No matter how much food I pack in my kids’ lunches, every day they come home from the bus famished. I’m lucky if I get a hug before I get a load of whining.

Many days I’m too busy finishing up work to prepare an after school snack. But every time I do get something together, I wonder why I don’t do it every afternoon. Just as they open their mouths to whine, I pop in a healthy snack. Somehow, that makes whatever was bothering them seem not as bad.

And that, my friends, is worth every minute of prep time.

Below are some of our favorite quick snacks.

(Shh! Your kids won’t know there’s spinach in here unless you tell them!)
1 cup vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup milk
handful of fresh spinach
1T real maple syrup
1/2t peppermint extract
1/4 cup chocolate chips

Blend all the ingredients in the blender until smooth. The chocolate chips often settle to the bottom, so we eat this with a spoon.

Screen shot 2013-03-11 at 4.39.22 PMEvery time I use these Bento box shape cutters, I feel like the best mom. Forget about the minute before when I impatiently snapped at my kids. With flower-shaped fruit and veggies, anyone can see I love them, right?

I use these on sliced apples, to cut out the core and then make a sandwich with honey or peanut butter in the middle. Or I just cut out melon flowers and veggie flowers to serve with toothpicks. Because after all, toothpicks make every food taste better to kids.

I bought my set on Amazon.

IMAG0081These tubes are also from Amazon, and we use them for lunches or snacks. I fill them with leftover smoothies and then freeze them. By the time lunch comes around, they’re thawed out. (I wouldn’t recommend using this on the go, though, unless you have a Bento box.) One squeeze in a lunch bag, and they’ll pop open.

When I’m really organized, you can find these in our freezer for after school too.

Screen shot 2013-03-11 at 3.51.06 PM1/2 cup popcorn kernels (available at any grocery, but I buy it in bulk from a bulk foods bin)
1/4 cup oil (approx.)
salt to taste

Heat the oil on high in a large pot (a non-stick pot works significantly better) with only 3 kernels in it. Once the kernels pop, add the rest. Shake the pot over the flame to soak the kernels in the oil and then shake a few more times as it pops. Continue popping until it slows down to more than a second between pops. Add salt and shake the pot more.

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