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    The first day of school is just around the corner, and if you’re like most families, it’s about to get pretty hectic.

    One thing that can help? That’s being prepared — picking out their clothes ahead of time, packing their lunches and backpacks the night before, and practicing your morning routines long before the big week arrives.

    Another smart move: Prep your after-school snacks ahead of time, too. If you’ve got kiddos who will be arriving home sans parents, this is even more important (especially if you don’t want them going for the chips or cookies as soon as they walk in the door.)

    Want your kiddos to come home to tasty, healthy after-school snacks? Just want to make your life easier on busy weekdays? Here are eight treats you can prep ahead of time.

    After-school snacks that are healthy and delicious

    1. Veggie sticks and ranch dip.

    All you need is a few small mason jars for this one. Then, layer a little ranch dressing on the bottom, add in some carrot, celery, or cucumber sticks, put on the lid, and line the jars up in the fridge. You can vary the veggies up each day to keep them fresh. Sliced red bell peppers are a great option, too.

    2. Granola bars or power balls.

    Both of these are a great way to give your little ones an extra kick of energy once they get home from their big days. You can get complicated with it, but your best bet is a no-bake option, like these coconut ones or these oatmeal bites. 

    Have a picky kiddo? Adding in a few chocolate chips can make these after-school snacks a bit more appealing. 

    3. Pinwheels and roll-ups.

    Meat and cheese roll-ups and mini pinwheel sandwiches are easy options as well. For the former, all you need is your kiddo’s favorite lunch meats and cheeses. Just roll them up into a thin tube, secure it with a toothpick, and set aside two or three in a baggie for each day of the week.

    Pinwheels are similar, just with a tortilla or wrap thrown in. You can also add in other ingredients like pimento cheese, mustard, or even chicken salad. These ham and cheese pinwheels are a hit with my kiddos. 

    4. Fruit pops.

    Have a kid that just loves ice cream or popsicles? Live in a hot climate and want to help your kiddo cool off after the long walk home? Fruit pops are a healthy way to do it. You’ll just need popsicle molds and your kiddo’s favorite fruit juice. You can also make pops out of yogurt or buttermilk, too.

    For starters, try one of these blackberry yogurt popsicles or one of these tasty mixed-fruit options. 

    5. Muffins.

    Muffins can be great after-school snacks, and they can also ease your mornings as well. (In a rush? Just grab a muffin for the carpool line!) They’re also super versatile, so you can make all kinds of flavors to keep it fresh and exciting.

    These blueberry whole wheat muffins are some of my little ones’ favorites, as are these super moist strawberry yogurt muffins. You can even opt for mini muffins if you want to keep the snacks on the smaller side. 

    6. Trail mix.

    It doesn’t get easier than this when it comes to after-school snacks. With trail mix, you can add in anything your kiddo likes — nuts, like almonds, walnuts, peanuts or pistachios, dried fruits (especially raisins and cranberries), and maybe even a hint of chocolate with some M&Ms or Reeses Pieces. 

    If you’re going this route, make sure to stock up on small Ziploc bags. You’ll want to portion the mix out for each day, as it’s really easy to overeat on this tasty snack.

    7. Fruit and yogurt parfaits.

    Parfaits are a nutritious way to fuel up at any time of the day. Again, you’ll need some mini mason jars here, along with your child’s favorite yogurt and fruits. Granola and sliced almonds are a nice addition, too, as they give it some much-needed crunch. You can get creative with this one and really vary it up depending on your kids’ preferences, but here’s a recipe to get you started.

    8. Veggie chips

    Have a kid that just loves chips? Steer clear of the processed, salty Doritos, and make some healthy veggie chips instead. You can use all kinds of vegetables — sweet potatoes, squash, zucchini, and even beets — and store them away in individual baggies for after-school snacks when the kids arrive home.

    Making veggie chips is pretty easy if you have an air fryer. Just slice the vegetables super-thin, spray with some olive oil, and lightly salt before tossing them in the air fryer basket for a few minutes. If you don’t have an air fryer, a standard oven works, too. This recipe is a good place to start if you’re in this boat.

    What are you doing to prepare for the new school year?

    School is fast approaching, so take time now to start prepping your household — and your pantry. Need more tips for school preparation? Here’s how to get your kids ready during COVID and these tips can help you ease back into a school-ready sleep schedule. Finally, if you’re on a budget, this advice can reduce your school supply costs.

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