Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Organizing the Snack Cupboard

This year I have worked really hard to get into a good routine when it comes to regular mealtimes and snacks, and fitting in all food groups.  The kids and I all love what we've come up with.  When I started, I had to set alarms on my phone to keep us consistent time-wise.  But now we're all so used to it that I could probably turn the alarms off most days.

We're not big breakfast eaters so usually all we have is milk and cereal, oatmeal or toast.  At 9:30, though, it's time for some fresh fruit while we transition from independent learning to group history or science time.

Lunch is at 12:15.  Lunch always includes half a glass of fruit juice and a serving of veggies along with our entree.  Two more servings of veggies are served with dinner.  I'm really pleased with how much and variety of vegetables my kids eat.

Then later in the afternoon 3 o'clock snack marks the end of the school day.  Usually we finish way before that, but the kids know that no later than 3 I basically "clock out."  Everyone grabs their own snack and gets to have some free, unstructured independent time (including mommy.)

To make 3 o'clock snack time go easier so the kids could be more independent, I keep these snack boxes well stocked.  The box on the right is full of fruit: dried fruit, applesauce, and fruit cups.  The box on the left is full of grains: crackers, granola bars.  They have to pick one thing from each box.

As you can see, these boxes fit perfectly in this space that used to hold my oven.  It's the perfect height for the kids to access by themselves.  Even Tertius and Quartus can make their selections easily if they push a chair over.

Another key to the way we do snack time is that all snacks have to be already in individual serving sizes.  We do like to buy packaged granola bars.  But what about Goldfish or raisins?

Pre-packaged single serving snacks are expensive and wasteful.  Portioning into plastic baggies is also expensive and wasteful.  Plus, the crackers get crumbled too easily.

So we use a variety of containers.  I've gotten creative. I have not bought a single container for this purpose.  Check it out.

Sprinkle bottles, small tupperware I was gifted, breast milk storage bottles, spice bottles, hand-me-down homemade baby food containers, and bullion cube containers.  Perfect.  Things like rice cakes and graham crackers obviously don't fit, but I'm fine with the occasional ziplock bag for that.  Or the big package will sit in the cupboard up above and can be gotten down if a majority ask for the same thing.

When these bottles get emptied, the lids get put back on and they're thrown in the space behind the snack boxes (ideally by the child who did the emptying) to await being refilled.  I don't even feel it's necessary to wash all the containers every time.  I definitely don't want to increase my dirty dish pile!  And if I do wash a container and the lid somehow gets lost (dishwashers eat small lids the way dryers eat socks) then I don't worry too much because most of these were free and easily replaced!

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