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My three year old son has an independent streak that would rival anyone of any age. This encompasses his need to get his own food. Goodness forbid I get him something when he is being extra independent feeling, because then it is complete toddler meltdown mode for him. He will grab whatever I got (even if it is something he wanted), throw it back where it came from, turn around, walk back to the cupboard, and grab the same thing right out again and instantly be happy. Ah, toddlers. To help support his independence, yet still have control over what, and how much he grabs of his snack foods, I made a snack bucket. Believe me, the time it takes to do this will reward you ten fold in how many fewer arguments, and spilled boxes of crackers there would have been.
I try to score snack foods that I think are more or less nutritionally acceptable (please don't judge what you see in the picture, I swear he does not live off of this) for my son when they are on sale, I have a coupon, or they are a good deal at places like Sam's Club. I bought a few boxes of snack size ziploc bags at the store (generic brand work just fine, it is what I use and have no problems). I had a large, flat, maybe 6 in tall storage bin that fit perfectly the depth of my cupboard. Every few weeks I take half an hour or so and measure out servings sizes of the snack food (I use a food scale, best kitchen investment ever!), usually doing a containers worth of each kind just so I don't have to store the bucket and the boxes. I put each serving in a snack size baggie and then I re-purposed a bunch of the snack food boxes as little dividers. I know it is not particularly aesthetically pleasing, but it didn't cost any extra money, and they can be replaced when you put new snacks in and have more empty boxes. For some like the nutri-grain bars, I just tear off the top tabs and put the whole box in there.
This makes packing his lunch for preschool in the morning quick, easy, and generally less confrontational. I open the cupboard, pull it out, and let him pick out a few things to add to his lunch. No measuring, no bagging, no arguing for the most part. He knows that if it is in his snack bucket it is ok for him to choose, and that is that. (I cleaned out prime real estate in my cupboard on a shelf he could reach, just so that I could put this in there, and besides, it is taking the place of all the containers of snack food, but it shows how much I think this is worth it). It makes him feel like a big boy because he is picking what is going in his lunch and packing it, and I feel better knowing that it is one less arguement, and he isn't over eating the junk food.
Believe me, it is worth the time to measure out the portions and organize it. Now I know that when he has a snack, he is not eating the whole box, or wasting the whole box of whatever it is.