Pandemic Snacking: How to Restore Order in the Kitchen

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Photo by LB Photographs

I’ll be the first to admit: my family’s eating habits are weird.

I like cold pizza for breakfast, and my son eats his yogurt with a side of asparagus. Still, we find ways to maintain a well-balanced diet.

Then quarantine hit. Overnight, our eating habits, and snacking in particular, went from quirky to savage. I’m talking bottomless pit, feed-me-seymour, welcome-to-the-thunderdome snacking. As my husband says, we “ate for sport” and our wallets and waistlines were screaming.

If this sounds like your family, here are a few ways to get back on track:

1. Get your snacks in one place

Choose one area in your pantry and fridge to store snacks.

You can monitor the single point of entry to control inventory and deter snack attacks. Plus, your kids get the illusion of choice when everything is in one spot.

We limit our snacks to one cabinet and a drawer in the fridge. For deep pantries, I recommend using shallow baskets that you can pull out like trays. I found the ones pictured below at the Homegoods in North Kingstown.

To make the most of your vertical space in the fridge, try stackable containers with wide openings in the front. I like the mDesign brand, because they have a few different sizes. You can find them on Amazon or shop their sister brand, InterDesign, in stores.

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snack-organization

2. Ditch the packaging

Make your snacks self-service by removing annoying packaging.

When I get home from food shopping, I remove all wrappers and boxes, and then break down bulk food into single servings. For example, I take granola bars out of the box or make mixed goodie bags of raisins, crackers, and pretzels.

At snack time, my son feels empowered to grab what he needs. (See also: less whining).

I get more space in my cabinets, packing lunch is a breeze, and there’s zero chance of anyone, myself included, housing a box of Cheez-Its in one sitting.

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Excess packaging after a trip to BJs

If you want to take this approach to the next level, try decanting your snacks in clear canisters or jars. High-traffic items like cereal or oatmeal are a good place to start. I recommend containers with a rubber gasket in the lid to keep food fresh.

3. Set boundaries for Snacking

Decide as a family how many snacks are allowed each day and, optionally, how often.

A little structure goes a long way! Following a snack schedule, such as one snack between meals, works for this stage of our lives.

As my son gets older, I’ll probably put a bin of snacks in the fridge each day. He can graze at his leisure and hopefully learn some self-control along the way. If I had more kids, I’d opt for a separate bin per child. I’m still working out trauma from my own brother eating the last [insert your favorite snack here] when we were growing up.

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No matter how you choose to divvy up your snacks, I highly recommend the one-cup rule. Every kid gets one water cup for the day that they can refill and rinse out as needed. I don’t know about you but my tolerance for disassembling, washing, and reassembling sippy cups is pretty darn low.

Conclusion

For many of us, the pandemic has turned our homes upside down.

Following these tips, however, has at least restored a sense of normalcy in our kitchen, and to our snacking. I feel more organized, and there definitely has been a decline in the number of “Mom, what can I eat?” questions. In these times of uncertainty, having even one less question to answer is a win I’ll take any day.

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Patience Sivillo is a Professional Organizer, cat lady, and expert packer. Although she is a transplant from Maine, her love of Lil Rhody is strong! She can find parking off Thames Street, navigate Bristol’s parade route, and hasn’t met an Awful Awful she didn’t like. Patience resides in North Kingstown with her husband and their son, Jackson (2016). She often jokes that the only rule for motherhood is “don’t raise a$$holes.” In a time where technology has eclipsed simpler joys, Patience strives to give her son experiences inspired by her rural upbringing. Her family often travels to Maine to enjoy swimming in the lake, nature walks, and Gan Gan’s homemade bread. As the Owner of Lil Mess Perfect, Patience teaches families how to be more productive and let go of what no longer serves them. She believes that you can do more with less, and has helped clients donate over $30,000 in goods to Rhode Island charities.

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