As promised, I'm back to report on how my more intentional snack planning worked out. It was a good experiment for sure, but it needs some tweaking. There are some parts I want to keep, some I want to modify, and some that I plan to abandon altogether.
First, I loved having a set time each day. Out of habit, my kids would beg for food around the clock, and it was so nice (and liberating!) to be able to say, "Sorry, it's not time for a snack yet" or, "We already ate. Now you'll have to wait for dinner." For the most part, we stuck to the 9:30 am snack time, but we had to make the afternoon time a little more flexible. I found that if the younger ones could hold out, I preferred waiting until 4:00 when Aaron got home so I could feed them all at the same time. (Can you blame me?)
My kids quickly caught on to the pre-planned snack. I met with very little complaining when I pointed to the calendar and said, "Looks like celery and peanut butter today." If it was written down, they just went with it (and I admit to changing it on the spot a couple of times but still consulting the calendar for show--that's allowed). They got so used to it, in fact, that on Saturday (which was empty on the calendar), Bradley came up to me and said, "Write something on the calendar so we can have a snack!"
However, even though I liked writing the snacks down, I found that I didn't like writing them on the calendar. After a couple of weeks, it started to look so cluttered and messy, and the important things like appointments and reminders got lost amidst the grapes and bananas.
So I made up a generic outline that I just stuck in a plastic sheet protector so I can just use a dry erase marker on it. This will be our first week using it rather than the calendar, so I'll let you know if it's a better fit for us.
And now about the snacks themselves.
I loved the variety, and I loved having a plan. However, I did not love writing out a new plan every week. I'm a creature of habit, and I realized that, for the most part, I prefer consistently having the same snack schedule week after week after week and eliminate the need for decision. Gretchen Rubin said the "real key to habits is . . . the lack of decision making." I don't mind if we have bananas and peanut butter every Tuesday, but if I have to decide to have bananas and peanut butter every Tuesday, then it's probably not going to happen.
The snack planning wasn't all in vain however. As I sat down and planned out our snacks for several weeks, some go-to, favorite snacks emerged (bananas/pb, celery/pb/raisins, and, unfortunately, goldfish crackers. Turns out, we eat a lot of goldfish). This was really helpful and eye-opening for me, and, you can be sure, I'm turning to that data as I plan out our more permanent snacks. With my new outline, I wrote in the snacks we liked the most, and now I'll just change them out here and there as we want/need, but for the most part, they'll stay the same from week to week.
The one bit of variety I liked (and that I'm holding onto) was making a new recipe every Monday and freezing half of it. The freezing part didn't always work out because sometimes we liked whatever it was so much that we gobbled it up in record time, but I loved eating something new and different each week and enjoyed the chance to try out some new recipes I've found. Over the last four weeks, we made Savory Waffles (I love these, and they freeze really well, but unfortunately, they are not my kids' favorite), Lemon Yogurt Bread (thumbs up--I could make this every week and be happy), Glazed Strawberry Bread (thumbs down; soggy texture = nasty), and Chocolate Zucchini Muffins (I didn't get to freeze any of these, we liked them so much).
So . . . I made some significant progress in the last few weeks, but I need to keep up my momentum because snack time is still far from effortless. I know I'm especially going to need to do some tweaking once school gets out. We just bought a share in our little neighborhood pool, so I'm definitely going to need some good portable ideas since we'll probably be spending most afternoons camped out by the water. Consider this the first snack report of many.
What are your favorite summer snacks? Do you have any good snack containers you like to use? (I'd prefer not to single-handedly fill up the landfill with Ziploc bags.) Also, any small coolers you especially like? Share your snacking successes (and failures, if you'd like)!