Parenting Hack: Avoiding the Snack Wars

picDFPPez Now that all three kids are in school (and there was much rejoicing!) I'm trying to find ways to simplify life. One of my sources of stress has been after-school snacks. I try to provide a number of decent options, but in the past it drove me crazy to have the girls come home and start jockeying for stuff. I've been torn between giving them the freedom to choose what they want and trying to teach them about balance and nutrition.

Can I have a granola bar after I eat this graham cracker with peanut butter? (No, those are both the same kind of food. Eat an apple.)

I also got put in the middle of some annoying altercations.

She ate the last of the fruit snacks! No fair! All that's left are raisins and I hate those. (Tough. Eat an apple.)

Now with Sweet Baby James in the mix, I knew I had to head off these snack kerfuffles before they started sucking my will to live. So here's my solution:

1. Each week I make or buy one snack, and that's the snack for the week. These are generally grain-based snacks and may be granola bars or muffins or even frozen whole grain waffles.

2. If they do not want the snack of the week, or if they eat it and are still hungry, they are welcome to serve themselves anything from the fruit and vegetable drawer, a hard-boiled egg, or a piece of string cheese. (No Caroline and Margaret, I will not wash those grapes for you. Yes James, I will peel your carrot.)

I'd say it's working pretty well in that I am not a ragey mess from all the negotiating and needling. But this week I made these pumpkin granola bars and Margaret said they "make her gag." OK, I guess I'm still honing my repertoire. So if you have any suggestions of easy crowd-pleasing snacks that aren't nutritionally terrible, please let me know and I'll pin them to my "afterschool" board on Pinterest. Store-bought suggestions are also appreciated, because there ain't no shame in that.

P.S. No cutesy snacks that require complicated assemblage. The above is about as crafty as I care to get with food.