Are you looking for inexpensive, healthy and affordable snacks for kids? This list of 12 different types of affordable snack foods should do the trick. It’s been time tested with our five kids and should do well for your family.
How do you feed a bottomless pit? We’re talking about those kids or teens with “hollow legs.” Remember when they were babies and we fed them every two hours? Well, the two-hour feedings start all over again in the pre-teen and teen years. You want to provide nutritious snacking food without going broke, but how?
Here’s a list of things we do to fend off the “munchies.”
Affordable Snacks for Kids #1 – Fruits in Season
We all know that fruit is good for us. It is an excellent source of fiber, enzymes, and vitamins. We love to make large amounts of fruit salad with fruit that is in-season. Sometimes we eat it straight up. Other times we add some yogurt and mini marshmallows. Get our “Disappearing Fresh Fruit Salad” recipe here.
Summer: cherries, melons, peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, raspberries, blackberries, figs, blueberries, corn on the cob (yes you can eat it raw) cherry tomatoes, Chinese pea pods
Fall: pears, apples, and peppers
Winter: all types of citrus, pineapple
Spring: strawberries, asparagus
What about Fruit that is past it’s prime?
If some of our fruit is past its prime, but not moldy, we have two options:
Freeze it for later use in baking or smoothies
Make a smoothie
How we Freeze Fruit
We stock up and freeze lots of fruit – particularly berries.
We lay them out on a cookie sheet and pop ‘em into the freezer. When they’re frozen solid, we put them into a zippered bag and store them in a larger canvas bag full of other frozen fruit.
Affordable Snacks for Kids #2 – Smoothies
Whipping up a smoothie is a great way to use up aging fruit. We mix together crushed ice, fresh fruit, milk or juice and a little jelly. Protein powder can be added for extra nutrition. Other “mix-ins” include pineapple juice (from canned pineapple), older bananas, oranges, peaches, watermelon, berries of all kinds and yogurt. We avoid pears and apples; they tend to make the smoothie grainy. We have pinned tons of ideas on our Drinks, Tea and Smoothie recipes Pinterest Board.
Affordable Snacks for Kids #3 – Veggies & Dip
Try these ideas to make your veggie snacks more filling and interesting by offering:
Celery with peanut butter (and raisins) we called it Ants on a Log
Celery with cream cheese
Ranch dip or salsa can make raw veggies more fun
Red, Green or Yellow peppers
Jicama (a sweet white root vegetable)
Affordable Snacks for Kids #4 – Pickles
We buy large jars of pickles (gallon sized) and pull them out for a crunchy snack. You can buy whole pickles or spears. We’ve found that spears are easier to serve. We let the kids use a pair of large tongs to fish the pickles out of the jar (we don’t want them using their fingers).
Affordable Snacks for Kids #5 – Hard-boiled Eggs
We store hard-boiled eggs in specially marked egg cartons to avoid cracking the wrong eggs. Once they’re cooked, they can be easily stored for a month. These are a great snack, just crack the shell and add a little salt and pepper, or chop them up for egg salad. When eggs are $1.20 per dozen, one hard-boiled egg will cost 10 cents – that’s an affordable snack.
Affordable Snacks for Kids #6 – Nuts – Raw or Roasted
Nuts can be expensive, so look for them on sale (usually before the winter holidays) and store them in a freezer to keep them from going rancid. We’ve found deals on nuts at Walgreens after the holidays. One year they were selling 12-ounce spiced almonds in a variety of flavors for 99 cents! They were packaged in vacuum sealed glass jars and stored well for a couple of years. What a deal! You could also consider planting a nut tree. We stock up on walnuts, pecans, almonds and peanuts. Peanuts are the least expensive nuts available.
Affordable Snacks for Kids #7 – String Cheese
We stock up when they’re on sale. Because they are vacuum-sealed and processed, they store well for months. String cheese is a great source of protein and calcium for growing kids.
Affordable Snacks for Kids #8 – Pumpkin & Sunflower Seeds
Pumpkin seeds made from free pumpkins collected at Halloween time are a wonderful, inexpensive snack. We roast them and then store in a glass jar in our pantry. Get our pumpkin seed recipe here.
Sunflower seeds We’ve grown our own and bought them from the store. Inexpensive and a great treat to get fiber and nutrition into our kids.
Affordable Snacks for Kids #9 – Quick Breads & Muffins
We bake banana, pumpkin, zucchini, cranberry/orange and other quick breads. We bake muffins three-dozen at a time using several muffin tin trays to bake them. Line the muffin tins with paper cupcake liners to make them easy to get out and for the kids to eat.
We put half of the batch into a plastic container or zippered bag to freeze and the other half goes into the refrigerator to eat this week. See all of our bread recipes here.
Affordable Snacks for Kids #10 – Popcorn
We made huge batches from scratch, but you can do it in the microwave to save time. A large bowl of scratch popcorn costs just pennies. We use an air popper — they can usually be found at thrift stores or garage sales. Margarine and salt make it great; add a little sugar or honey and you’ve got kettle corn. You can watch how we make delicious air-popped popcorn.
Affordable Snacks for Kids #11 – Chips & Pretzels
Pretzels Some of the warehouse clubs sell huge bags. These store well because it takes them a long time to go rancid. And they are a low fat option if you need that!
Tortilla Chips and Salsa We purchase 5-pound bags at warehouse clubs and use coupons for the salsa. This isn’t the healthiest snack because they are fried, but once in a while it’s okay.
Affordable Snacks for Kids #12 – Potatoes
We know this one may seem unusual, but for a teen that burns a lot of calories this could work.
Baked Throw a potato into the microwave and top with cheese, bacon bits, broccoli, peas or any number of other toppings and you’ve got a great, nutritious snack.
Sliced and Toasted Cut a potato into thin slices and toss into the toaster oven. Sprinkle a little parmesan cheese and some salt and pepper on top for a scrumptious snack.
As you can see, snacks don’t have to come prepackaged and be potato chips or Cheetos to be terrific, no matter what the kids say. Look for items that can be purchased in bulk, stored and packaged for individual sized servings in zippered bags. Involve your kids and teens in preparing nutritious snack foods to grow their young bodies and fill those hollow legs.