Snack time is a big deal in my house. As soon as my kids get home from school bags are drop and they head right into the kitchen looking for food. They open the refrigerator, start scanning the shelves, and within 30 seconds I hear “MOMMY, we don’t have ANYTHING to eat”. Then I go into the kitchen, look in the fridge, and find like 50 things for them to eat. Apparently, I am the only one who can see cheese and crackers, baby carrots, apples, and almonds. Moms have special powers.
Anyway, a couple weeks ago as we went through the SAME ROUTINE for the 1000th time I finally asked my kids “Don’t you see all this food?” They each replied “No”. Sigh. Then a light bulb went off. I decided to create a snack area in my fridge. This way my kids know exactly where to look for food and what they can eat. Now I know this is not the same a creating world peace. But…. in my world, the idea for a snack area is borderline life changing.
I saw an immediate change after I implemented the designated snack area. Now there is no whining after school for something to eat. They are able to get their own snack, which gives them a little independence and me a break. It has made snack time a much more pleasant experience.
I also found that having a snack area makes packing lunches easier. As I put lunches together I can grab small bags of grapes, a cheese stick, and some nuts without needing to search through the fridge. Everything is prepared in advance and ready to eat. Grab and go.
It is amazing that something so simple as a designated snack area can make such a big difference. But it did.
Here are some tips for putting together a designated snack area in your refrigerator.
1. Keep food contained using a drawer
The biggest issue with finding snacks to eat was finding snacks to eat. My refrigerator could be packed with cheese sticks, yogurt, fruit, and everything else but if it is not right in front of their faces then it does not exist. My kids need to have everything together and in one place. I think us adults are the same way. We like easy.
To keep all the snacks together I use a removable refrigerator drawer I bought from Target. You can also find them on Amazon. You don’t need anything fancy or a special size. Use what works best for you. I like the clear drawers because you can see all the snacks, especially ones that might fall to the bottom. Remember if they don’t see it then it does not exist.
Organize the snacks neatly in the drawer. I try to keep the snacks scannable. This way my kids can get a accurate read at the snack options with a quick glance.
Then place the drawer on a shelf where they can easily see and access it.
A bonus to a snack drawer is it helps keep your refrigerator organized. Gone are the days of random cheese sticks or go-gurts finding their way to the back of the fridge only to be lost forever. When everything has a place it makes it difficult for things to get lost.
2. Have variety
A snack drawer is only as good as the snacks it contains so I think it is important to have a healthy variety. This keeps it interesting and provides choice. When kids have a choice over their food they are much more likely to eat what is in front of them.
My snack drawer contains fruit (grapes or apples), luna or lara bars, organic greek individual yogurts, bags of almonds, cheese sticks, crackers and other items like this. This gives my family a nice variety to choose from.
Fill your snack drawer with food your family enjoys.
3. Set guidelines or rules
The first week our snack drawer was in place I learned it is important to have rules or guidelines. If not then I guarantee the luna and lara bars will go before anything else and at the end of the week I will be left with all almonds. So I tell my kids that once an item is gone that’s it. There are no refills until the next week.
I also don’t want them filling up on snacks before dinner so I only allow them to have 2 items after school and one of them needs to be a fruit.
Of course, you don’t want to have too many rules because that ruins the fun. A couple guidelines to keep everything organized and under control should be all you need.
4. Be aware of temptations
Having healthy snacks ready to eat is a great way to make sure your family has access to nutritious food in between meals. However, you still need to be careful that these snacks are being controlled. If you find that everyone is reaching into the snack drawer more than they should then this might cause a problem, especially if you are trying to lose weight. Those little bites and snacks add up quickly. So just be aware of the temptations, track your food, and make adjustments if needed.
Overall, having a designated snack area has been very beneficial for my family. Do you use a snack drawer? What are your tips?
Do you prewash the grapes and carrots? How long is it safe to keep them in the bag for?
