Snack time should be easy—no one wants to cook an entire meal before they even get started on dinner!

Fresh Squash Chips
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| Credit: Beth Dreiling Hontzas

Beth Dreiling Hontzas

Every parent has been there: it's at least an hour before supper and the kids are starving. Keep them from raiding the kitchen pantry and spoiling their appetites with these simple but satisfying snacks. Most of these recipes can be made ahead, so you'll always have something healthy right at hand.

Herbed Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
Recipe: Herbed Buttermilk RanchRecipe: Lemony RanchRecipe: Blue Cheese RanchRecipe: Avocado RanchMaster the main recipe for Herbed Buttermilk Ranch Dressing, then try one (or all) of the riffs for delicious flavors that will dazzle your greens.
| Credit: Alison Miksch

1. Buttermilk Ranch with Fresh Veggies

Ranch dip from a packet is an all-time kid favorite, but once you've turned them onto this fresh homemade version, made with buttermilk and herbs, they may never ask for the powdered kind again. Serve with baked pita chips and plenty of crisp vegetables for dipping.

2. Our Favorite Hummus

Hummus is a perfect after-school snack for a reason, it's packed with healthy protein, a great vehicle for veggies, and won't spoil dinner. If your kids are older and interested in cooking, let them whip up a batch of this easy recipe themselves, using a food processor. Hummus is best when chilled for a few hours, so make a double batch of it on the weekend and you'll be all set for the school week.

Microwave Snack Mix
| Credit: Van Chaplin

Van Chaplin / Food Styling Angela Sellers

3. Microwave Snack Mix

Try this surprisingly delicious twist on the usual bagged snack mix. Ours has a sweet-savory mix of rice cereal seasoned with ranch seasoning, plus dried cherries, chocolate candies, and pretzel pieces. Divide up the mix into small plastic sandwich bags to keep kids (and adults) from filling up.

4. Deviled Eggs

This Southern classic is a party staple, but it makes a fun and unexpected after-school snack that's packed with protein. Pipe the egg filling into plastic sandwich bags, snip off one corner, and let the kids stuff their own eggs.

Roasted Garlic-Edamame Spread
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| Credit: Southern Living

Southern Living

5. Roasted Garlic Edamame Spread

Do your little ones love steamed edamame? Turn those little green soybeans into a deliciously creamy dip made with ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and basil. Roasting the garlic makes it mellow and sweet, but you can cut back or omit it if your kids don't like the flavor.

6. Squash Chips

We won't claim that squash chips are more irresistible than potato chips, but you might be surprised at how tasty they actually are! Soaking thinly sliced squash in cold water makes them refreshingly crunchy.

Strawberries with Mint Yogurt Dip
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7. Strawberries with Mint-Yogurt Dip

Not all dips have to be savory. Pair strawberries (or any dippable fruit, like melon, pineapple, or bananas) with this light and sweet yogurt dip.

8. Spiced Pecans

A handful of nuts is an excellent way to stave off hunger, for kids and adults alike. Pecans are an especially smart choice because they are packed with healthy antioxidants. These pecans, sweetened with apple juice, apple pie spice, and a touch of sugar, are packed with flavor too.

Banana-Pecan Smoothies
Recipe:Banana-Pecan SmoothiesBananas, pecans, cinnamon, and honey blended together combine the flavors of summer and fall in this easy smoothie recipe.
| Credit: Photo: Jennifer Davick

9. Smoothies

If you have a few ingredients and a blender, you can almost always make a smoothie. For a rich and creamy treat, try our Banana-Pecan Smoothie. For a frosty, fruity drink, go for our Strawberry-Rhubarb Smoothie. (It calls for homemade strawberry-rhubarb jam but you can use any jam your kids like.)