16 After-School Snacks That Won’t Ruin Dinner

Whether it’s a work day or a school day (or both), there is always that time between getting home and getting dinner on the table when everyone wants to snack. It’s natural to come home, relax, and feel the hunger start to set in. But snacking can ruin an appetite for dinner in a hurry if it’s done wrong. These sixteen after-school snacks will get everyone through from the moment they walk in the door until dinner is on the table and still leave everyone with enough of an appetite to enjoy a full meal.

1. Date and Oat Energy Balls

A closeup of Date And Oat Energy Balls in an open, glass jar.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Just one or two of these is enough to power you through until dinner. These are a deliciously sweet and hearty snack that don’t require a lot for you to fill up on. These date and oat energy balls can be kept in the freezer and eaten directly from the freezer if you like them cold. Otherwise, they will keep in the fridge for up to a week.

2. No-Bake Granola Bars

A stack of three No Bake Granola Bars sitting on a white piece of parchment paper.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

These homemade, no-bake granola bars are a great weekend recipe you can make to prep for the week ahead. These bars are delicious, hearty, chewy, and soft, and just one will get you from the afternoon through to dinner. You can freeze these if you wrap them well, and just take out the number you need the night before so they are ready to eat the next day.

3. Blueberry Corn Muffins

An overhead view of a pile of Blueberry Corn Muffins on a white plate.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

These blueberry corn muffins make a wonderful, sweet snack This was actually one of Elvis’ favorite snacks, and this remake would make him proud. These whole-grain muffins are the perfect snack for getting rid of the “hangries” and keeping them at bay until dinner. They freeze really well, so you can make a double batch and freeze them for future snacks. These are also wonderfully portable for after-school or after-work activities.

4. Avocado Toast With Everything Bagel Seasoning

Two slices of Everything Bagel Avocado Toast lay on a wooden surface.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Avocado toast is great, but adding some seasoning to that toast makes it even better. Here’s how to make avocado toast with everything bagel seasoning. Just one or two slices is enough to get you through the house between work and dinner, and you can feel good knowing you are snacking on healthy food. Even the kids will adore this.

5. Coconut Granola Bars

A pile of coconut granola bars on a wood surface.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

If you have a little time before you pick the kids up, try making a quick batch of these coconut granola bars. they are hearty, filling, and delicious but won’t ruin dinner. These are a higher-calorie snack, so a little will go a long way, which means this recipe will last you a while. Put extras in the freezer and enjoy these for weeks to come.

6. Banana Pudding

A side view of a white bowl filled with banana pudding and topped with chopped nuts.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

You can’t go wrong with only the purest of ingredients in a bowl of pudding. If you or your kids want a little something sweet after school, you can give them this without any guilt or worry whatsoever. This delicious, soft, and creamy banana pudding is so quick and easy to make that you won’t believe how quickly you can get a bowl of this on the table, and you don’t have to let it sit in the fridge to chill, either.

7. Coconut Popcorn

Popcorn on the wooden table, in a wooden bowl.
Photo Credit: Oxana Denezhkina/Shutterstock.

Popcorn is the ultimate kid’s snack. I haven’t met a child yet who doesn’t like popcorn, and it’s quick and easy to make, but won’t fill them (or you) up so much that they won’t want dinner. This recipe here for coconut popcorn is delicious and simple to make, and if you have any after-school activities, it travels well, too.

8. Polenta Fries

A white bowl with marinara and three polenta fries resting in the sauce.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

These polenta fries are a quick snack you can whip up the moment you get home. They are ready in minutes, and a small amount will fill you up without completely annihilating your appetite for dinner. Keep the portions small, but enjoy this comfort food as a way to tide you over.

9. Cottage Cheese With Berries

Cottage cheese and blueberry in a bowl on a table.
Photo Credit: NatalyaBond/Shutterstock.

Most kids don’t generally go straight for a container of cottage cheese. But add a little fruit, some chia seeds, and maybe a touch of honey, and they’ll be asking for it again and again. This blueberry cottage cheese is an epic combination for kids and adults alike, and it will still leave you with an appetite for dinner.

10. Guacamole and Chips

Guacamole in a mortar. The pestle stands in the guacamole.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Guacamole is easy to make and will definitely help fill up any empty tummies without making them overly full. This easy guacamole recipe is great served with corn chips or raw veggie sticks and is the perfect late-day snack before dinner. Leftovers can be packed up and kept in the fridge for sack lunches the next day.

11. Banana Wraps

A cut banana wrap sits on a white background. You can see the layers of the whole grain wrap, nut butter and the bananas.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

If you’re looking for a fast and easy snack you or the kids can eat on the go (like in the car on the way home!), this banana wrap is a wonderful option. The peanut butter is satisfying and the fiber from the banana and the wrap are filling. But with a single portion, nobody will get too full to enjoy dinner.

12. Strawberry Frozen Yogurt Bark

Pieces of Strawberry Frozen Yogurt Bark laying on a sheet pan.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

If it’s a frozen treat that everyone is craving, this strawberry frozen yogurt bark is a delicious treat that will make everyone think they are eating ice cream instead of this surprisingly healthy snack. These are prepped quickly and easily, and you eat these straight from the freezer.

13. Granola

A closeup of an open canning jar filled with maple cinnamon granola.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Granola is always a wonderfully portable and filling snack. This delicious granola recipe won’t leave you or your kids wanting. Just put a little dry granola in a bowl for them to munch on while they do homework or watch TV. Picking at something small like this is a great way to feel like you are filling up on something without actually overdoing it.

14. Air Fryer Apple Chips

Parchment paper holds a bowlful of apple chips.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

If you can’t get the kids to eat fruit, it’s only because you haven’t given it to them in the form of chips. These air fryer apple chips are an epically healthy way to get the kids to enjoy healthier snacks. Serve these with a bit of peanut butter, and nobody will complain about eating healthier.

15. Cinnamon Butternut Squash Fries

A white bowl holds a small pile of cinnamon butternut squash fries.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

These cinnamon butternut squash fries make a fabulous snack for after school or after work. They are completely satisfying without ruining your appetite for dinner. You can purchase pre-cut squash (as shown in the picture) and simply toss them with some seasoning for a delicious, healthful snack everyone will love.

16. Peanut Butter Fruit Dip

An overhead view of a white bowl filled with peanut butter fruit dip. Fresh strawberries and apple slices lay around the bowl.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Some fresh fruit and some of this peanut butter fruit dip is a wonderful snack the whole family will enjoy, A little of this will go a long way, so don’t overdo it. But this is a great snack that gives you a little something sweet after a long day, but still helps you fill up on healthier foods.

More From The Gracious Pantry

An overhead view of a charcuterie board with veggies, pita chips, and two bowls of dip.
Photo Credit: JeniFoto and Shutterstock.

Home with the kids? This snack tray idea is a great way to get them to snack on healthy foods all day and quit bugging you for snacks. Works for adults, too!

This originally appeared on The Gracious Pantry.

Author: Tiffany McCauley

Title: Food and Travel Journalist

Expertise: Food, cooking, travel


Tiffany McCauley is a nationally syndicated journalist and an award-winning cookbook author and food blogger. She has been featured on MSN, Huffington Post, Country Living Magazine, HealthLine, Redbook, and many more. Her food specialty is healthy comfort food recipes.

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