Having a kids snack drawer is great to give your kids freedom to pick their snacks, and also makes packing lunches much easier! I'm sharing our snack drawer staples, tips and a video tutorial.
Meal prep takes practice and experimentation to find a strategy that works for you. I've always had a pretty good handle on meal prep for grown ups but still struggled with the 'kid' piece of the puzzle. Over the past few months, we've experimented with meal prep for kids and finally have a system that works for us....a kids snack drawer!
Even though I have a six year old, I am still learning so much about kids + food. I've had my share of food failures, let me tell you!
This snack drawer experiment was initiated because of my six year old son's constant hunger. I got so sick of hearing 'mom, I'm hungry' all through the day, and decided to give him his own little corner of the fridge...well actually a drawer.
We experimented with different snacks, and found a selection of healthy snacks that he loves. When he gets home from school and wants a snack? He goes to the snack drawer and picks something.
As expected, it makes my life easier to not have to constantly interrupt what I'm doing to get him a snack, but the unexpected thing that it did? Gave him joy and confidence in having the freedom to choose what he eats.
Kids snack drawer video
Watch the video below to hear Kai discuss his favorite snack drawer recipes.
What's in our snack drawer?
- washed fruit that he can grab and eat
- protein-filled options
- a selection of sweet and savory options
- veggie sticks prepped for his lunchbox
- as little packaging as possible
Snack drawer packaging
When searching for snack drawer ideas on Pinterest, I was grossed out by all the disposable packaging and decided to do things a little differently. Is this more work on my part? Yes, but it's also how I show my love to my children and for me it's something I love doing.
- Instead of disposable yogurt or applesauce cups, I use jars and either make from scratch or portion out from a larger container.
- We try to avoid wrappers by making energy bites, granola bars, or muffins from scratch (but in a pinch will rely on store bought).
- We avoid disposable bags in favor of reusable containers.
- The only packaging I haven't been able to avoid is from cheese strings. I've made an exception to the rule here because he is ridiculously picky about cheese and doesn't like most foods with protein.
When I first started doing snack drawer prep, I did a mix of foods I knew he'd enjoy, and 'experiment' foods, like hummus and hard boiled eggs.
Through experimentation and not pushing the foods on him, we found some new snacks he enjoyed! Hard boiled eggs, for example, were a hit, whereas the hummus was not.
Another experiment I did was to make 'snack boxes'. The snack boxes contained a mix of foods I knew he'd love (like granola bars or trail mix) and something he was less likely to eat (like chopped veggies). The rule was if you take a snack box, you must eat everything in the box or you wouldn't be allowed another one. It was a pretty successful experiment!
Lunch Box Prep
While I prep Kai's snack drawer, often I will also prep some components for his lunch box. This has made packing his lunch each morning soooo much easier. Here are some ideas for lunch box prep:
- mix up tuna salad for sandwiches
- wash, chop and store veggie sticks (carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers)
- wash, dry & store fruit (like grapes)
Snack Drawer Ideas
- washed apples
- washed + dried grapes
- chopped melon (cantaloupe, watermelon)
- Instant Pot applesauce or pear sauce
- carrot sticks
- bell peppers
- cucumber sliced into sticks and pushed back together to keep moist
- cherry tomatoes
- I would love to try veggie chips (ie: zucchini chips) someday
- trail mix
- hard boiled eggs
- hummus (was not a success for us though)
- homemade granola bars
- homemade energy bites
- cheese sticks
- coconut date balls
- mini muffins
- snack boxes (we do a mix of a treat + something he's less likely to eat ie: trail mix + veggies)
How long does snack drawer prep take?
Like grown up meal prep, I don't prep everything for the snack drawer meal prep at the same time. I squeeze it in here and there when I have time.
Here are my strategies for sneaking it in when I'm short on time:
- wash grapes when prepping dinner
- throw eggs into the Instant Pot while puttering in the kitchen
- portion out trail mix while boiling water for tea (it literally takes 5 min or less)
- I cook up a big batch of applesauce, portion out into jars and freeze to last us 2-3 weeks
- I bake a big batch of mini muffins, freeze half to last us 2 weeks
That's snack drawer meal prep in a nutshell!
Question about anything? Ask in the comments below.