Eliminate Snacking From Your Home to Simplify Kitchen Work and Enjoy Meals More

Eliminate Snacking From Your Home to Simplify Kitchen Work and Enjoy Meals More

The rate of snacking has doubled since the 1970s, with now 25% of our calories coming from snacks (source). As we are simplifying our life, we may have neglected the idea of streamlining when and how we eat.

Note from Rachel: This is a guest post from my friend Cara who writes at Health Home and Happiness. A couple years ago she inspired me to cut snacking from my house as well, and I have loved having less kitchen mess to clean up, less whining and negotiating about food with the kids, and more freedom to leave the house without having to pack snacks for everyone. You can read more about how cutting snacks and eliminating picky eating makes the home more peaceful, and routines simpler to accomplish in the Picky Eating Solution – a free webinar for my readers! Click here to sign up.

Do we want to spend time, effort, and money on preparing, eating, and cleaning up after snacks daily? Is this a habit we want our children to have?

What would we have time for if we added up all the time in a week spent planning for, preparing, and cleaning up after our children’s, and our, snacking habits?

My Family Stopped Snacking and Started Eating

Stopping snacking has many benefits for the family who is focused on mindfullness. I’m going to tell you how we implemented the ‘no snack’ policy in our home further down, but for now, let’s look at the benefits to stopping snacking:

  • You’re hungrier for meals, and more likely to eat healthier protein and veggies rather than refined carbohydrates that snacks so often are.
  • Your digestive system gets a chance to complete its job, rather than having food in various stages of digestion all day long.
  • No more food messes to sweep up all day long, and your car is free of goldfish, hidden sippy cups, and pretzel crumbs!
  • Your body is trained to expect food at certain times, and therefore you’re able to do an afternoon of errands, go for a walk to the park, and complete a project around the house without stopping to eat, or packing food to bring along.
  • Dishes are always caught up because you only need to do them three times a day.
  • You are able to shed that last 10 lbs because it’s easier to stay within your calorie goals when you only eat 3 times a day.
  • The kids stop whining about food when they’re bored. They know that you eat at 7, noon, and 6 and that’s that.
  • You are able to get the nutrients your body needs to thrive and have energy, without empty-calorie snack foods.
  • You’re better able to meal plan and follow recipes for dinner, since you know everyone will be hungry then.

I thought eating frequently was good for you?

There is some controversy about this. As you can see in the study above, in the past 40 years we have doubled the amount of snacking we, in the US, do. We have seen the rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes raise during this same time. We also have seen our kids get PICKY. If you spend time with preschoolers or other young children, you will quickly see that many of them eat little bits all day long, and completely refuse their meals with the family at meal time.

In other cultures, (I’ve read about this in France quite a bit) the children and adults don’t snack at all. Knowing that other cultures have children that grow and thrive without snacking made me want to try it in my own family.

It turns out that hunger is actually something you feel when your body “expects” food, not when you really need to eat. Within a week of eliminating snacking from our home, I found that in both adults and kids, we didn’t get ‘hungry’ unless it was right before meal time.

As the kids grow and their calorie needs change, they eat more or less at meal time so I make sure I have plenty available to fill their calorie needs.

Okay this sounds GREAT. How can I convince my family?

The younger your children are, the easier this will be, and yes even toddlers can get used to eating at set times*. If your children are young, and used to requesting snacks all day long, start by having them sit down at the table for all their snacks. Then set times when snack is, and get them used to the idea of only eating at designated times and places.

Soon they will become more creative, and stop heading to the kitchen at the first sign of boredom. They also will eat better at meals, making it so they can go longer before feeling hungry. When children eat willingly at meals, your dinner table is filled with joy and peace, rather than negotiation and strife over negotiating with children about food.

For older children, you need a bit more of their cooperation to have this work smoothly. Ask them their opinion about stopping snacking, show them how you’ll have more time, energy, and money to do fun things that they love if the snacks stop, and if they are health-motivated, point out the health benefits that will come from getting out of the snack habit and into the habit of eating 3 square meals a day.

*Because school lunch rooms are chaotic, I let my kids finish their lunches when they get home from school, and I do give my toddler a piece of apple or something else small to eat when they are finishing their lunches, but otherwise he doesn’t snack either.

My kids have sensory issues, though..

Yes! I understand that. Sometimes ‘picky eating’ goes beyond just a preference, or not being hungry enough. If kids are on the spectrum and/or if they have sensory issues, they will actually starve themselves to the point of physical harm unless you attack the picky eating from the root. Read more about that in the Gut Flora-Picky Eating Connection, and listen to the webinar for how we solve this problem.

How do I learn more?

About the author:

Guest Post on Eliminating Picky EatingCara lives in Montana with her 3 active kiddos. She enjoys an ‘eat to live’ philosophy, where health-giving food is enjoyed as a way to connect with her family and fuel them for their fun outdoor activities. She loves hiking, skiing, fishing, and exploring the great outdoors with the kids. She blogs at Health Home and Happiness, and writes Grain-Free Meal Plans to simplify your time in the kitchen by providing you with recipes and grocery lists for 3 meals a day, 7 days a week. You can click here for a free 3-day sample menu and check out her blog here.




