Snack Foods 101: How to save money without loosing convenience
Goldfish crackers, cookies, veggie straws, chips…all things I have bought in convenient little packages for the sake of CONVENIENCE. Usually snagged on sale, but still not the most Budget Friendly Snacking decision.
Anything that comes in little pre-made packages can be upped in price, compared to their bulk counterparts. Retailers KNOW that people will pay for convenience.
For anyone that has to pack lunches every day of the week for themselves or a kid knows how much easier it is to throw stuff into a lunch kit and go, right?
Thankfully: I DO NOT have to make lunches every day at this current time in my life. NOT YET anyways. The time is coming when my girls will be heading off to school daily.
Occasionally my hubby will need a lunch packed. As he is a farmer and during the busy seasons he needs meals brought to him, or packed up for the day. So I LOVE snack foods. I will be the first to admit how convenient those little packages of food are!
But…I knew this constant buying of snack foods was not in my budget’s best interests. I had to find a way to save a bit here and there where I could, without sacrificing convenience.
BUDGET FRIENDLY SNACKING TIP #1
QUIT BUYING SNACKS in packages that you can buy in BULK.
Here is what you should do instead
1.) Buy little INDIVIDUAL SERVING sized plastic containers. Like these ones here
2.) Purchase your favorite snack items in BULK
3.) Re-package them into the INDIVIDUAL PORTIONED CONTAINERS or individual plastic baggies for odd-shaped items. (I like containers to be more environmentally friendly)
4.) Place the CONTAINERS in a “snack basket” or several baskets in your pantry. Then when packing lunches or giving your toddler (or yourself) a snack, just grab out a container and snack away!
No more stale bags of chips in the pantry, or no more half eaten snack packs of goldfish crackers that can’t be re-sealed.
We used to have the goldfish problem happen a lot. Once you rip open those bags, you can’t re-seal them. This is SO FRUSTRATING in the car. Goldfish EVERYWHERE. IN my little containers, we can pop the lid back on, and shove back into the diaper bag.
ATTENTION: MOM HACK AHEAD: This tip has also been really helpful for MYSELF. I LOVE certain snack foods, and have been packaging them into 1/2C containers as well. This has been great on helping me portion control when I get a snack craving.Compliments of Amy 😉
Below is an example of how I have started to package our snacks. In Ziploc extra-small square containers (1/2 Cup size) which is perfect for my snacks, and my daughters. I can fit 6 in the small sized IKEA Variera containers I use in my pantry.
BUDGET FRIENDLY SNACKING TIP #2
Stock up on non-perishable ‘favourite’ snack items when they go on sale. IN BULK.
Don’t forget that part, LOL.
Try keeping a running tab on your phone, or mental note about what a ‘good sale price’ is for the items you go through often. Then when they become majorly discounted, get extra so you’re stocked up for a while.
Plans are in the works around here, for me to develop a better food price tracker printable for those who like to use paper planners, and a digital version for techy-savy people who like to do everything on their phone and understand Google Sheets 🙂 SO keep an eye out for those, YAY.
I just think it is worth the TIME to keep track of how much your food is costing, so you can better take advantage of sales and work on decreasing your grocery budget. It’s fine for people who can remember the best price, but I cant. My mind is TOO FULL. Paper or digital copies are needed.
Snack food ideas that can be purchased in a Budget Friendly Option
- Goldfish crackers
- Cookies (ideally baking yourself is best, BUT if you have to buy cookies, buy in large boxes, not individual bags)
- Other crackers (Wheat thins, Triscut etc) I know these don’t normally come in ‘convenience’ packages, but this makes it easier to pack ‘Crackers n cheese’ in your kids lunches with pre-packaged small amounts of crackers
- Applesauce (yes, this works here too, instead of pouches or cups buy larger bottles of applesauce, put into containers in the fridge for eating with a spoon. Or package into washable squeeze pouches and put in a bin in the fridge.)
- Some squeeze pouches such as these ones from Amazon would work great. I like these Baby Brezza ones because they have a zipper closure on the side, Allowing for easy filling, and easy washing.
- Candy; if you like sending candy once in a while, consider buying for example a huge bag of M’M’s and tossing like 5 into the small containers at at time.
