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Budget Friendly Snacks


My per snack limit has been $0.20 per item.  But its becoming increasingly difficult for me to find snacks under twenty cents.  Here is what we like to snack on:

  • Whole wheat mini bagels (0.25 per bagel)
  • String cheese (0.30 at the grocery store, 0.17 at Costco)
  • Granola bars (0.22-0.48 per granola bar)
  • yogurt (0.25 only if I give them 4 oz at a sitting)
  • Apple (although I paid 0.88 per pound today, 1 apple ended up costing $0.43. And to think I find apples with one bite out of it all over the house!!!  That’s almost 0.50 in the garbage.)
  • Bananas; Today at 0.67 per pound, each banana cost 0.28!
  • Even bread was 0.09 per slice today.   When they have 2 pieces of toast at a sitting, That is cutting it close.  Cereal I try to get for ten cents per oz. It takes dilligent calculating to get that price.

Do you see my frustration!!  I can’t cut them off from snacking altogether (although it has crossed my mind).  I made muffins last night for snacking, but they are already gone.  Maybe I need to double and triple my recipes so there is less kitchen time.

So, I made granola bars, cause that is a perfect snack, I have LOADS of Oats.  It only took me about 5 minutes to mix it up, and twenty minutes to bake.  This time I added sunflower seeds and sesame seeds, and I used almond extract instead of vanilla.  Homemade granola bars today were $0.09 per bar.  No added fats, and the only sweetener was honey.

PS This recipe is very dry.  You really need to use your hands to get it mixed up and pressed into the pan.

Natalie Monson

I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.

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Could you squeeze it all together by kneading the dough in a ziplock bag? I might try it… my mom used to do that with meatloaf.

I’m a big fan of the mini whole wheat bagels for snacks too. I also need to try making some granola bars. I hear they are easy and really good!

Emily, i guess you could squeeze it in the bag, but even putting it in the pan, its really flowery. You almost don’t think its going to work out, but somehow it does.
Blake, my kids love their bagels warmed up just slightly with a little honey. I love them toasted with some spray butter.

I don’t know if your kids like plain yogurt, but I just made some in the crockpot and it comes out to about 2.5 cents per ounce. Add a little honey and vanilla and my kids like it. It seems like even with the honey and vanilla it should be cheaper than $0.25 per 4 ounces….maybe not, I don’t know, but I thought I’d mention it.

I love it!! Thank you for telling me Alex. Where did you get the recipe? I really would like to try it. Do you have a link to a recipe, or can you email it to me?

Hi! I love reading your blog. You have some really great ideas geared toward helping kids eat healthy. I was going to send an email but I can’t find a link to do so so hopefully you will read this. Do you think you could blog about healthy eating and toddlers? Getting my kids to eat vegetables is like pulling teeth. Also have you ever heard of replacing your cooking oils with coconut oil?

Amy, here’s the link to the yogurt in the crockpot recipe that I found. The yogurt is a little bit thinner than what you would buy at the store, but from what I read in the comments section, you can add dry milk powder or gelatin to thicken the yogurt, or leave it fermenting for longer than 8 hours (but the last suggestion will make it more tart). Also, you can freeze the first batch in 1/2 cup portions to save as a started for future batches of yogurt, or you can purchase a new started every couple of batches. I hope you enjoy it!


I know! The snacks, they’re so hard, and they go so fast! My kids are like me – picky and easily bored with the same food – so I’m trying to be creative for them. I’m not nearly as good as you with my snack budget, though. How does edamame come out price wise? My kids like to snack on that (NOT pre-shelled, though!).

Love the ideas! Keep them coming!

Hi LaDonna,

Toddlers sure can be stubborn, can’t they? My 3 year old neice tells me know every time I ask her if she wants some carrots. I will try to remember some things we did when my kids are toddlers and get back to you.
As far as coconut oil… as far as I know it has a high saturated fat content. Although the fat doesn’t come from an animal source, all saturated fat should be kept to a minimum. For baking we prefer canola oil.

Thanks for the link Alex!

I too was going to suggest homemade yogurt. Super easy and even cheaper when you make it with powdered milk. (hooray for rotating food storage) I don’t even buy yogurt at the store anymore. I have a yogurt maker (which basically just keeps the yogurt at the correct temperature) but I also just use a heating pad wrapped around a quart mason jar with the yogurt in it and it works perfectly.
My kids also really like applesauce. I just buy the big jars for about $1.50 and I think there are 11 servings per jar. Cheaper than an apple that they only eat 1/2 of anyway.
I also make and freeze muffins and pancakes. I make mini-muffins a lot because they’re more likely to eat a whole one and I don’t have a lot of waste.
Love the ideas from you and everyone.

Amy – I need to be more like you. My problem is, I lack the energy it requires to keep food and snacking into a small budget… yet I really NEED to do it. I can’t stand doing math, so sometimes I just feel like ignorance is bliss. I envy your energy toward sticking to a food budget and I want you to somehow zap that into my own brain. Could you please figure out how to do that? LOL!

P.S. I’ve never been one to make my own homemade salad dressings, but I tried both of your last dressing recipes and they are delicious! I just have one question though… even with the sugar and miracle whip are they still healthier for you than say just a low-fat version of dressing? I really hope so, so please tell me yes! 🙂

Liz, I know its frustrating and time consuming. That’s what I like about Costco. On their price tags, it breaks down their ‘per item or ounce’ price.. they do it for you. Walmart does too actually. So its easy to scan the granola bars and see what you are paying per bar, or whatever it is. But I also bring a calculator ALWAYS!

Plus, the dressings, definitely healthier because you are not adding HFCS which is in most of your low-fat varities, you can control the amount of salt that is in your dressing, and if you are adding mayonnaise, you can make your own, or find the healthiest version your family likes and avoid the hydrogenated fats. So I would say 99.9% of the time, its healthier to make your own.

The most inexpensive (in the long run), and healthiest, snacking solution is to plant your own fruit trees, berry bushes, grape vines, and vegetable garden. Eat it fresh in the summer (for free!), then bottle what’s left to keep you for the winter. Requires some initial investment, but in the long run, well worth it.

[…] LaDonna asked if I would talk about feeding those stubborn but adorable toddlers, but I really couldn’t remember much of our toddler days.  That’s when I turned to toddler expert, dancer, housewife, primary president, neighbor and friend EMILY!  Here is what she wrote for LaDonna and all those having trouble feeding toddlers. […]

Try cutting the apple with a slicer or by hand. Put a little lemon juice on the so they don’t brown. Left overs into a zip lock in the fridge. Or just cut 1/2 the apple and give them that.