I have many mom friends who are on the go with their kids after work and school, and one of my friends said recently that she's become one of those parents who's now pulling into the fast food drive-thru to feed her kids in between sports practices. So, I enlisted The Nutrition Mom, Stephanie Merchant, for tips on keeping the kids fed and the whole family healthy on busy weeknights.
"We are busier than ever before and sometimes we pick our kids up from school, and we might not be home until it's dark outside. So, we want to set ourselves up for success. We want to avoid the drive-thru. We want to avoid the concession stand," says Merchant.
She adds that preparation is key, so she keeps two bins fully stocked with healthy snacks - one for the fridge and one for the pantry. "It's very easy for me to grab and go. They're already pre-portioned which helps with portion control," adds Merchant.
Her refrigerated items include yogurts, and bagged fruits and vegetables. She also makes lunchmeat roll-ups with mozzarella sticks. Choose uncured, organic lunchmeat as the healthiest option. Roll the meat around the cheese stick, and secure with a toothpick.
In her pantry bin, Merchant keeps a variety of options. "I love dried fruit, Lara bars, crackers, nuts and seeds, even packets of almond butter, apple sauce, seaweed snacks, and this is a great little super food. These are chia seeds that are mixed with vegetable and fruit juices, so they are really a nice little energy snack," says Merchant.
For nights that keep you out for hours, consider something more substantial, like a quinoa dish. "You can just pack that thermos, and I just do that with whatever I made the other night for dinner," Merchant explains.
Finally, never leave your house without a cooler. "I have bottled water, napkins, utensils, and I can just throw whatever else I need in there and be out the door."
"We need to remember these snacks do keep our kids' energy up, and not just for them but for us, too, because we're in the car with them as busy moms, so this is great for us, too," says Merchant.
Preparing healthy food ahead makes us proactive instead of reactive. Plus, it saves us money in the longrun.
Keeping healthy snacks for on-the-go moms and kids