Safe and Healthy Afterschool Snacks
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You know you are getting to Fall when you start to see the yellow school buses on the road. With the start of the school year, family can be faced with busy schedules and needs for quick safe snacks to have on hand to tie our children over until dinner.
We need to keep food safety in mind anytime we are preparing food. Here are some tips to help with planning for snacks that are safe and healthy.
- Have designated places for backpacks and bags so that children do not leave them on tables, counters or other food surfaces since they have been on floors and other places picking up germs throughout the day.
- Make sure that children know what foods leftover from lunch are safe to eat later. Most of the ice packs in lunch boxes will get warm as the day goes on and may not keep the food cold until after school. Any food that needs to stay cold or hot, should be thrown away, if not eaten during lunch.
- Remind your children to wash their hands when they get home before getting something to eat. If they plan to eat on the bus or before getting home, send them with some handwipes or sanitizers to use before getting their snack.
- If your child is alone after school, you can have some designated area in the refrigerator with snacks ready to eat. Remind them to return what is not eaten to the refrigerator for later so it doesn’t go bad.
- Keep refrigerators cleaned out of older leftovers that may be unsafe at this point to eat, so they don’t accidently eat something that could make them sick.
- You can wash and prepare fruit and vegetables such as carrots, peppers, or celery for a quick, easy and healthy snack.
- Prepackage snacks in packages or containers in the usual amount your child likes to eat, so they can just grab them and not have to deal with larger bags or containers and risk leaving them out or getting their hands all in the foods if others will also be eating them.
- Teach older children to use a food thermometer to check for safe reheating temperatures of leftovers or frozen foods used for snacking. Remind them to read instructions on the packages and that the microwave may reheat unevenly and to let most foods stand for 1 – 2 minutes after heating.
Check out NC State Homegrown videos and articles that have lots of tips on packaging snacks and lunch as well as healthy choices: Back-to-School Snacks and Lunch-Packing Hacks
Many of these prepared snacks can be grab-and-go foods between sports or other activities as we move through the busy schedules our families have and keep children from the mood swings that can occur when they are hungry.