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Like so many of you, whether you homeschool or not, we’re crazy busy. It seems that since adding in a fourth kiddo a year ago, I can’t keep myself consistently organized. I need a repertoire of quick kid’s snacks for those days that my meal-planning doesn’t work out.

 

Shortcut Cooking Quick Kids' Snacks via www.RaisingLifelongLearners.com #AfterSchoolSnacks #Shop

 

You know those days, right?

You wake up after your alarm, realizing that you hit snooze a few too many times, and the kids {who are usually long up by then} are still sleeping. And you roll back over, no big deal, you think to yourself, we homeschool; this is one of those great things about staying home with your kids. And then you jolt upright, because it’s co-op day, and you have to have to get the van loaded, four kids up, dressed, fed, and on the road {in good moods} in a half hour.

You make it, and take the extra ten minutes to drive through Starbucks and grab a coffee {a caffeinated mom is a happy mom}, and get to co-op mostly on-time, and have a great, but exhausting day.

 

Shortcut Cooking Quick Kids' Snacks via www.RaisingLifelongLearners.com #AfterSchoolSnacks #Shop

 

And then you come home to a cold crock pot. You forgot to turn it on.

Those days happen to me often, and while I don’t spend a lot of time and money on prepackaged foods, I do keep some kids’ snacks shortcuts in the freezer for days like this. My kids are famished when we get home from co-op, and if I’m dealing with an over-tired toddler, semi-wet paintings, and the several carts full of supplies I take in and out each week for preschool science classes, I don’t have the time to make the kids something to tide them over until dinner.

Shortcut cooking is my solution for easy to make snacks and lunches on busy homeschool days. I do the prep ahead of time, and the bigger kids can help out and pull fun snacks and meals together to help out. It’s a shortcut because the prep is done. It’s all about assembly and reheating.

 

Step One: Make a Plan

The next time you’re shopping, think about those busy days. Stock up on kid-friendly foods like fruits, veggies, cheese, and crackers. Then, grab some freezer foods like the Bagel Bites {coupon} and Delimex taquitos {coupons} we had the chance from #CollectiveBias to snag when we were at Walmart last using coupons we’d downloaded and printed from Walmart.com. We’d love these options already as an easy, affordable assortment of frozen #AfterSchoolSnacks made with real cheese, homemade sauce, and no trans fats.

 

Shortcut Cooking Quick Kids' Snacks via www.RaisingLifelongLearners.com #AfterSchoolSnacks #Shop

 

I know that when I get home from the store I’ll have lots of things the kids can draw from to create their own quick snacks.

 

Step Two: Prepare Ahead

When you get home from the store, stash the freezer snacks in a place that’s easily accessible to your kids. Your goal is to foster independence and keep everything where they can do it all themselves.

Cut up your fruits and veggies in different ways. I like to dice some mushrooms, pepper, and onions to add to the tops of the Bagel Bites we buy so we can add to the fresh vegetable count for the day, and the kids can all customize their own before My big kid, Trevor, puts them in the oven.

I also slice peppers, mushrooms, celery, carrots, and cucumbers into strips and pieces to make for easy-to-grab side dishes and snacks.

 

Shortcut Cooking Quick Kids' Snacks via www.RaisingLifelongLearners.com #AfterSchoolSnacks #Shop

 

The fruit gets washed and put into a fruit bowl or cut into chunks and stored in the refrigerator.

I buy blocks of cheese and dice those into cubes and put them into containers. The kids like piling cheese, veggies, and fruits onto a divided platter and eating that with crackers.

 

Step Three: Empower Your Kids

The biggest tip I have for you is to get your kids onboard and empower them to handle the snacks and some of meals themselves. Your life will become easier. And theirs will become richer.

An easy way to teach them is to give your kids age-appropriate tasks and tools. I have kid-size kitchen utensils so that even my littlest ones can help prepare foods. My oldest is almost 12. He makes scrambled eggs once a week for breakfast, and is now given the task of making a quick kids’ snack when we get home on co-op days.

This past week, he pulled out the Bagel Bites and diced veggies for toppings. The little ones all added peppers to theirs, and I added some mushrooms, onions, and peppers to mine. Trevor took care of everything else. He grabbed some cut up lettuce from the refrigerator, some more of the cut veggies, and while the Bagel Bites were cooking, he tossed together a salad.

 

Shortcut Cooking Quick Kids' Snacks via www.RaisingLifelongLearners.com #AfterSchoolSnacks #Shop

 

We had a yummy late-afternoon snack and I didn’t have to prepare any of it. I got the van cleaned out, Isaac put down for a nap, and had a minute to pull together things I could make for dinner instead of the crockpot meal I’d planned.

Win-Win.

How do you empower your kids to take responsibility in the kitchen?

Colleen Kessler

Colleen is an explorer, tinkerer, educator, writer, creator, and a passionate advocate for the needs of gifted and twice-exceptional children. She has a B.S. in elementary education, a M.Ed. in gifted studies, is a sought-after national speaker and educational consultant, and is the founder of the popular blog and podcast Raising Lifelong Learners, as well as Raising Poppies, a community of support for parents of gifted children. She lives in northeast Ohio with her four bright and quirky kiddos, patient husband, and ever-changing collection of small reptiles, mammals, and insects.