22 October 2006

Make healthy snacks easiest to grab

At Amazon: Brita Slim Filter Pitcher
At Amazon: Brita Slim Filter Pitcher

This barely counts as a hack given how simple and obvious it is...or perhaps that best qualifies it as a hack, come to think of it. I find that my kids and I are most likely to snack on the foods that are easiest to grab with no prep. Points off for having to wash, cut up, heat, or assemble.

So, I'm attempting to make the healthy stuff easiest and most visible in our kitchen. This way, even the youngest can grab and go:

  • A colorful array of fruit sits, already washed, in a fruit bowl on the kitchen counter. (I only keep 2-3 apples there at a time, with the rest in the fridge. I refill the bowl as necessary.)
  • A Brita filter pitcher full of water sits on the counter, with drinking glasses alongside. Mine is the "Slim" model -- I have very little counter space.
  • I keep a snack shelf in the fridge stocked with cheese sticks (I like Trader Joe's offerings), cut carrots, and yogurt.

The cookies and chips (what little we have in our house) are stored in a cupboard inside an airtight container, and so require more effort to eat.

The consumption of fruit and water has doubled in our house.

More: Hacks for healthy snacks

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Parents or Parenting magazine (I can't remember which) just had a suggestion for 100 calorie snack packs in ziplock bags, so I went through all our cereals/crackers/cookies and did the math (not hard). Sams/Walmart has tiny half-size zipper sandwich bags which hold just about as much snack as you want to give your kids. I now have a basket o' carbs in the kitchen - 1 a day only.

Not just for kids either! I've adopted a similar system for work too. A fruit basket on my desk so I can easily indulge the mid-afternoon sugar cravings without resorting to the vending machine or cookie jar.

We've got some baby cereal bowls that came with lids (Gerber, I think). They're just the right size to fill with a snack and Galatae's idea could be done without all the disposable plastic. I might try it, and add things like dried fruit and nuts to the options. I need the restraint more than my kids do!

I'll add that we reuse/recycle any bags that aren't shredded for new snacks.

We use those small cup plasticware containers (e.g. Gladware) for kid-sized portions of refrigerated snacks. They're easy to wash and reuse, plus 16 of them nicely fit the (drained) contents of a food-service sized can of fruit cocktail.

We doubled our water consumption by establishing the habit of refilling our Brita counter tank on a nightly basis. Daughter loves getting her water from the little spigot.

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