Snacks for Hungry Kids Without Going Broke

Kid’s  “hoovering” through your snack budget?

Keep a list tacked to the fridge with snack ideas that use items that you usually have on hand. Here are some ideas:


  • Buy what’s on sale using coupons.
  • If there’s a big sale coming up and you have time, then  trade for coupons beforehand stock up like crazy– when stuff is at rock bottom prices!   This allows you to  stockpile  a TON of food in the pantry, freezers and refrigerators.
  • Let  each of your kids take charge to do couponing/shopping within a budget and  cooking/baking in preparation for their friends’ visits. let them do their own shopping, teach them how to look for good, healthy deals and how to find the things on sale. (it will help them develop kitchen skills along with a sense of hospitality. will teach them to appreciate all the hard work and love that goes into stocking the pantry and freezer, but it will be more healthy.)
  • If the kids want a specific snack they have to find either a sale on them, and/or a coupon and then only buy snacks if you have both.
  • Let the kids know that once that stuff is gone, it’s gone-  this is IT for the week.
  • Day-old bread from your bakery  topped with bruschetta (or make croutons)
  • Meat clearance:  stores  mark down meat that is close to its sell-by date. If you find a good deal on chicken, take it home, cook a big batch of it, and freeze it. Use it later to make chicken salad, casseroles, etc.
  • Family Dollar or Big Lots clearance – pick up snacks that are going out of date in a few days for as low as 25 to 50 cents a bag.
  • Dollar Tree  snacks (various cookies/fig & apple bars/pretzel sticks/etc. usually not name-brand stuff but it still tastes pretty good for $1 a package. (Probably full of high fructose corn sweeteners, though.)
  • Call places like General Mills to compliment them or tell them of a problem and this will help you get coupons to double when there is a sale on items such as your flour, sugar and yeast. Getting things for cheap or almost cheap is much better than paying for a membership to Sam’s to get a 10% discount.    (A a non-member can walk in and pay the markup, without having to buy a membership.) Penny wise, pound foolish.


Some good, inexpensive, long-lasting “social” foods might be:


Kids  eat much more when they are socializing over food, so be sure to have lots of fruits and veggies (raw veggies carrot and celery sticks, apples, broccoli, etc cleaned and cut and place it in easy to reach spots in the fridge!

Kids will  eat whatever is quick to grab  -so leave out a tray of healthy snack foods

A big bag of carrots or celery is  an inexpensive snack, looks tempting on a veggie platter and tastes great dipped in ranch dressing when they get home from school and  before they get hungry and  raid the cupboards and fridge.

Celery and peanut butter.

Doing a price match will almost always make veggies and fruits less expensive per pound than convenience foods plus they are loaded with fiber and protein.  Raw foods are nutrient dense and will fill them up faster

  • eggs, cheese, meat, veggies, fruit, nuts (all found on special)  keep him out of the fridge as much. Carbie snacks are left for the weekends.
  • Avoid high calorie dips. Look up some low-cal dip recipes online and make that instead. Veggies and hummus are a good idea.


  • Produce stands during the last hour of the farmers market most of the farmers do not want to pack the produce back to their farms so you might get a great deal on produce
  • Braums and Food Pyramid have produce markdowns


  • At home immediately cut up and freeze  celery, carrots, onions broccoli and anything you might want in stir-fry, soups or chili into bags. Also, immediately cut up your salad and your veggie tray for the kids.


Free Berries around Tulsa!

Thunderbird Berry Farm in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma  offers, ‘pick two buckets of berries for the farm and you’ll get a third bucket completely free.’ Call the farm  ahead of time to find out what berries are ripe and when the farm is open for picking.

There may be local organization that gives away free excess fruit or vegetables to whomever wants it. (Guts church did on Tuesday. Be sure to verify.)

