Basically, I find snacks overrated. When Ella, especially, was really young, I rarely gave her those mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks, mostly because then she wouldn’t eat her meals. Over the years, I’ve found that the best way to ensure my kids eat a healthy lunch (or dinner) is to minimize what I feed them in between meals. Of course, since I rarely say “never”, they have certainly eaten snacks at playgroup, and on those few mornings they attended preschool, and I did bring fruit and small things like rice crackers to parks, etc., but “snack time” was not a regular part of our routine. Now, they rarely snack on a regular basis, although we did have the cake + milk routine for a while, Sometimes, when Ella has a early soccer or softball practice, we make a small, quick smoothie before she heads out the door. But just as often, we don’t snack after school.
This, of course, doesn’t keep Finn from asking for food when he’s home with me, and I still don’t want to feed him things that will kill his appetite for lunch. Nor does it keep him from foraging for whatever he can find to satisfy his sweet tooth. But I want to teach him to eat in moderation, and to eat (mostly) healthy things. So I keep some crackers in the house, but on shelf that the kids can’t reach without climbing, and most of the time, our cookie selection is embarrassingly poor. I often hide the my chocolate bar, so the husband doesn’t eat it all at once–and for the most part, we eat everything, slowly, in small amounts. For instance, the kids’ chocolate Easter Bunnies? Still sitting in a bowl on our hutch. The Halloween candy rarely gets eaten in total, & the same goes for the Valentine’s day candy. Certainly, I have found both of them, high on the shelves in our pantry, pulling down the peanut butter crackers. And I have found a mysterious hole in the marshmallow bag and 1/2 the contents missing. (For which they also must scale the pantry shelves, which was entirely Finn’s doing.) And I did discover both of them, huddled behind the pantry door a year ago, eating raw oats. (Really, I do feed them. ) But mostly, they’re good about asking. I think.
All of this is to say that my philosophy is to keep a good range of mostly healthy stuff within reach of the kids, so when Finn (or Ella) goes foraging, they have a range of things to choose from, but none of them are really going to ruin the next meal. We always have: cheeses, nuts, dried & frozen fruit, lots and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables (carrots and ranch or thousand island dressing is really popular when we have it). Whatever’s in season stays out on the table. (I am waiting impatiently for those cherries….) They take oranges off our tree in the winter, and tomatoes off the plants in the summer. Sometimes we have yogurt. The upshot is that they get the power to make decisions, & I can give them some freedom. So, yesterday, when Finn came out of the pantry with a bag of peanuts and another of almonds, I was happy to supply the remainder of the bag of raisins and dried cranberries and the rest of the pistachios:
I let him mix away.
And he munched happily.
Then we played marbles. And ate more peanuts.