Our School Snack Simplifier

posted by Andrea | 09/7/2018

I’ve wanted to share one of our favorite ways to simplify school snacks for some time now… but I wanted to wait until the back-to-school season was in full swing.

Now that we have a couple weeks of school under out belts, it’s time for my tip…

I keep a couple weeks of pre-portioned, non-perishable snacks in a small bin in their locker.

The Benefits:

  • I don’t ned to remember to pack any other snacks during the week.
  • We don’t have to decide (or be indecisive about) what snacks to pack.
  • The kids can quickly and easily grab a snack at snack time… without rifling through their backpack, unpacking their lunch bags, etc.
  • The kids feel independent because they can choose their own snacks.
  • The kids have the opportunity to share with someone who forgets a snack
  • The kids learn some responsibility as they need to tell me when their snack bins are low

I realize this system will not work for every child, every school system, or every family… but I’ve shared this tip with friends and other school families, many of whom have implemented this system with fantastically positive results!

It works really well for us FOR NOW… especially since the teachers have made it increasingly clear that it’s VERY helpful if parents pack snacks that are easy to access, easy to open, easy to clean up after, and easy to eat in a short amount of time.

Easy to Access:

We are asked not to put the snack in their lunch box/bag, but rather, in a side pocket of their backpack, or some other place that they can quickly and easily access at snack time.

This prevents the need to take their entire backpack and lunch bag out of their locker, potentially spill lunch food, decide that they’d like to eat their sandwich instead of their snack, and then forget to put their backpack/lunch bag back into their locker.

Easy to Open:

The teachers are responsible for 20-25 students — if each student needs help opening their snack every day, it’s going to be mad chaos in that room!

I pack most snacks in snack-size zip-top bags that the kids can easily open on their own. Also, squeeze pouches (applesauce, yogurt, etc.) are a huge hit and super easy to open.

Easy to Clean Up After:

I try to pack snacks that are easy to eat by hand, out of a bag — nothing that requires silverware, nothing that’s super sticky or gooey, nothing that’s extremely crumbly, and nothing that’s hard for small hands to hold.

There are always exceptions to this rule, but in general, I try to limit the snacks to things that aren’t difficult to clean up after.

Easy to Eat Quickly:

Nora has always had plenty of time to eat her snacks… but they have recess right after snack time and most of the students are VERY eager to get outside for recess, so if they can’t eat their snack quickly, they end up throwing it away so they can run outside.

I ask the kids to put their finished snack bags in their backpacks to take home. This is partially so I can reuse the zip-top bags, but also so I can see if they are actually eating their entire snack or not. If not, I’ll pack less per snack bag or find something they can eat faster!

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Our favorite school snacks:

Last week, I shared more about how “fun lunches” simplify our days (both at home and at school)… and I listed some of our favorite fun lunch foods.

Several of those will also be on this list — however, this list is specifically for pre-portioned, non-perishable, easy-to-open school snacks.

  • Veggie straws / Apple straws
  • Goldfish
  • Pretzels
  • Crackers with peanut butter
  • Animal crackers
  • Granola bars
  • Applesauce or yogurt pouches (store-bought, not homemade)
  • Fruit snacks
  • Peanuts, craisins, M&M mix
  • Dried fruit
  • Chex mix
  • Popcorn/caramel corn
  • Beef jerky sticks

The kids get plenty of fruits, meats, cheeses, yogurt, and even some veggies in their lunches (as well as for breakfast and dinner) so I’m usually not super worried about what they eat for their snack. I just want snacks to fill their bellies until lunch, so they can focus on having fun and learning versus feeling hungry.

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A Few Notes:

I found the cute white bins pictured above at our thrift store (5 for $0.25 total!) and have used them for various things over the years. They are a great size for a couple weeks worth of school snacks and they fit perfectly into the top shelf in their lockers.

We usually pack several of the same snacks (5 bags of veggie straws, 5 applesauce pouches, etc.) and then switch it up the next time we refill the basket.

The kids can choose up to 2 (different) snacks for morning and 2 for afternoon.

Nora likes to keep a pump bottle of hand sanitizer in her snack bin — not a bad addition I suppose!

Nora labeled and decorated her snack bin since I took the photos for this post. 🙂

We keep a few extra napkins, as well as plastic forks and spoons in the bins… just in case I forget to pack that with their lunches.

