Have you heard it, sweet mommas? Is it haunting your dreams as well? It’s your pint-sized Quarantined Snack Monsters yelling, “Mom, can I have a snack?” (I cringed just typing that.)
The current snack demands in my house are out of control, and I bet they are in yours, too. Maybe it’s comfort eating during these strange times (I’m guilty as well). Or maybe it’s all the extra physical activities, like long family walks and epic bike rides we’re getting in. Whatever the reason, kids seem to be eating more than usual. For our sanity and to conserve our temporarily limited resources, these Quarantined Snack Monsters must be tamed.
My goal in taming the Quarantined Snack Monsters is not to limit my kids’ food intake; quite the opposite, actually. My kids have always been picky eaters (until the last 14 or so days), so I’m pretty pumped they have an increased interest in food and a capacity to eat more than usual. But the constant snack requests, and being subsequently chained to the kitchen, is driving me crazy. I don’t mind them eating more frequently. I just need to not hear about it every 1.2 seconds. A solution is required.
Daily Snack Baskets
Enter the Daily Snack Basket! It’s beautiful in its simplicity and has the potential to be a life and sanity saver. Every morning, I select a few snacks I know my kids will ask for at some point during the day, and I toss those snacks in baskets marked with their initials. Then I lay out the rules: “These are your snacks for the day. You can choose any of these snacks throughout the day, but when they’re gone, they’re gone.” That’s it. So easy, right??
Not only have Daily Snack Baskets freed up a ton of my time and mental energy, they have also empowered my kids to make their own choices. They’re even learning valuable life lessons, such as time and resource management. For example, if they front load too many snacks in the morning, they may have to go without their precious Teddy Grahams later in the afternoon. Through personal experience, I’ve noticed that my kids are less likely to melt down if they realize they made a decision that led to a less-than-desirable outcome, than if I were the one to impart the same information to them.
I keep my kids’ Daily Snack Baskets in the refrigerator because I include items that require refrigeration. This means their shelf-stable snacks may be chilled by the time they get to them, but they don’t seem to mind; I am not about that multiple-snack-baskets-in-multiple-locations life. I also keep their water bottles in the snack baskets so they always know where they can grab a drink at any time. There are unlimited refills on water, of course.
If you’re stumped on what to feed these suddenly ravenous Quarantined Snack Monsters, here’s a list of snacks I like to include in the rotation, depending on the selection I find at the grocery store. Some of these items come in single-serve packages, while I parcel others out into appropriate containers.
- Yogurt tubes
- String cheese
- Hummus with dippers (carrots, celery, pita, crackers)
- Fruit (grapes, apple slices, strawberries, bananas)
- Boiled eggs (pre-peeled)
- Trail mix
- Veggie Straws
- Graham crackers
- Fruit/granola bars
There is plenty of room for customization depending on your child’s specific dietary restrictions and personal preferences, and on how much time and effort you want to spend preparing the baskets each morning. My kids are 7 and 5 years old, so I offer the amount of snacks I think is appropriate for their ages without going overboard, and try to balance between healthy snacks (e.g., carrots and boiled eggs) and snacks that are more of an indulgence (e.g., chips). At the end of they day, they usually have at least an item or two left over, which I leave in the baskets for the next day. Waste not, want not, especially in this climate, ya know?
Ultimately, it’s about day-to-day survival right now, sweet mommas. If ever there was a time to throw any and everything at the wall to see what sticks, this is it. So throw those gosh-darn snacks in some baskets and let the kids figure it out from there. I think our pint-sized Quarantined Snack Monsters may just surprise us with how self-sufficient and resilient they really are.