Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tip Tuesday: Make a Snack Bin for Your Kids

Since I live with two of the pickiest eaters on the planet, I like to keep a variety of different foods in the house. When it comes to snacking, I try not to do much of it, and if I do feel like I need a snack, I go for fruit, peanut butter and a pretzel stick, or something like that. Little B man, who is three years old, has two snacks a day- one in the morning, and one in the afternoon.

B is still at home with me all day, every day, so I have tried to work out a schedule for us. We start our day with breakfast together, between 8:00 - 8:15. The 9:00 am hour is usually spent doing puzzles or playing a cooperative game. Around 10:00 am, we start our preschool homeschool lesson for the day. We usually work up until lunch time, so we break around 10:15 for a snack. Lunch falls somewhere between 12:00- 12:30 pm, we do some chores and play until 2:00, when we break for a little afternoon snack. The rest of the afternoon is spent playing or resting, if need be, while mommy tries to get some work done, and then dinner is between 6:00 - 6:30 pm. 

My pantry was becoming seriously cluttered with boxes of snack crackers, etc. B is a pretty independent little dude, and I want to encourage that, so I decided to make a couple of designated snack bins for him. This way, he has the opportunity to select his own snacks at snack time, and I'm saving a lot of shelving space in my pantry!

Pre-portion out the snacks...

To start out with, I pre-portioned a bunch of snacks. I used plastic baggies, and placed a snack sized serving of a snack into the bag. I got out as much air as possible, and closed the bags up. I wound up with eight different snacks, like dried cranberries, wheat crackers, vanilla wafers, graham crackers, honey wheat pretzel sticks, etc. 

The baggies are great for grab & go snacks, plus- the can be re-used.

The reason why I chose baggies for the snack portions, is because they're easy to store, easy for B to pick up, he can see his snack options through the clear bag, he can eat the snack right from the bag no matter where we are, and the bags can be shaken out or rinsed out, and used again. I usually just shake them out, and replace whatever was in the bag to begin with with the same food item.

Snack storage can be anything- a tote, a bin, a drawer...

I chose to use one of my smaller utility totes from Thirty-One Gifts for storing our snacks. I can keep this in the pantry, on the floor, right where B can find it on his own. The bag has a ton of pockets, so it can hold a ton of snacks! I will probably add a couple of little trays to the inside of the bag, for a divider, but for now, the bag is awesome for storing simple snacks that don't need to be refrigerated.

Snacks like Buddy Fruits pouches fill the pockets...

Fruit leather strips fill another pocket...

Couldn't be easier to grab the whole snack tote and take it with us for a trip...

What I love about having a snack tote like this, is that is takes all the guess work out of snack time. There's no more standing in the pantry for ten minutes, pouring over snack boxes with my indecisive son. The snacks are already there, already portioned out... what you see is what you get! 

I turned one of our bottom 'crisper' drawers in the refrigerator into a snack drawer, too.

For items that need to be refrigerated, I simply cleared out a bottom drawer in the fridge for B. I usually keep it stocked with his favorite juice pouches (he's only allowed one of those a day), fresh fruit, string cheese sticks, GoGurt, pudding cups, etc.

Above his snack drawer, is where his beverage options are kept- milk, his pre-filled water bottles, etc.

At snack times, B knows where his snacks are. He knows that he can go either to the pantry or the fridge, and select one snack. Pudding is an afternoon snack, only. Organizing and storing the snacks this way, really gives be a bit more freedom and independence. He feels like a super big boy, because he can pick out his own snack. I feel awesome, because this little thing makes him so happy.

B, playing and enjoying a vanilla wafer snack...

By organizing the snacks, I have eliminated a ton of snack boxes, and my pantry looks much more organized. Everyone knows where to find the snacks, and by pre-portioning them out in baggies, there's no over-eating, we've eliminated a ton of dirty snack bowls, so there are less dirty dishes, and  we can quickly grab a snack to take along with us, when we're headed out the door. This has made snack times much more pleasant for us, and has actually made my life a little bit easier!

What do you think about organizing snacks like this? Would you give it a try? Do you already do something similar? I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback!

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