... that is usually a little more filling than the "empty" calorie junk snacks like crackers and chips, etc. I like yougurt, cheese sticks, crackers with cheese cuts on them, apples with peanut butter, nuts, peanut butter cheese cracker packs... Another thing I will sometimes do is make popcorn. It takes a while for them to eat, and if they have already had something with protein, it makes them slow down enough to recognize that they aren't still starving...
On days my son goes straight to karate class from school, I send a pack of peanut butter crackers or trail mix with him in his backpack.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Pack them a snack, to take to school with them, and to eat when school lets out or at recess.
Lunch for kids in school is pretty early.. so between lunch time and 4:00.. it is a LONG time for them to go without food... and I don't blame them for feeling starved. Going so long without anything in them, can also affect blood sugar levels and cause kids to have poor concentration etc.
So a snack is important.

If they are getting out of school at 4:00... WOW that is a LONG day for a kid. I assume this is because they are in an after-school A+ sort of extended care/afterschool program? If so, usually these programs allow the kids to bring their own snacks and to eat them. Kids are super hungry after school... and then at after school programs too.

I would not make them wait until dinner for a "snack." They should be getting a snack, if possible, by having one at school in the afternoon before they come home. Instead of waiting until 4:00 to do so.
At this point, and time, a "snack" is not a "treat" or reward... it is just a pure simple biological need and for their body.
Kids generally DO need snacks... just like toddlers. It does help the body and helps a child from over-eating too or eating junk food.

All the best,

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Let them eat something. If they are in elementary school, this means they ate at 11:00 or 11:30.. they are starving.. I always had a small snack ready for my child when she got out of school then she would do her homework , play outside and then dinner..

Make sure you have healthy things for them even if it is a small bowl of non sugar cereal.
Peanut butter sandwich, peanut butter crackers, cheese and crackers, veggies with yogurt dip, Raisin toast with milk, Hard boiled egg, small Bean burrito, cheese sandwich.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

A. Let them have an afternoon snack from an assorted variety of things you have set out (maybe in a basket in the fridge or pantry). Explain they can have 1 to hold them over until dinner such as a string cheese, apple, granola bar, etc.

B. Tell them dinner is on it's way (assuming you eat at like 5pm) and set out pre-cut veggies and dip or something like an appetizer.

C. Let them eat whatever they want at 4pm then move dinner back to 630 or 7pm.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

You have some great ideas for snacks...definitely healthy options. I have to agree that they do need something to "tide them over". However, I'm not sure about other school districts, but our bus doesn't allow eating on the bus, so that may not be an option. (if a kids chokes, the driver can't assist them) If the snacks are waiting for them or if there's a special drawer or container in the fridge/cupboard that has approved foods for snacking before dinner, then they can help themselves.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I found my kids are needing protein around that hour. I try to have hard boiled eggs on hand, or sometimes they will toast one half of the 100 calorie bread rounds and spread almond butter or peanut butter on it. As long as dinner is on time...they are good. My daughter is better about fruit so if she still feels like she needs something she'll have an apple or something. My son on the other hand will carry on about being hungry right up till dinner - but he doesn't want any of the choices I offer him! Another thing they like is a flour tortilla with turkey or ham.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

my daughter is in first grade b/c they eat such an early lunch.. every day the teacher allows parents to pack a healthy snack for the kids to have in the afternoon.. maybe talk to the teacher.. what time is their lunch.. also costco sell cliff bars for kids called Z bars.. they taste really good and have some protein in them... my kids do often eat a smaller dinner and a larger healthy snack around 4pm.. apple slices that are pre cut from costco are great too.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Cheese and crackers, yogurt and a string cheese, apples with peanut butter, etc. Something that won't fill them up too much but take the edge off and is not packed with sugar. Hope this helps! I have an 8 year old too, so I know how they like to snack... (cookies, candy, etc.) Not good!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

We have similar hunger issues when I pick up my 6 year old daughter after full day of Kindergarten. Like many of your other answer writers, we usually I offer fruits or vegetables first (apples or bananas or baby carrots, washed and cut, reading to snack on) with protein (peanut butter, peanuts, almond). If she's still hungry, we eat some type of dairy (yogurt, cheese, milk or hot chocolate).

Occasionally, if I spend some time "cooking," we make one of our favorite "treats" for stack time: Mud Balls. No baking required, can be made with or without chocolate. Goes well with sliced apples. The recipe is online at http://heavenlyhomemakers.com/healthy-treat-for-today-mud....

Hope this helps!
- K.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

I have a 6 year old in school and, he too, comes home starving to death. I always have a plate of snacks on the table waiting for him. It's usually sliced fruit, nuts and cheese. He knows that's what he can have till dinner and don't ask me for anything else.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

You've gotten some great ideas. One thing that my kids love is homemade granola bars. They are a lot less expensive than store-bought ones, and I think they taste pretty great! Here is a link to the recipe I've used: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Jo-Anns-Power-Bars/Detail.aspx
My boys are allergic to milk, so we can't do the cheese that others mention. They love lunchmeat (by itself or on bread), I look at leftovers and see if I can use those for a snack, or cut up some fruit.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I am like this because I myself have afternoon classes and evening classes, so on those days after I get home in the afternoon i usually have half an apple with some peanut butter, or a handfull of almonds, or a small bowl of grapes, just something that will take the edge of the hunger pains. Sometimes i will even just eat a slice of cheese or a thing of string cheese. i hope this helps!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

All good ideas.
Another one is to give them a snack (banana, apple, raisins, dry fruits...) that they can take with them and have at school, around 3.



answers from New York on

Give them a snack for their backpack so they can eat as soon as school gets out. If they ride the bus then they can eat it on the bus on the way home. This way they are eating a snack at 3 and not 4 so close to dinnertime.



answers from Kansas City on

We try to only have a fruit or veggie for a snack before dinner. That way, if they fill up on the snack and don't want to eat much for dinner, at least they're filling up on good stuff, not crackers or chips, etc.

Some things to try-- fresh fruit (apples w/peanut butter!) or canned fruit, dried fruit (my kids LOVE pacific/california dried apricots because they are tart. Dried cherries are good too). Celery with peanut butter, carrots or broccoli with dip. My kids (ages 7 & 3) also love to snack on frozen peas and frozen corn-- like tiny popsicles. Or let them pick out something exotic at the grocery store to try-- mangos, star fruit, etc. The real fruit "leather" is also really good-- ours is near the organic produce section. Also browse around your local healthfood store to see what's available. I think if you made a special snack basket with a variety of things for them to choose from, they won't mind having something healthy instead of junk food, and they might actually enjoy trying some new things. Good luck!

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