It was four years ago this fall that I came down with a condition I self-diagnosed as SNACK ANXIETY. It was my first time preparing snack for my daughter's playschool class, and I felt like the pressure was on. During the weekend before our family's first snack week was to begin, I actually had snack anxiety dreams, about sad sunken muffins and emaciated carrots. I was worried about what to bring, and how much, and what the teachers would think about our offerings, and what if the children hated it?
Thankfully, these days the snack anxiety has subsided. I haven't dreamed about muffins in forever, and I could rig up a snack menu with my eyes closed. And to get you too to this peaceful place of snack duty bliss, I'm pleased to impart a few things I've learned over the years.
1) Don't worry about "doing it right." Everybody does snack their own way based upon culinary skills, cultural background, time constraints, and children's peculiar eating habits. Own your snack week. Let your snack selves shine!
2) Remember that nobody's going to go hungry. Snack is nicely sandwiched (see what I did there?) in between the more substantial meals of breakfast and lunch, and if a child happens to refuse what's on offer, she'll have another change to eat within the next 120 minutes. Everything is going to be fine.
3) Make the foods that you know your child likes! This is why snack during our family's week is fruits than veggies. Full disclosure: this post is accompanied by a photo of peppers, and my children have never, ever eaten peppers ever. I'm working on it... But in the meantime, it will be apple slices and sliced strawberries on our end, carrot sticks in a pinch.
4) Take it easy on yourself. I have an old snack stand-by I keep on hand for the evenings when I barely have time to make my family dinner, let alone snack—thank goodness for whole wheat bagels with cream cheese, and a bag of apples! Snack is ready in a snap.
5) Pay attention when you're on co-op shifts or check out the snack menu posted on the kitchen door. And then totally steal other parents' ideas. We are each others' best resources.
6) Remember that snack is a snack and not a meal. Huge portions are not necessary.
7) Don't be afraid to try new snack ideas. (See point 1 about OWNING YOUR SNACK WEEK.) The worst that will happen is that some children won't like what you're serving. But here's a secret: somebody's going to always not like what you're serving no matter what you do, so you might as well have a bit of fun.
8) Fruits/veg and grains are relatively easy to prepare; protein is more of a challenge. Here's what I do: hummous, cheese, edamame, black bean brownies, chia chocolate pudding, chickpeas, or yoghurt. If you come up with another idea during your snack week, I'll probably steal it too ;)
9) If you're feeling really creative, do themed snacks. One parent did a different colour for each day of the week; another did a snack make up of different geometric shapes. I'm partial to baking scones and like to do an Afternoon Tea snack sometimes. And if you choose not to do anything like this, nobody will even notice.
10) Don't be afraid to make something amazing on the days that I'm on co-op duty. I will praise your snack prowess and probably love you forever.