- Make a batch of rice krispies once a week and wrap them all up individually in saran wrap (or that new beeswax wrap, haven’t tried it yet) Same could go for Banana loafs etc
- Chips: buy a large bag and package into containers or ziploc baggies
- Dry fruits/veggies (or freeze dried which is what I do)
- Beef or other meat jerky
- Trail mix
- Munchie Mix
- Teddy Grahams
Buying these items in larger quantities WILL make a difference. I promise. It may not seem like that big of a deal to pay around $0.33 for a 1.5 OZ package (45 oz total for around $10) of the individual packages of Goldfish crackers.
BUT imagine how much that adds up over the course of an entire school year multiplied by a couple kids? When you can get 60 OZ for around $14 in the bulk version! It DOES ADD UP. You can buy a coffee or two for that!
BUDGET FRIENDLY SNACKING TIP #3
Create some family rules for packing lunches using these re-packaged snacks.
Some examples of rules I would implement if I had school aged kids packing lunches, or if my hubby packed his own lunch would be…
- The bin must be empty before it will be re-stocked (this rule works best in instances when you have MANY different snacks in the same bin, and some are possibly not the favorite snack, but you still want them to be used up)
- You are allowed “x” amount of snacks in your lunch from the snack bin
- If you do not eat the snack in your lunch, it is packed again the next day
- If you unload groceries, put new boxes/bulk items away out of reach until the CURRENT FILLED snack packs are gone. (This is to minimize the chances of the re-packaged snacks going stale) For example, I keep ‘extra’ boxes and bags of things in our basement pantry.
- Containers have to go into the dishwasher once empty so they can re-filled
Possibly designate one day a week when you check on the snack basket to make sure nothing needs re-filled or is getting conveniently not packed (perhaps a non-favorite snack item)
You could implement any one of these ‘rules’ to make this work for your individual family lunch situation.
You may be wondering,
“WHY EVEN BOTHER putting them into containers ahead of time? I’ll just buy in bulk and divvy out some snacks into the lunch or diaper bag when we need it.”
WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO ACTUALLY PRE-FILL THE SNACK CONTAINERS
Because, if you have a bin full of conveniently packaged snacks sitting in the pantry, you are more likely to take them.
If you have several bags of open bulk snacks; Goldfish, veggie straws, maybe some trail mix or peanuts, and are in a hurry to get out the door.
You WILL NOT be inclined to open up those packages! Then rummage through your Tupperware drawer, ask your kid “why are all the lids to these containers missing?’ Then get those snacks packaged up on time.
You would be wishing you had CONVENIENT LITTLE SINGLE SERVING BAGS that you could be grabbing and throwing into the lunch.
So when you run into the grocery store while your kid is at Hockey Practice, your are going to be SO TEMPTED to buy some single serve goldfish bags because they’re on sale anyways. Meanwhile, this mishap is not being Budget Friendly at all.
Point made, I hope.
You could also apply this story to a Mom trying to quickly give her toddler a snack because the baby is crying (me LOL)
Do I want to try to fumble one-handed with a chip-clip holding the big bag of goldfish closed and dump some out with a crabby baby on my hip? Shaking some onto the table quickly. No, not really.
I want to open the pantry door, grab a little perfectly toddler sized 1/2C serving container of the snack and hand it to my daughter. WAY LESS WORK.
(Yes, don’t worry, my toddler does eat TONS of fruits and veggies, although I’m making it seem like her diet is all Goldfish, LOL)
BUDGET FRIENDLY SNACKING TIPS CONCLUSION
1.) Buy little single serve sized containers appropriately sized to the age of children/family members you have
2.) Package BULK favorite snack items into containers and place in an easy to access basket in Pantry.
3.) Establish snacking rules for kids who pack their own lunches
4.) Keep a watchful eye on prices, and buy extra bulk snack items when they go on sale. Store, and don’t open till your current containers of that item are gone 🙂
5.) Be able to keep control of your own snacking habits, by packaging your ‘weakness’ snacks into 1/2 C containers or so, and being mindful of how often you reach for them!
There we have it. I hope this little tip inspired by my recent change over to containers for snack items has been helpful for you.
It has helped me cut back on my snack budget, by buying in bulk when on sale. While no longer buying certain individually packaged snack foods.
ALSO LITTLE NOTE: I fully understand certain schools may have really strict rules when it comes to foods brought, packaging, etc for allergies and such.
Some of my tips may not be beneficial to you then, if you are in that situation. I can’t imagine how hard some of those rules must make it. But fully understand why they are needed!
Keep in touch with me on my email list, to hear about when I get more printables/online food trackers up and running!
Till next time,