“Mommmm, can I have a snack”? X 25 times a day = REALITY
I’m fairly certain our kids would survive on snacks (and eat us out of house and home) if we let them.
To help our snacking sanity, I talked to my friend and fellow mama, Rachel Cruze about tips & tricks to healthy snacking for kids on a budget!
Healthy Snacking Boundaries
My primary goal is always to help our kids cultivate a healthy relationship with food, and boundaries are key to any healthy relationship. Healthy snacking only exists with healthy boundaries.
These boundaries aren’t meant to be set in stone, but are a great place to start when setting some healthy snacking habits in your house:
- Snacking limit/day? (We do no more than 2x/day, between meals. At least one snack is fruit + protein)
- What’s the cut-off time before dinner? (Our goal is no less than 2 hours before dinner)
- Do kids get a snack if they didn’t finish most of their previous meal? (Nope)
3 Keys to Healthy Snacking on a Budget
- BRING WATER Since thirst can often be mistaken as hunger, answer the snack call by quenching thirst first. I always keep kids travel cups filled with cold water. It’s amazing how often their snack craving subsides when their thirst is quenched.
- Limit foods & drinks that make you want to snack more. Drinks or foods higher in sugar or artificial sweeteners (juices, sodas, etc.) often make cravings more frequent. So, if kid is ALWAYS asking for a snack, may be a sign to cut down on sugars and bump up healthy proteins and fats at meals. anything with lots of sugar will be cheap, but will make them ‘crash’ and want another snack.
- The more filling meals & snacks are, the less frequently kids will ask for one. Isn’t just about ‘’least expensive” snacks or least price/serving. (How many packs of fruit snacks could they eat vs. apple w/ PB?)
How do you know how filling a healthy snack is?
The key to a filling and healthy snack is the ‘Fill Factor’, which is found by adding these things from a nutrition label:
The goal is for the Fill Factor to be at least 10, but the higher the better! The key is for the source of the fiber, fat, and protein to be from healthy, real-food sources. (Also, limiting added sugar is ideal!)
Adding ‘Fill Factor’ to Snacks
- Always pair fruit or veggie with a protein and/or a healthy fat
- Veggies with hummus or guacamole
- Apples with nut butter
- Protein Add-ons
- Edamame pods
- Beef jerky sticks
- cheese sticks (full-fat)
- yogurt (full-fat)
- nut/seeds or nut/seed butters
- Fiber Add-ons:
- nuts/seeds (chia, flax, almonds, cashews, etc.)
- coconut flakes (unsweetened)
- raisins, dried fruit (no-sugar added)
- pomegranate seeds
Healthy Snack Ideas: On-the-Go
Since on-the-go snacks are often individually packaged, they are often more expensive. With the ‘fill factor’ in mind, here are some good on-the-go snack options:
- Bobo’s snack bites (8 FF, $1/serving)
- Beef Jerky sticks
- Lara bars
- Trail mix
- Fruit/Veggie Pouches (ie Once Upon a Farm)
Healthy Snack Ideas: At Home
- Cut apples w/ toppings (peanut butter, coconut flakes, chocolate chips)
- Yogurt w/ toppings (chopped fruit, nuts/seeds, pomegranate seeds, raisins, chocolate chips)
- Ants on a log (celery + peanut butter + raisins)
- Smoothies (milk/milk alternative, fruit, nut/seed butter, nuts/seeds)
- DIY trail mix (nuts, cereal, raisins, chocolate candies)
- Homemade oat bites (11 FF, $0.25/serving)
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oat Bites (Gluten-Free)
- 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp flax meal
- In a large bowl, combine oats, peanut butter, mini chocolate chips, and maple syrup. Stir until well combined.
- Split mixture into 12 equal servings and roll into balls.
- Put ground flaxseeds in a separate small bowl, and roll oat balls in the ground flaxseeds until they are well coated. Store in a container in the refrigerator or freezer
Healthy Snacking on a Budget
- Know what is available in bulk (ie Lara bars at Costco), Thrive Market, Aldi, then buy whatever else at grocery store.
- Store brand vs. popular brands (ie lara bars vs Kroger date bars)
- Buy in larger quantities (this doesn’t necessarily have to be in ‘bulk’, but generally, the larger quantity packages are less expensive per serving.
- Buy reusable containers that allow you to package things yourself.
- Trail Mix
- Kirkland Trail Mix, 4 lb bag $13.99 ($0.22/oz)
- Kirkland Individual Trail Mix packets, ($0.30/oz)
- Yogurt Flippers
- Chobani flippers $1.25-$1.50 each for 4 oz yogurt
- Stonyfield Organic yogurt $3.00/32 oz (add your own toppings)
- Trail Mix
- ALWAYS check the price/serving in the store—sometimes certain flavors are less expensive
- Fill a snack bin at the beginning of the week and when it’s gone, it’s gone. This helps build in some self control.
A few things to simplify healthy snacking…
- Make a list of 5 snacks on-the-go snacks, and 5 at-home snacks. Price compare. Post it in a place you remember and rotate these. With the exception of fresh things, try to buy snack for the ENTIRE MONTH at one time—you’ll save in bulk and it will save brain space.
- If kids get sick of same snack, present it in different ways (muffin tins, sliced differently, etc)
- If you order groceries online, make a ‘list’ of all possible snack options on your grocery store website/app so that you can easily scroll through and see what’s on sale that week.