About the author, Rachel

Hi there! Iā€™m Rachel Jones, and I founded Nourishing Minimalism in 2012 at the beginning of my minimalist journey. If you're looking for encouragement in your journey, I go live in my FREE Facebook Groups every weekday- feel free to join me there: Nourishing Minimalism Facebook Group


  1. Laura on 01/29/2016 at 5:13 PM

    This is perfect! I have been doing no snacks for a few months now. Pregnant with 3 kids, so much easier. I just read “French kids eat everything,” great book from written by a Canadian mom who spent a year abroad with her family. Great perspective on healthy variety and property mealtimes. I can definitely keep myself and kids from snacking without trouble, it only gets hard when my husband (or guests!) try to snack in front of the kids. It can get awkward fast when I quickly say, “sure, help yourself! But my kids aren’t allowed to snack, so don’t offer them any. Lunch will be in an hour.” Kids learn faster than adults. I now actually find it weird when adults come to visit and ask for food between meals!

    • Kathy on 07/17/2016 at 1:21 PM

      That is mean to indulge adult requests for snacking: adults need to model the eating behavior they want for kids; that’s standard advice from a dietician. If kids don’t snack as part of house rules, then adults in the house should not either. The only exception is if the adult is diabetic and needs to snack in a regular manners as per health medical requirements.

  2. Jessica - Living with Intention on 01/29/2016 at 11:24 PM

    Here, here! Thank you so much for sharing. I’ve eliminated snacking as well, but I never made the connection of how this makes meals, prep and cleanup so much simpler.

  3. Sue on 02/04/2016 at 5:09 PM

    This is such an original and practical idea! I can’t believe it never dawned on my before. Thanks for sharing and for including all the benefits of making this choice.

  4. Lauren on 02/04/2016 at 6:38 PM

    While I agree it would save a lot of work, I Think snacking can be healthy. Now, I agree a lot of snacking happens because our diets are deficient because of so much junk, and snacks tend to be junk In Our culture. I also agree it CAN develop eating out of habit versus hunger. But not always. In fact, I think teaching my kids to listen to their bodies in this regard has helped them know high when they are hungry and full better than ignore their signals because someone says it isn’t meal time. There are so many times I see my kids save part of their dessert for later because they got full. I see other kids who are forced to wait scarf stuff down like wild animals, their parents say they can’t have dessert until they finish everything on their plate, so the kids shoves everything down,then shoves dessert down when already full. Not saying it happens with everyone of course, but I see that play out frequently with families that don’t allow snacking because of cost or work involved. Think of a young baby. They don’t eat because they already expect it, it us instinct and reaction to hunger. No pattern has been established to a newborn. They are hungry, communicate it, and mom responds- or doesn’t. An infant has a tiny stomach, which is why they need small frequent meals. When you nurse on demand, it also prevents baby from having to wait for the clock, then being so hungry they over eat and spit up all over the place. So many people wait and are so hungry by the time it is meal time they end up eating fast and over eat. Anyway, I’ve noticed with nursing on demand, it naturally progresses into frequent snacking as little kids, but reduces gluttony. It changes as they get older, of course, but you still need to allow for changes like growth spurts. Kids grow at a ridiculous rate and their intake changes frequently, even based on a more strenuous day. I notice my boys in particular eat through growth spurts, whereas girls tend to sleep through them. If we are too rigid with food we end up creating problems, too when my boys don’t get enough to eat, or over eat when it is available. That said, I do think there are benefits to fasting but for those who are older and not growing as much and it can be a choice. There are things you can do to counteract the “work” and make things more efficient, and make healthy snacks available. A piece of fruit and a handful of nuts, for example, requires no extra dishes, just hold in your hand while eating.

    • Cara on 02/14/2016 at 7:02 PM

      Hi Lauren šŸ™‚ You and I came to different conclusions from what sounds like similar parenting. I use nurse on demand with my infants (and my 3rd still spit up all over the place šŸ™‚ ), and then schedule nursing with my toddlers, and I never introduce snacks. As they wean they get used to just the 3 meals that our family eats. If snacking works for you, by all means do it, it just doesn’t work for us šŸ™‚

  5. Ericka on 02/04/2016 at 9:04 PM

    I agree with Lauren. Yay Lauren! I believe that we need to trust our instincts and desires when it comes to food. Food is also emotional, but too many of us have received messages that food is bad for us and that we need to worry about whether we are doing it right. This can lead to faulty thinking and possible eating disorders later. Also, our bodies are always going to make sure that we have enough, so if we deny, our bodies will try and make up for it somehow down the road. Culturally, in this country we are just way too obsessed with weight, and it’s only been in the last 100 years or so that being thin was fashionable. I for one, like the work of cooking and eating! In other countries, food is not seen as a villain like it is here, and meals are long and enjoyable. I say let’s stop being so preoccupied with food, and enjoy it, relish it, and take care of our bodies.

    Let’s be less worried about having tidy lives, and more interested in lavishing decadent, delicious food on those that we love. Studies have shown that when you eat food without guilt, our bodies use it better than when we eat in a stressful(I’m so so hungry) environment. By the way, I do not believe that sex is just for procreation, nor should food be just for nourishment.

    Yep. It’s scary, to let go and trust that it’s really going to be okay if we eat what we truly want, and trust that those we love want to give to us, instead of withholding.

Leave a Comment