How to Create an After School Snack Cart

Do you ever find yourself struggling to navigate the snack selection in your pantry? Do your kids constantly ask for snacks? Same, friend, same. This is why I decided to create an after-school snack cart for my two toddler girls! I scooped up a cart, some bins, and let me tell you, it’s been a game-changer for our family.

cart filled with snacks

Why a Snack Cart?

The idea for the snack cart came from wanting to give my girls a sense of independence when it comes to choosing their snacks. I wanted them to have easy access to a variety of options while also freeing up cabinet space in our kitchen. With the snack cart, everything is neatly organized and visible, making it easier for the girls to make their selections without any of us having to dig through cabinets.

close up of snack cart filled with snacks
snack cart stocked with snacks

Choosing the Snacks

When selecting snacks for the cart, I focused on items with lower sugar content, aiming for 6 grams or less per serving. This meant prioritizing fruit, such as apple sauce pouches, clementines, and peach fruit cups, as well as healthier alternatives like Teddy Grahams, snack bags of peanut butter-filled pretzels, and Annie’s Homegrown chewy granola bars. I also keep additional fruit, low-fat string cheese, and yogurts in the fridge for added variety.

This week, we stocked up with apple sauce pouches, strawberry apple sauce pouches, clementines, Sun-Maid yogurt covered raisins, mini yogurt raisins (we love them for church and the car) peach cups, Heavenly Hunks, peanut butter filled pretzels, granola bites, Teddy Grahams and Annie’s Homegrown chewy granola bars.

This will last us 2-3 weeks!

hand reaching for clementines

Establishing Rules

To encourage healthy choices, we established some guidelines for the snack cart. Fruit is mostly unlimited, while the other snacks are more controlled, with the girls allowed to choose one per day. This helps them learn about moderation while still enjoying a variety of treats.

hand reaching for snack

Involving the Kids

One of the best parts of the snack cart is involving the girls in the selection process. We go shopping together, and I allow them to pick from a selection of pre-approved options. They love trying new things and are always excited to see what’s in the cart each week. It’s also a great opportunity for them to practice decision-making and explore different flavors and textures.

clementines and apple sauce in snack cart

Benefits for the Family

The snack cart has had numerous benefits for our family. Not only does it give the girls a sense of independence and responsibility, but it also helps my husband and me focus on other tasks, knowing that the girls can easily grab a snack when they’re hungry. It’s especially helpful for us as we work from home, allowing us to stay productive without constant interruptions.

Overall, creating an after-school snack cart has been a game-changer for our family. Not only does it promote independence and healthy choices, but it also streamlines our snack routine and reduces stress for everyone involved. If you’re looking for a simple yet effective way to improve your snack game, I highly recommend giving it a try!

snack cart fully stocked

DIY No-Bake Cookie Boxes

What better day to talk about cookie boxes than on National Cookie Day?! I had high hopes for my Christmas baking this year, but the reality of the third trimester and a now-ten-month-old (!!!!) is that I just can’t bring myself to bake several different types of cookies.

I grabbed most of everything for these cookie boxes from Trader Joe’s. It’s always my favorite place for charcuterie boards, and basically that’s what we’re making here!

I added some customization by melting my favorite Dolci Frutta and dipping two of the cookies in them and then topping them with crushed candy canes and sprinkles.

Here’s what’s in these cookie boxes:

  • Triple Ginger Cookies and Christmas Tree cookies (Trader Joe’s – left them naked and tied the trees with ribbon)
  • Nutella stuffed chocolate chip cookies, for which I used Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (from the regular grocery store)
  • Chocolate Batons from Trader Joe’s
  • Hershey Kisses, Trader Joe’s Almond Butter Cups, Trader Joe’s Peppermint Covered Almonds
  • Peppermint Joe Joe’s dipped in chocolate and crushed candy canes
  • Trader Joe’s shortbread dipped in chocolate and sprinkles (sprinkles from Target!).

Love these boxes for an easy way to DIY something for the holiday but also maintain your sanity. God bless all of you who have the patience to DIY actual cookie boxes from scratch!

