Got kids who are always hungry? Let’s rephrase that, got kids? Then you need some healthy, cheap snacks to make sure they’re satisfied in good ways without sending you into hock.
This collection of cheap snacks ideas will keep your kids happy while helping you maintain control over the grocery budget. Win-win for everyone!
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
- 1. Seasonal Fruit
- 2. Ants on a Log
- 3. Muffins
- 4. Yogurt with Jam, Maple Syrup, or Honey
- 5. Applesauce
- 6. Chocolate-Covered Bananas
- 7. Cheese Slices and Homemade Bread
- 8. Veggies and Hummus or Homemade Ranch
- 9. Croutons
- 10. Let them eat cake!
- Learn More in the Mom’s Kitchen Survival Workshop
- Now it’s your turn!
It would seem that kids are always hungry: breakfast, 2nd breakfast, elevensies, luncheon…. Oh wait! Is that hobbits or kids?
Same thing, really.
While three (or more) good meals are a great base, a healthy afternoon snack can be just the ticket to help kids — and adults — make it through the 3:00 slump.
Truth is that cheap snacks, at least the commercial variety, are junk food. And they’re not really that cheap. A dollar does not buy a lot of neon colored cheese-flavored fishy crackers.
If you’re looking to move away from a steady diet of expensive, processed foods toward more wholesome fare, perhaps you’ve been looking for ways to provide snacks without resorting to boxed crackers, gummies, and other pre-packaged foods. At the same time, you need to serve healthy snacks that won’t break the bank!
Can healthy snacks be cheap snacks? You betcha!
Check out these ten healthy cheap snacks that are mostly unprocessed, feature seasonal foods, and won’t bust the budget.
1. Seasonal Fruit
Eating fruit in season is a great way to save money. The fruit is fresh, flavorful, readily available, and typically on sale!
- Summer: Load up on grapes, cherries, and stone fruits such as nectraines, peaches, and plums.
- Fall: Serve apple slices with a healthy dip like nut or seed butters or even a little maple whipped cream. Pears, persimmons, and pomegranates are also on sale in the fall!
- Winter: Citrus fruits are king during the winter months. Focus on oranges, clementines, and grapefruits; be sure to cut grapefruit the best way.
- Spring: Enjoy the arrival of the first fruits of the year: strawberries and apricots are the heralds of spring.
2. Ants on a Log
Ants on a log are a classic cheap snack of celery spread with nut or seed butter and dotted with craisins or raisins. Kids love them! At least the ones that aren’t creeped out by the idea of eating ants.
Celery is typically a very affordable vegetable, ranging from fifty cents to $2.00 per stalk or head. Store celery in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Limp celery can often be revitalized by an ice water bath.
I’m able to get a wealth of veggies into my kids when I bake them into muffins and quick breads. These Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins will put a smile on any kid’s face. Go sparingly with the chocolate. A little goes a long way. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins are great in fall.
Keep a few batches of this Homemade Muffin Mix on hand so that you can quickly and easily serve homemade muffins for less than a dollar a dozen! You can even Freeze Muffins, making it even easier to provide a quick, cheap snack for your kids.
4. Yogurt with Jam, Maple Syrup, or Honey
This is one of my favorite cheap snacks! Don’t buy those expensive, sugary yogurt cups. You can top plain yogurt, preferably full fat because it tastes creamier, with jam, maple syrup, or honey. In this way you have more real food and you get to control the flavors and the sugar.
If you buy the yogurt in large containers, you can usually find it cheap or on sale.
Applesauce is a very cheap snack, packed with vitamins and fiber. You can buy large jars and dole it out, or make your own in the crockpot. It freezes extremely well, meaning that you can maximize your time by making a ginormous batch. My kids like to eat it still partially frozen, like a slushie.
If pears are on sale, you can make pear sauce in the same way.
6. Chocolate-Covered Bananas
These frozen bits of deliciousness, chocolate-covered bananas are quick to pull together. They taste almost like ice cream – only less guilt-inducing and a little bit healthier.
You can also make and freeze chocolate dipped banana bites. Use dark chocolate for a little added health benefit.
Other fruits such as melon or berries can be frozen and dipped in chocolate as well.
7. Cheese Slices and Homemade Bread
Baking fresh bread is not all that difficult, especially when you have a bread machine or follow the 5-minute Artisan Bread method. It’s easy, quick, and much cheaper than storebought bread.
Hand your kids some cheese and a chunk of bread for a very Hobbit-like snack.
8. Veggies and Hummus or Homemade Ranch
You’ll be amazed at how much more veggies folks — both young and old — will eat when they’re served as part of a veggie tray alongside hummus or ranch dips.
Keep cucumbers, pepper strips, carrot sticks, and celery on hand for quick healthy cheap snacks. It’s super easy and economical to make your own veggie tray.
Got leftover bread that no one wants to eat in a sandwich? Transform it into croutons. Sure, croutons usually top salads. But, when I make homemade croutons, very few make it to the salad bowl!
