Cheap healthy snack ideas for your busy family! A nice mix of no-prep snacks and make-ahead options as well as tips for saving money on snacks.
The number one thing parents ask my advice on when they subscribe to my blog is for ideas for cheap healthy snacks. Quite understandable if you ask me. In my experience, if there's anything that can jack up your grocery bill quickly, it is convenience snacks, especially fancy "healthy" packaged snacks.
How to save on snacks
First, my advice is to limit snacking to once or maybe twice a day if you want your children to be hungry at meal times. Snacks are a dream to a picky eater. This is a bit harsh, but if there is a constant supply of highly palatable junk food available throughout the day to keep their caloric needs met, why should we be surprised that they don't eat dinner? It's no surprise that they don't have a taste for more well-balanced foods. Don't get me wrong, I still frequently buy a bag of plain chips or tortilla chips to satisfy that salty crunchy craving from time to time, but I find every eats much better if we don't make it a habit to graze on them all day long.
Keep the snacks simple
Elaborate snacks don't happen in this house. I simply don't have the energy or time to put towards fancy or cutesy. Most of the time, snacks around here are a piece of fruit, popcorn, a hard boiled egg, applesauce, jerky, or another one ingredient item that can be easily grabbed by my kids.
Check the sales
Berries in the winter are very pricey, so we don't buy them during that time. Berries in the spring and summer are almost always on sale so we go crazy on them during those seasons. A practice that I find helpful in my own home, is to put on my grocery list a generic listing for "fruit" or "snack veggies" or packaged snacks. Then when I am shopping, I look for items that are on sale that fit those categories.
For packaged items that you frequently purchase, look for when they go on sale and buy several at a time to stock up. Bonus if you can stack them with a coupon. With packaged snacks, if I buy them in bulk, I do find that I have to put the extras away somewhere and ration them so we don't eat them too quickly.
Prep your own snacks
By prepping snacks on your own, you are saving money and filling your family with healthier options. I don't know about you, but I am much more likely to eat well if the hard work is already done for me and I just have to grab and eat. So get used to prepping your own convenience food on the weekend. Go ahead and cut up some carrot sticks, cut that pineapple, make that one homemade snack, and you are good to go for the week armed with your own convenience food.
Choose only a few
This is an important reminder when buying or making snacks. We can choose cheap healthy snacks all day long, but if you have ten of them as an option for the week, your family will eat all ten and your grocery bill will inevitably be very high. Instead choose just a few options for the week to keep cost down. As always, shop your pantry/fridge first. If you have a ton of oats to use, it would be a great week to make oat balls or granola. If eggs are on sale, boil a large batch of hard boiled eggs. I find success with a couple of store bought snacks, a few varieties of fruit and veggies, and we always have popcorn on hand.
50 Cheap Healthy Snacks
- hard boiled eggs (cook in bulk at beginning of the week)
- cheese slices or cubes (cutting up your own from a block is cheaper)
- cottage cheese
- cottage cheese and fruit (peaches, strawberries, tomatoes)
- yogurt (as low sugar as possible) Tip: Big tubs are cheaper than individual packs.
- applesauce (no added sugar)
- fruit strips (look for no added sugar and no artificial food dyes. I like Aldi's Simply Nature.)
- fruit (bananas, apples, strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, oranges, peaches, pears, pineapple, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, mango) Read about how to find cheap fruit and lower your pesticide exposure.
- vegetables (cucumbers, snap peas, carrots, peppers, celery)
- popcorn (bulk air popped or stove top popped)
- dried mango
- dark chocolate
- salami, ham, or turkey
- oatmeal muffins
- oat balls (oats, nut or seed butter, honey, and optional chia seeds rolled into balls)
- bean dip
- toast with nut/seed butter and sliced bananas (I also like to sprinkle chia and hemp seeds.)
- toast with smashed avocado, salt, and red pepper flakes
- chips or veggies and salsa
- chips or veggies and guacamole
- apple chips
- sweet potato chips
- ham and cheese roll ups (slice of ham and slice of cheese rolled up together)
- seeds (pumpkin, sunflower)
- toast and cream cheese
- cherry tomatoes
- celery with cream cheese
- celery and nut/seed butter
- peanut butter with chocolate chips
- peanut butter/seed butter and banana
- cheese and crackers
- roasted chickpeas
- coconut chips
- tortilla pizza
- cottage berry whip or pops
- trail mix (save by making your own and buying in bulk)
- fat bombs
- chia pudding
- homemade granola bars
- crackers with meat or cheese
- salami, cream cheese and pickles
- popsicles (look for all fruit)
I'd love to hear from you! What is your favorite cheap healthy snack?