New Cookbooks Perfect for Holiday Gifts

One of my favorite gifts – to give or receive – is a great cookbook. There are so many cookbooks that came out this year that would make the perfect gift!

Here are some ideas on how to gift a cookbook:

Pecan Pie Short Bread Bars with Drizzled Chocolate

Don’t you just love making a treat that is like, just a little less effort? Guys, I love a good pie (and I really love a great pecan pie). Forget “easy as pie” – this is “easier than pie!”

Especially at this point in my pregnancy (hey, 29 weeks!), I’m getting tired on my feet, and my belly is getting in the way. Like, to be honest, the idea of rolling out a pie crust right now is not my idea of fun!

Turkey Breast Stuffed with Mushrooms, Bacon and Cranberries

Let’s start this by saying, this isn’t the prettiest thing I’ve made. You’re seeing the second go of this recipe – the first time it was perfect. And it was pretty. I almost wasn’t going to share this because this turkey breast wasn’t as pretty as the first one – but hey. Let’s learn from my mistakes!

So, because of #quarantine, this Thanksgiving is looking a little different. There is basically no reason to make a whole turkey, so a turkey breast is a great alternative! You could even roast some turkey legs, too, if you want the dark meat.

Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce & Goat Cheese Crostini Appetizer Recipe

Can I even just tell you guys how much I love appetizers? It’s just my favorite. A cocktail party is my dream. Tapas is so much fun. I just love having lots of little dishes, especially for entertaining. My favorite gatherings I’ve hosted have been ones where we just serve picky food.

So, here’s a new idea for your Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving table – goat cheese crostini topped with apple cider cranberry sauce!

These crostini are toasted in a pan with butter, giving them a gentle crunch with a soft middle. The creaminess of the goat cheese balances the tang in the cranberry sauce. And then, there’s the cranberry sauce. Sweet. Tangy. A little warm, with a hint of cinnamon.

Baked Camembert with Balsamic Vinegar Caramelized Figs

We’re continuing Friendsgiving week with the PERFECT and EASY fall appetizer you have to make this year, holiday or not. This appetizer is warm, and creamy, and a little sweet – but a lot good. I mean. Really good.

I love an easy appetizer that feels special but doesn’t require a crazy amount of effort (honestly, there’s only a few recipes I’m willing to make that do). But the flavors in this are perfectly balanced, with that tangy, creamy, sweetness. And literally you can put this together in 30 minutes with barely any hands on effort.

Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream with Candied Pecans Recipe

There are two things that are totally essential – and worth it – about this recipe: making the custard base and purchasing the KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment. Because if you like pumpkin spice, and you like ice cream, this recipe is a must. have.

So, I’m sure you’ve seen those no churn recipes that you don’t need an ice cream maker for – the ones that just use condensed milk and heavy cream. I’ve made them before, too, and they’re great. But this ice cream maker is a game changer. And my favorite thing? It has to store in the freezer, so it’s not even in the kitchen taking up space.

Sausage and Roasted Grape Stuffing with Rosemary and Thyme

Can you imagine a Thanksgiving table without stuffing? It’s 100% my favorite part of the meal! Savory, satisfying, crunchy, soft, salty. It’s so much all in one bite. This year, I’m dishing out this sausage and roasted grape stuffing with rosemary and thyme.

Using breakfast sausage, rosemary and thyme brings those traditional flavors of the holidays I’m sure we are all gravitating towards, especially this year. But the roasted grapes – they bring something a little more unique to the table. They’re soft but still firm enough that they give you a burst of sweet juice when you take a bite.

Butter, Garlic and Parmesan Roasted Acorn Squash

Welcome to Friendsgiving week! I love using Friendsgiving as an excuse to create some fun, non traditional dishes. I hope you love the recipes this week and it inspires you to try something new, whether a small Thanksgiving gathering or a socially-distanced-outdoor-mask-wearing-be-smart-Friendsgiving.

If you haven’t made acorn squash yet, this recipe is your reason to try it! I always see stuffed acorn quash for a Thanksgiving side, but I cut these into slices and roasted them up in butter, garlic and parmesan. Can I even tell you how amazing the house smelled?!