Taking Control of Snacking

by Maria on February 27, 2012


When we redid our kitchen last year I made the lower part of a new pantry the designated snack storage area, complete with plastic bowls and plates on the bottom shelf. I stocked it with healthy snacks, but snacks never the less. It was a perfect set-up for the kids to grab a snack when they needed one. The one rule I had was that they eat at the table.

The problem was, did they really need this independence at the ages of 3 and 5? While my kids loved this set-up, and I no longer had to worry about them climbing up high to reach snacks, they quickly fell into the routine of helping themselves to snacks throughout the day. Then, come lunch or dinner, their appetites just weren’t there.

It was time for structure. In addition to rearranging the snack cabinet so that the snack items are up high (the rice, couscous, bulgur, pasta, oats, and beans are now on the lower shelves), I also set a schedule for snacks.  

snack pantry.JPG

My 3-year old goes to school two mornings a week, but is otherwise home with me. This was where we really needed structure. I now try to sit down and have a snack with him around 10 am, and discourage continuous snacking or grazing. We have an afternoon snack around 3 pm, when my 5-year old comes home from school.

So far the new set-up and schedule has worked pretty well. The kids can still reach the cereal, which is one of their favorite items to snack on, and occasionally I catch them using a chair to reach other, higher-up snack foods. But I do my best to enforce the snack schedule. Something I have also always tried to do is to only keep relatively healthy snack foods on hand, for example:

  • Pretzels, crackers, and goldfish (preferably whole grain, but I mix it up)
  • Granola bars
  • Dried fruit and nuts
  • Cereals such as plain cheerios, granola, or plain Chex
  • And of course, a big bowl of fresh fruit; (if someone is really hungry between meal or snack time, I say what my mom used to “have an apple”)

While we may not stick to our schedule every day, on most days we do. And, overall, I think we have found a healthier balance. 


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