This Two-Ingredient Snack Makes Me an After-School Superhero

published Aug 22, 2023
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Credit: Photo: Christopher Broe; Food Stylist: Tyna Hoang

School days for my kids are so different from when I went to school. Among other things, homework has been whittled down to mostly optional, kindergarten is a full-on school day, and lunch can be as early as 10:30 or 11 a.m.! 

This last thing blows my mind. My elementary schoolers get a snacktime, but it’s usually in the morning, which means that by the time they get home from school, it could be almost five hours since they’ve eaten — which for little kids is a long time without food. As they take off their backpacks and unpack their folders, they’re ravenous and, frankly, grouchy. Poor kids. 

Getting an after-school snack into them is a lot like watching those time-lapse videos of thirsty plants that come alive once they’ve been watered. The grouchiness disappears, the school-day stories begin to flow, and our afternoon continues relatively peacefully. 

Clearly, making sure my kids have an afternoon snack is imperative. I want the snack to be filling (I really don’t enjoy it when they graze all afternoon, especially while I’m making dinner!), nutritious, and something they’ll actually eat. I also don’t want to feel like I’m preparing a fourth meal. The best is when I can have the snack ready when they get home or a few minutes after, but I also don’t want to dig too much into my work block

Some days I put together quick snack platters with some fruit, a carb option like Trader Joe’s letter cookies, and some kind of protein, like mozzarella cheese sticks. Other days it’s a “choose your own adventure” situation, where the kids scrounge and I try not to micromanage their choices.

But some days I whip up a special snack that gets me lots of cool mom points: nachos!

Why Nachos Make the Perfect After-School Snack

The nachos are so super easy to make, and they only require two ingredients: tortilla chips and shredded cheese. But there are a few little tweaks I make to switch things up and keep this beloved, simple snack from getting ho-hum. While regular tortilla chips and shredded cheddar are the classic go-to, I often opt for Trader Joe’s blue corn tortilla chips. They’re sturdy enough to hold up to toppings, but they’re thin enough to provide a perfect crunch and salt-to-chip ratio. I top these with shredded Unexpected Cheddar, also from Trader Joe’s, and the combination elevates the snack from basic to almost… elegant? If that can be said of nachos?  

Get the recipe: How to Make Quick and Easy Sheet Pan Nachos at The Kitchn

In addition to swapping out the staples, if I have time (and the ingredients) I’ll sometimes make some pico de gallo or chop up some tomatoes, or I’ll dollop the chips and cheese with sour cream and some guac. To get some extra protein in there, I’ll often grab a can of black beans, rinse and drain it, and sprinkle them over the nachos. Honestly, by this point we practically have dinner! (A great dinner, by the way.) 

I love lighting up my kids’ eyes with a snack they love, and I really love making them feel happy when they have friends over after school. Two-ingredient nachos, doctored up or not, gets cheers from everybody every time and makes me feel like a snack time superhero. 

Cubby: Eat. Live. Play. Families Together at Home.

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