Melissa hollifield says
I am new to all of this and LOVE the idea of preplanning and prep. My only hesitation is that I try to do everything all at once and get extremely overwhelmed. How can I begin this course and keep myself in check and not try to start out as if I’ve been doing this all along? It is just my nature to jump in with both feet.
Love this Idea!!!
jean norris says
do the grapes last long in the bags or do you they yucky quickly
Tammy Kresge says
I find them to last fine in the bags. But storing them in a mason jar would also be great too.
Even as a grandmother I think all of these ideas are great.
Mary B says
I love this idea, and I love the way it looks! I just got a new fridge, this will be ideal for it, can’t wait to find one of these bins! Thanks for the great idea!
What an amazing idea! Thank you so much for posting. Sharing.
I had a long, narrow bin in the bottom of the fridge that was my son’s designated drinks and snacks. He knew that, once it was gone, that was it for the week, but that didn’t help him monitor himself. I like the family snack drawer idea, even though there is only two of us. I generally keep the fruit out in a basket, but then, my son will eat from both places. I think I’ll try combining all snacks as you have, into the drawer and letting him know he can have 2 at snack time, and one must be a fruit.
I think someone asked this but I don’t see an answer. What’s the “ideal” size for snacks for almonds, grapes, cheese etc. I do use string cheese, but like the idea of fresh cut. The almond serving on MFP seems off and I’m curious what you use. Thanks!
Tammy Kresge says
I use 1/4 cup per serving.
I am new to your blog and love a lot of your recipes already. Loving your Overnight Oats…
This is a great idea especially that it keeps the kids making better choices, for those after school snacks. Thanks for the great ideas! I’m so glad I found your site:)
Great Idea! What if you have 3 children? How would you handle the choices wars? What if one kid always picks the fruit or the crackers and doesn’t leave any for the others? And also, how many of each category would you buy? Thanks!
I would give each kid their own row, and once their favorites are gone they have to make do with what’s left.
Alysia @ Slim Sanity says
I used to do this with a produce drawer, but we moved into a new house recently and we don’t have a good drawer for snacks. This is a GREAT idea – I love the fridge bin. I need to get one of these!
Erin F says
Any suggestions for snack storage options other than plastic bags? We’re trying to move away from them as much as we can, but I love this overall idea. Would love any suggestions you have.
Betsy Miller says
I try not to use plastic bags either. I bought a set of see through reusable plastic bags from Amazon. They are the Go Fresh brand. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=bl_sr_kitchen?ie=UTF8&field-brandtextbin=Go+Fresh+-+Fresh+Snack+Packs&node=284507 I like them because they are see through.
I also have several Lunchskin brand bags, but you can’t see what is in them. My kids won’t usually pick them up and check what is in them. Hope that helps.
Thank you for sharing this wonderful idea. This will sure help me and my family.
I would love to keep keep apples ready to eat..but my kiddo…and really me…like to have apple slices. Do you keep whole apples or sliced? And if sliced…best way to keep them fresh?
Lemon juice keeps apples fresh(er) – but maybe invest in one of those quick cutters and keep it in the fruit bowl? Then you can core & slice an apple in seconds!
you can also use 7 up or sprite instead of lemon juice because it is a citris base.
DIANA MORTON says
I read that you can cut an apple then hold it together w/a rubber band. I haven’t tried it, yet, but I thought it was a neat idea.
I do the rubber band trick in my kids’ lunches and it works very well. You can also add some salt to a bowl of water and let the slices soak in it for a few minutes then dry them and bag them up. This usually gets us fresh apple slices for up to five days. Just don’t overdo the salt. I don’t usually measure but I probably add around 1/2 teaspoon salt to around 4-5 cups of water.
Thanks for this fruit browning tip!
Can you post what a good serving size is for almonds, crackers, grapes, etc? Thanks!!! Love all of your ideas.
I noticed you have some pantry food in the fridge snack bin. Any particular reason you don’t have a separate pantry snack bin?
Tammy Kresge says
It is just easier to keep it all together. My family gets confused easily 🙂
I love this idea so much. I am definitely going to implement this strategy. My boys are also starving after school, this will help stave them off until dinner!