Family Life

Streamlining Meals + Snack Time for My Sanity

This post has been sponsored by Mott’s® Juice. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

family snack time

One of my biggest goals for the summer was to cut down on my children’s constant eating that seemed to be taking over my life.

Ella would eat breakfast before school and usually Star would be awake too, so she’d eat breakfast with Ella.

Then anywhere from 30-60 minutes later, Ani would wake up and be ready to eat breakfast. Of course, Star would decide SHE needed a second breakfast, but then often they’d only eat SOME of their breakfast before running off to play in the backyard or look at books — leaving soggy cereal or cold oatmeal at the table.

Then by 9:30 or 10, they’d be STARVING again.

daily snack time

So they’d eat a second breakfast.

Naturally by lunch time, they weren’t really that hungry, so half their lunch would remain un-eaten.

And then, you guessed, they were too hungry to make it until after-school/nap-time snacks.

snack time for kids

Then they were DYING for more food around 5:00 and couldn’t possibly wait another hour for dinner.

Basically, the whole thing was making me crazy. (Just writing it all down makes me a little crazy.)

Plus, there was so much food waste and unending dishes and my dang kitchen was never, ever clean.

All of which is to say that when summer started, I sat all my children down and said, “things have to change”.

snack time rules

We agreed that everyone would eat three meals a day – breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There would be ONE snack time after afternoon naps and quiet time.

Their job was to eat when it was time to eat without getting distracted. My job was to remind them that this was the last meal until the next one and make sure everyone understood.

I’ll tell you what, this one thing has made THE biggest difference in my happiness level over the summer.

We do the dishes one time after each meal and then the kitchen stays clean between those meals.

My children actually eat at meals (this is so novel!).

easy snack time ideas

I always keep a bunch of bananas on the counter so if anyone is absolutely DYING between meals, they can always eat a banana which requires no dishes.

But it’s surprising how, when your option is a banana rather than absolutely anything your little heart desires, it turns out that my children aren’t actually that hungry between meals.

It’s also made me a little more fun about snack times because the whole day no longer feels like one long snack time.

I cleaned out my pantry earlier this summer (since I know how to party) and set aside one shelf for all the snacks. It makes it easy for me or for the girls to see exactly what the options are.

And I’ve done a similar thing for the fridge, where one shelf is designated for snack options. When I do my meal prep for the week on Monday night after my weekly grocery shopping trip, I cut up all the fruits and vegetables for snacking and put them on that shelf so I can see them at a glance.

Whether it’s cherries that are already pitted and ready to eat or broccoli cut into little trees for dipping, it makes it super easy for me to grab one item from the pantry (crackers or granola bars, usually) and one produce item from the fridge for snack time.

Of course, the girls’ favorite part of their snack is a small cup of Mott’s® for Tots Organic Juice, which is 100% organic and comes in Apple White Grape and Apple flavors.

after school snack time

My girls are basically CRAZY about juice and would happily drink it around the clock if I let them, but having it just at snack time makes it feel extra special. (In fact, when I asked them last year their favorite thing about visiting my parents in Las Vegas, both Ella and Ani independently said “swimming in their pool and having juice for breakfast.” Who knew?).

When I was at Target a few weeks ago, I discovered the new Apple White Grape flavor (it’s exclusive to Target!) and I love that it starts with 100% organic real fruit juice and then has purified water added, which reduces the sugar content by 40%. Bonus for always having vitamins A, C, and E.

lower sugar juice

The other thing I’ve done this summer is assign each of my girls their own cups and that’s the only cup they use all day until dinner. Otherwise, we were washing approximately 50,323 cups per day.

They each have their own color (and they all have lids so we’ve had significantly less spilling this summer) and then they can get a drink whenever they need it.

snack time juice

At snack time, I just pour out any water in their cup, add a little Mott’s® for Tots Organic Juice and once it’s all finished (because there is NEVER any juice leftover at my house), I just refill them with water for the rest of the afternoon and they can bring them along on our afternoon adventures.

It’s kind of crazy how much this one thingstreamlined meals and clean-uphave improved my life, but I’m pretty sure I’m a 200% nicer mother now that I’m not making and cleaning up 43 meals a day.

 

snack time hacks

Photos by Christie Knight Photography

 

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7 Comments

  • Reply Ramya Rajiv July 16, 2018 at 3:38 am

    Hey Janssen,

    The part about cutting up fruits caught my eye. Do you cut up all your fruits ? Example. Strawberry and apples ? And how do you store them ? How long do they usually last ?

    PS : Loved the humor in this post 😀
    Thanks !

    • Reply Janssen Bradshaw July 16, 2018 at 9:45 am

      I usually do strawberries (they’ll last up to a week for me), I wash grapes and cut them up into small bunches, watermelon or honeydew.

      Apples, I usually do day of because they just get brown and I think that’s gross.

  • Reply Amy July 16, 2018 at 7:36 am

    What brand are those cups? I am going crazy with 52,288 cups around my house as well. Thanks!

  • Reply Sommer Moon July 16, 2018 at 3:14 pm

    What do you do on days out? My kids always seem more hungry when we are out swimming or hiking or running errands everywhere. I don’t know if I have conditioned them or if they truly want snacks. Do you change your strategy outside the house?

    • Reply Janssen Bradshaw July 16, 2018 at 3:20 pm

      If we’re doing something really active, like swimming, I usually pack snacks (although I try to keep them minimal and reasonably boring ;)).

      But I never take them on errands or to a normal activity like the park or library because 1) I am lazy and 2) if I bring snacks I feel like all they care about are the snacks instead of the actual activity we are doing.

  • Reply Paige Cassandra Flamm July 16, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    I definitely need to get better about prepping fruits and veggies in the fridge for the week. Our snack times have definitely gotten a little out of control during the summer and my own personal laziness haha.

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