Summer snacking on a budget

June 6, 2013


I have four younger brothers, and I distinctly remember how when they were teenagers, they would stand in front of the fridge with the door open and ask, “What’s there to eat?” All. The. Time. Now my two oldest boys are doing the same thing. But they’re not even teenagers yet! Is anyone with me? The beginning of summer vacation means that most kids are home more, playing harder, and consuming more food. Here are some tips for not blowing your grocery budget from now until Labor Day.


1. Set a reasonable schedule for & limit on snacking.

Many times, kids (like adults!) start rummaging for food out of habit or boredom. I’ve been known to inform my kids, “The kitchen’s closed until _______.” Snack times at our house are around 9:30ish, 3:00ish, and before bed. That loose schedule helps to space out their eating times fairly evenly throughout the day. And when I hear I’m still hungry, I remind them that a snack is not a meal, and the goal is not to feel full.


2. Make your own snack mixes.

Individually packaged snacks are not cost effective, and they’re typically full of unhealthy ingredients. I like to make my own trail mix, for example, by purchasing ingredients in bulk and storing the mix in a Mason jar. I typically include a couple of kinds of nuts, chocolate chips, coconut flakes or other dried fruit, etc. I read labels to find healthier options for add-in’s so that I’m not including ones with partially hydrogenated oils, corn syrup, or chemical preservatives.


trail mix in jar sm


3. Make your own frozen treats.

Have you seen all the fun shapes and sizes of popsicle molds? Do something as simple as filling them with 100% fruit juice or a blend of yogurt & fruit, or spend a little more time and make this super healthy version of fudgsicles using canned coconut milk, cocoa powder, and ripe bananas.



4. Implement portion control.

Have certain containers that are designated for dry snacks (trail mix, crackers, etc.) so that your kids aren’t standing there mindlessly eating from the package by the handful. I like to use silicone muffin cups for this; even my youngest two know to pull those out when they’re going to have nuts or trail mix for a snack. And for things like yogurt, train them to dish a serving into a small bowl rather than a big cereal bowl.


trail mix in cup


You can also portion snacks into small containers like Toni shared in this post and store them in the pantry.


5. Shop the farmer’s market… or your own garden.

Seasonal produce is a nutritious and inexpensive way to add snack options as well as mealtime sides. But be sure to do any necessary prep so that it’s ready to eat, otherwise your family members might just make excuses! (Who am I kidding? I make excuses not to eat fruits & veggies when they’re not prepped!) Wash and cut carrots, stalks of celery, cucumbers, or bell peppers so that they’re ready to grab from the crisper drawer and dip in ranch dressing. Cut up a melon or pineapple in the morning so that it’s available in the fridge to snack on that day.




Do you have any other tips for supplying snacks for your kids while keeping a tight rein on your budget? Please share in the comments!


atfecontributorbuttonVisit Melissa’s blog for more tips on budgeting here…


Melissa is passionate about people living within their means and becoming--and remaining--debt-free. She is the owner of A Time for Everything, which includes both a shop where she sells handmade cash envelope system wallets and accessories, and a blog where she writes about frugal living, creating, and life in general. She's been blogging since 2007 and making pretty wallets since 2011.

10 comments on “Summer snacking on a budget

  1. Jaime says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I’m an educator and am home for the summer with my toddler and this is just so timely!

  2. Sarah says:

    We cut peaches and nectarines up and freeze them for an all natural frozen treat. My kids love them and I don’t have to worry about additives. I also use my Popsicle mold to freeze yogurt for another healthy easy option.

  3. I really think these are helpful ideas. I also think planning non-eating activities will keep my son busy. Also creating his own healthy snack can be an activity in itself or prepping for dinner with his mom or dad. ( I say dad, but I really don’t meant that.)


    • Yes, I think it’s a wonderful activity when kids prepare their own snack. I really believe teaching my kids increasing independence in making their own breakfasts and lunches has really taught them about a balanced diet. It’s just second nature for them now to feel like their lunch isn’t complete if they haven’t had both a fruit and a vegetable serving. 🙂

  4. Great tips! I want to make some homemade frozen treats, what a great idea!!!

  5. Angela says:

    These are great tips, thank you! My girls are always going into the pantry throughout the day to snack and then aren’t hungry at dinner time. It has been driving me crazy! I will definitely use your suggestions and create a few rules around snack time.
    Angela at

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