Kids are so often starving in the afternoon when they get home from school, preschool or daycare, but it can be tricky to offer an after school snack that doesn’t spoil their appetite for dinner. Enter: The serve-yourself snack bin!

after school snack bin
This post is sponsored by Roth Cheese.

I partnered with Roth® Snack Cheese for this post because their cheeses are all-natural, preservative-free and always made with fresh, local rBST-free Wisconsin milk. And I particularly love that at just .75 ounce, they are an ideal size for little kids—and to put into a snack bin.

DIY After School Snacks

It seems that regardless of whether my kids have an afternoon snack at daycare or after-school care, they are still starving when they walk into the house. And since we don’t often eat dinner at 4 or 4:30, I’ve come up with a solution for this situation that doesn’t get in the way of them eating dinner. I’ve created a small snack bin in our fridge, placed on a shelf that they can reach, with an assortment of healthy snacks that they can help themselves to. This is reassuring for them since they know where to go to solve their hunger problem and since it’s clearly defined, it doesn’t create a cascade of grazing!

The genius of this idea is that the snack options for the kids are preselected by YOU the parent, but the child gets to pick from the options available. This gives them power within structure and prevents a free-for-all in the kitchen right before dinner. I try to pick foods that the kids can eat themselves (without slicing by me), further handing over the power of this snack to their small, yet capable hands. And I limit the options to limit their potential indecisiveness or becoming overwhelmed by options.

after school snack bin in the fridgeBest After School Snacks for Kids

This snack is an excellent opportunity to get in an extra dose of nutrition, especially since many kids will happily eat more produce when they aren’t sitting down for family dinner and facing the pressure that sometimes comes with a big meal. Try to fill in any dietary gaps by offering fruit or veggies, which will offer lots of vitamins and fiber, or a protein- and calcium-rich food like cheese.

How to Make a Snack Bin Step-by-Step

Here’s a look at how to make an after school snack bin in your house.

  1. Find a small container. I found ours at a storage store, but any big box store will have an assortment in the organization or office supply aisles.
  2. Place it on a low shelf in the fridge where they can reach it.
  3. Add a few healthy snack options that they usually like.
  4. Explain the rules to the kids: “If you’re hungry before dinner, you can help yourself to one snack from this bin!” They will likely be so excited to have this special spot just for them in the fridge.
  5. Reiterate the rules if the kids try to go back for more (and more) helpings.
  6. Remember: The goal is to tide them over to dinner, not take the place of dinner, so one portion is usually all they’ll need.
  7. Vary the options from week to week and even let the kids jump in to help decide what goes into the snack bin!

healthy after school snacksWhat are some healthy after school snack ideas that won’t ruin dinner appetites?

Here are a few healthy snack ideas for kids that aren’t too filling.

  • Individual snack cheese
  • Clementine
  • Kiwi
  • Small apple
  • Small pear
  • Plum
  • 1/2-1 cup berries
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 1/2-1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2-1 cup snap Peas
  • ½ cup edamame
  • ½ cup frozen peas (really! Most kids love them!)

Thanks to Roth Cheese for sponsoring this post!

Do you think something like this would work in your house? I’d love to hear!

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