Thursday, May 19, 2011

Snackers for Slackers

From the bean of Green Bean.

I'm not necessarily a slacker mom but I do have my aspirations.

My kids are at a nice age.  6 and 8.  They are finally able to do a bit more for themselves.  They can set and clear the table.  Take out the trash and, with lots of complaining, do their own laundry.  They can even prepare their own food . . . sometimes.

Yay, independence!  But boo to poor choices, desire for packaged and/or processed foods and the inability to slice an apple with a knife yet. ;-)

We have a fruit bowl out at all times and I keep veggies - snap peas, carrots and such - in the fridge.  My kids can throw together a quesadilla or PB&J in no time flat but I'm looking for other ideas for healthy snacking that are sustainable in both the environmental sense AND in the time sense.  For years, I tried the home-baked snack approach but as kids get bigger and eat more and more, always homemade becomes harder and harder.

Any thoughts?  What are your or your children's favorite snacks?  How do you keep packaging down and the interest up?  What else can they make themselves easily.


Anonymous said...

About a month ago we started to make farmer's cheese from raw goat's milk. The recipe is simple and the kids get to pick what spices go into it.

Cost: 1/2 gallon of milk $5.00, vinegar, spices, etc $0.50.

Time: 5 minutes of truly active work; 30 minutes total. Two kids - about 4 days of snacking goodness.

Place 1/2 gallon of goat's milk into a non-allunimum pot.

SLOWLY (15 min) raise the the temperature to around 160 (never above 180).

Turn off.

Add 1/2 cup of white vinegar.

Let it sit a few minutes. The curds will separate from the whey.

Pour it through a strainer lined with cheese cloth.

Let it drip of about 10 minutes. (While it is dripping was the pot. The curds dry hard as a rock.)

Put into a container and add salt, pepper, herbs, spices, etc. Refrigerate. Makes about one "log" of goat's cheese.

Eat with fruit, veggies, or pita chips. (Makes great pizza cheese too.)

The "water" that drains off, called whey, makes great water for bread, stock, etc.

Tab said...

I can't wait to hear everyone's ideas. I'm always on the look out for more real snack ideas.
My kids are a bit older, but honestly I haven't really changed what they can do for years, so hopefully this is helpful.
I also have fruit bowls and veggies in the fridge.
In addition to that we almost always have popcorn popped and in a container so they can help themselves. A batch of chickpea-nuts (dried garbanzos that I soak then cook until soft. Then I season them and bake until crunchy) once a week.
Hummus and salsa always available for snacking.

About once a month I enlist the boys in a freezer cooking session. We make up breakfast burritos, breakfast bagel sandwiches, regular burritos, etc. Then we freeze them individually. After they are frozen we put them in a labeled container together. Then my kids can pop one or two into the toaster oven (or you could use a microwave) when they're hungry. These are by far the most popular. And they love to help (once they get started. It's usually groans when I first mention it.)

I also will bake up muffins and cookies and different baked goods that freeze well and they can pull out whenever they want some.

Hope this maybe gave you some ideas.

Rosa said...

ooh, chickpea nuts sound good, what temperature do you bake them at?

Homemade granola, popcorn,"gorp" (bulk seeds, dried fruit, and small candies from the bulk bin mixed together) and the biggie for us is lots and lots and lots of dried thing - kale and squash chips, apple rings, and fruit leather. It's a lot of work but not all the time, I do most of it in september and october and then we just have them all year.

For sweet stuff I make a lot of no-bake oatmeal & peanutbutter cookies (with chocolate or dried fruit in). Your kids might be big enough to do that themselves - you do have to heat it up on the stove, but that's it. I remember my little brother getting really into monkey bread - blobs of dough dipped in cinnamon and sugar & baked in a bundt pan - around 10 years old. If you're baking bread you could set aside a pint of dough for them to do that.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

Burritos got my brother through his teenage years...

Anonymous said...

Trail mix is a big hit in our house. My kids can make it themselves-using raisins, cereal, nuts and granola. I also like the burrito suggestion.

Anonymous said...

My kids love our apple slinky machine. Great for those who can't use a knife. I'm sure you could find one cheaper in the US, but I'm in Australia and have no idea where!

We eat a big, satisfying breakfast (porridge; wholemeal pancakes; homemade muesli, eggy bread with apples; sausages/eggs/toast; homemade baked beans/toast) and I find that everyone is satisfied with that until lunch. My guys snack on fruit, carrots/hummus, nuts, and homemade baked goods if we have any.

tory said...

Oh, suddenly I can comment....

I feed my kids a lot of nuts. They love pistachios, almonds, walnuts and pecans.

I buy them in bulk (using my own reusable net bags) so the only waste is the pistachio shells..

I also serve raw fruit at the end of every single dinner for dessert. Then if I do bake something sweet, it really is a treat.

And, I do a lot of dried fruit in winter (also bought in bulk).

Last night's leftovers are always a possible snack choice. My boys are 16 and 18 and participate in some serious varsity sports (as well as biking/walking to school daily) so they can eat a bowl of leftover stew for a snack and still put away a full dinner two hours later....


Green Bean said...

@eavice: Sounds delicious!

@Tab: The freezer baking session is GENIUS! I need to get that on the schedule. Popcorn is also great. We recently got out our popcorn popper and even my 6 year old can pop corn on his own.

@Rosa: I think that is what kills me. We moved last year and I didn't dry a thing! Thank you for the reminder on how important that is.

@Erin: Burritos are brilliant.

@GroovyGreen: Oh yes!! Trail mix. I forgot that I used to do that for their lunches and toss in like 2 chocolate chips but that made it ALL exciting.

@Anonymous: I've seen those apple slinky thingies before and wondered. My kids would totally dig that. Thanks for the suggestion.

@Tory: Thank you for the comment here as well. I dig the nuts idea and love getting advice from a mom with boys older than mine. As I said over on my blog, I clearly need to get into the habit of making bigger dinners so there are more leftovers.

robbie said...

I love these ideas! We tend to stick to fruits, veggies or cereal because they're craving something to eat the minute they get home, and we hope they'll still eat dinner!!!

The kids also love making peanut butter popcorn on weekends as well.

I will look up some of my kids' favorites and post them online too!

Green Bean said...

@Robbie: Peanut butter popcorn? Do tell. What is that!

Jenn the Greenmom said...

(I want to hear about the peanut butter popcorn too!)

But OMG, are you serious, your 6 and 8 year olds do their own laundry?? (Yeah, I know that wasn't your point, but...) You've inspired me, I think we're going to start lessons next week. I'm sick of the production that 4 people's laundry is when you try to do it all at once, and that's even with my husband doing most of it.


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