Toss bread cubes with a little melted butter or olive oil and toast them in the oven or in a pan on the stovetop.
You can season croutons with garlic powder and cheese or go in the other direction and douse them with a little cinnamon sugar. Either way = yum!
10. Let them eat cake!
Whether it’s a quick bread or snack cake, sweet baked goodies are a perfect little pick-me-up. Use whole wheat pastry flour and you’ve included a whole grain. Plus, these bake quickly without a lot of fuss.
Boost their nutrition even further by adding seasonal fruit or even vegetables. This Easy Carrot Bread Recipe and this Pear Cake are favorites with our family as well as with friends. There are never leftovers!
Healthy, cheap snacks are totally possible. With a little advance prep work, you’ll never need to reach for the nuclear colored cheese dip again.
Learn More in the Mom’s Kitchen Survival Workshop
Need a little extra motivation to get on your meal planning game? Want to make lunch packing less of a drag? Creating a kitchen survival kit to help you WIN in the kitchen this school year.
I’d love for you to join me for the next Mom’s Kitchen Survival Workshop!
Together, we’ll create a plan to help you get dinner on the table every night, fill your freezer with wholesome snacks and breakfasts, finesse your lunch-packing skills, and even make sure you get a daily dose of MOM food.
Learn more here so that when registration opens, you won’t miss out.
This post was originally published on September 13, 2018. It has been updated for content and clarity.
Great list. We eat dried fruit such as raisins, apricots, and figs. We also like guacamole with raw veggies.
For snacking time:
-English muffin pizzas-toast the muffins before spreading with homemade pizza sauce (I make my own for these tiny pizzas out of the little can of tomato sauce by adding garlic powder and Italian seasoning, then freeze using an ice cube tray. Once frozen, place the cubes in a bag in the freezer, then take out individually and thaw a few seconds in microwave, before spreading one cube for each side of the muffin) add meat/mushrooms/leftover veggies etc. then a slice or shredded cheese on top to broil. Yum!
-frozen washed grapes/berries etc. Place individually on cookie sheet to freeze many at once, then portion out into individual bags. They’re like tiny popsicles.
Great suggestions! Thank you for your input!
Frozen grapes are a big fave at our house, especially in summer but all year round, too. When they go on sale, I freeze them on trays, then put handfuls in smaller containers, ready to grab.
Also mini cups of homemade mac n’ cheese go into our freezer for kid snacks.
Great cake! Made it 2 nights ago and it was devoured. 🙂 I did double the spices, including zest – except cinnamon – I used 1tsp cinn in the cake and another 1/2tsp in the topping. So good. Only downside? The family wants me to make it again immediately…..
oh – I also used a 8X8 regular glass baking pan – cooked an extra 20min or so – worked fine.
Those fall snacks look delicious! This is our favorite fall snack…apple crisps! http://eco18.com/recipe-apple-crisps/
Katy @ Purposely Frugal
Thanks so much for this list! Snacks seem to be the hardest foods to get cheap and healthy!
We like a lot of the snacks you mentioned and also popcorn, crackers with peanut butter and homemade trail mix using cheap ingredients like peanuts, raisins and banana chips.
Great Post! Great recipes! What is is about after school snack? My 7yr old comes home from school starving like he hasn’t eaten for days (I give him a colossal lunch and a full breakfast too). All that growing and learning I suspect. thanks for some new ideas on an area I’d gone dry on. Looking forward to trying the Pear Cake.
Made your spiced pear cake tonight and it was great! I added alittle clove to the other spices and served warm with whipped cream…..YUMMM!!!!
Awesome ideas!! For those interested in a Ranch dressing recipe that doesn’t require eggs (I don’t like mayo, so I don’t use it at all), here’s one that my Ranch-loving family can’t get enough of (it’s adapted from the No-Mayonnaise Ranch Dressing on Allrecipes.com):
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried chives
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (or use fresh crushed garlic)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar or substitute
1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
Mix all ingredients together and whisk until smooth. You may need to add more buttermilk to your desired consistency, or don’t add quite as much, and make it a dip! Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving (better overnight).
To make Three-Cheese Ranch, add 2/3 cups finely shredded cheddar cheese, and 6 Tablespoons grated Parmesan-Romano blend (or whatever cheeses you like), and another 1/2 – 3/4 cups buttermilk. You’ll also need to add a dash more of each of the spices to flavor the added ingredients.
Thank you! We’ll have to try this.
I make banana-pumpkin-applesauce muffins with oatmeal, flax seed and raisins in them. I’m not a fan of banana bread but this recipe hides the flavor AND uses up those overripe bananas. My boys love them.
Also – regular popcorn cooked in the microwave, which I’m a tad embarassed to admit I only just recently learned how to do.
Thanks for the encouragement to buy organic. I don’t usually but want to more often. And thanks for all the snack inspiration. I’ve been stuck in a bit of a rut lately.