Nora likes to take the entire bin home and have me refill it at home… however, you could also just send a new supply of snacks in grocery bag or gallon size bag and have them transfer the snacks to their locker bins.

Eventually, my plan is to have the kids restock their own snacks… but for now, I still monitor the process!

So that’s my tip to simplify school snacks! 

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When we were packing the snack bins for the first day of school this year, Nora said to me, “Mom, how did you learn to be so organized?” I smiled and said, “I think I was just born this way!”

Do you have any other tips to simplify snacks… lunches… or anything else school related?

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14 comments

  1. Jen

    09/09/2018

    Wow, I feel old! Lockers for kids this age?? Snacks during school? Anyway, seems like you are making it work smoothly.

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  2. Jennifer

    09/08/2018

    My son just started 7th grade and this is the first time he has had a locker (same with myself growing up– no locker until middle school). I was asking my son if he wanted some snacks in his locker– 13 year old boys are always hungry! I hadn’t thought about that, thanks for the idea. And thank you for making your snacks “school friendly”– I am a kinder teacher and although we don’t have snack time (yes, you read that right) we do have lunch time, and it helps sooooo much when parents can pack things that are easy to open and not too messy. I know you understand with a teacher husband 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, even though Dave is a high school teacher, I still often catch myself thinking of things from the teacher’s perspective! 🙂

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  3. Heidi

    09/08/2018

    That’s really nice they get a snack time! My kids haven’t gotten snack time since they started kindergarten. And none of our district’s middle and high schools even have lockers- so interesting to see how schooling is different in different places!

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  4. Kim

    09/07/2018

    I never knew elementary aged kids had lockers. Thought that didn’t start until middle school.

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  5. Ruth

    09/07/2018

    She is so cute and looks so happy at school!

    OK, so I’m not the only one marveling that she already had a locker! That was my biggest surprise from this post! hahaha

    The kids here get lockers in middle school and they are thin and stacked two at a time so not much space. You’d be lucky to get a coat and one book in there.

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    Andrea Reply:

    No, you are not the only one — several others have commented about the locker. I guess we’re the “weird” ones who have lockers so young!

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  6. Rhonda

    09/07/2018

    This is the first year one of my kids has a locker (3rd grade). I stocked her up this week. My kindergartner doesn’t have a locker, but I know they have a “bin” – I think I will ask the teacher if the bin can just be stocked up.

    Another way I wish I could simplify: Our school also doesn’t require kids to keep “gym” shoes there. I know it’s may be an added expense to have a pair just to keep at school, but I wish they did that as well – it’s hard to remember what kind of shoes to send your kid in each day. When I was in Kindergarten (in 1984!) that is what we did.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, we have gym shoes and it is nice to know she always has shoes and socks in her locker at school. Then I don’t have to worry about what day is PE day or what shoes she wears to school. If she needs to run around or if her outdoor shoes get wet/messy, she always has that back-up pair!

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  7. Jen

    09/07/2018

    What a great idea! I did this to simplify snacks/lunch packing at home when my kids were little. They never had lockers like that until they were in 6th grade. I’m sure Nora LOVES having a locker that big. My girls would have been thrilled! Hope she has a great year!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, I never got a locker until 6th grade — she thinks it’s awesome! It IS really handy though — everything stays in one place and the hallways look so neat and orderly!

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  8. Jamie

    09/07/2018

    Nora looks so big in this picture! It looks so funny to me for little kids to have lockers. I’m a native Floridian and we don’t have lockers until middle school/high school. Even then, they are much smaller (like I had trouble storing my flute in my locker in high school- lol). I guess all the winter gear needs a place to go during the day. 🙂 My kids are at home but could benefit from this system for afternoon snacks. By the afternoon, I am usually busy doing household tasks and hate stopping to help someone get a bowl, open a box, get out the right amount, etc.

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    Andrea Reply:

    she IS getting so big! and yes, we need a place for all the winter gear to go 🙂
    Also, thanks for sharing your tip about using this snack method at home — I’ve honestly never thought about that! Maybe I’ll have to implement something similar for the younger kids at home. Thanks!!

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  9. Krissy

    09/07/2018

    We do something very similar! My boys don’t have lockers at school yet so this particular set up wouldn’t work. However, I have a bin in my pantry specifically for school snacks. All portable and easy to eat and no nuts per school request. Kids are responsible for prepping their backpacks every morning and that includes lunch, water bottle, snack and homework.

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