Where to find pick your own vegetables and fruits:

  • fruit (blueberries, watermelon, grapes, all tossed in a large bowl/platter), fresh fruit slices and homemade whip cream
  • yogurt, fruit (whatever is in season and inexpensive). Fresh fruit smoothies  hand it to them before they start asking for food…  they are a lot less like to go for the snack food if we put the filling healthy food in their hands when they aren’t asking for it.
  • a  fruit basket on the kitchen counter or in the fridge that  kids can get at anytime to  encourage them to eat  fruit and veggies, they will eat it, but they probably won’t eat as much as if you put out junk food.
  • eat all you want, it’s going to go bad anyway if they don’t.
  • Buy a large fruit such as a watermelon in the summertime to split up. One   goes a long way.
  • Fruit in season in bulk. buy whatever fruit is the cheapest  consider baking with things you can add fruit too-instead of cherry pie,  make it in a long baking pan and cut it into bigs.
  • oranges and apples cut up -its quick and easy to snack on.
  • Sliced fruit w/ fruit dip or peanut butter  Fruit was always healthy but not a “filler”.  buy small peaches and apples, that way they’re aren’t wasted if they want one or cut up the apple on a platter with p.b. and they share.
  • grow your own vegetables or  fruit trees.  (Barter with a friend who does have.) Then, no need to monitor kids (or their pals) consumption, and the gardening will keep them and their friends busy for an afternoon. One apple tree makes a LOT of snacks every year.
  • Whatever fruit (or  vegetable) is on sale … pears or apples or banana. Next week would be a new fruit.
  • Smoothies -another favorite. Just add frozen fruit to yogurt some flax seeds, little honey and they will drink it all up!
  • Apple slices & Nutella
  • Peanut Butter or Homemade Chocolate dip
  • fruit snacks  Fruit- bananas, apples slices,   in the fruit basket (small gala apples, bananas, grapes) A bunch of bananas are usually less than a dollar. apples-  Cheese and apples  grocery stores have discounted produce, especially bananas.  freezing  bananas, so brown spots are no problem, especially if you are baking with it (such as banana bread, pancakes, etc.)
  • whole, healthy uncooked foods (apples, grapes, bananas, carrot sticks, celery) will fill them up better than junk, and they’ll likely only eat until they’re satisfied instead of eating until they’re stuffed. They still eat snacks but they certainly do not over-do it like they did when the snacks were “cute”.
  • small sandwiches, cheese and crackers



    -from scratch cooking takes time to prepare , but it is most always healthier and cheaper! make ahead and freeze-


Cakes and Cupcakes-

  • healthier cakes using things like applesauce
  • make ahead and freeze-cake, iced can be frozen.
  • regular cupcakes
  • 9″ square snack cakes when we’d come home from school—applesauce, spice, chocolate. Comforting, filling, and cheap!
  • make ahead and freeze-  breakfast muffin sandwiches, etc.
  • brownies – brownie cupcakes-  homemade,  cheap, make a lot and taste great (ice with chocolate butter frosting: in a mixing bowl use your mixer to beat 1/4 c. butter, softened, and 3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder until smooth. Beat in 1 cup powdered sugar. Add additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, if you want it to be more spreadable.  You can sprinkle on  chopped candy bars or M&Ms.

Buy tortillas on sale using coupons that double to make:

  • HUGE crock pot of bean burrito type mixture.  Kids can scoop it onto tortillas throughout the week. Use dry beans, soak them in water overnight, rinse them the next morning, and cook them in a new batch of water all day with taco seasoning or Williams chili powder and other spices. At the end of the cooking time, we sometimes add chicken, refried beans, or fresh cilantro. Its a very filling and healthy snack for very little cost.
  • Chicken burritos, breakfast burritos- make ahead and freeze
  • homemade frozen burritos  are a favorite. freezer burritos zap in the microwave and it fills them up. freezer is full of bean burritos, too.
  • ground chuck is on sale – crumble as the meat cooks, quick freeze it separated on a cookie sheet for a few hours then put into a ziplock bag for burritoes .  The beans / rice / meat combination is pretty cheap and a good filler.)
  • Mexican Burritos –   cheap because  tortillas can be bought with double coupons.  Take out of the freezer, pop in the microwave
  • beans and rice   (yes, they are starches and will convert to sugar so go easy on them)
  • quick cheese and bean quesadillas. Cheese Quesadillas keep tortillas, shredded cheese in 1-cup portions, and cooked black beans in 1-cup portions in the freezer for (microwave) w/ salsa  -quesadilla maker-
  • use  tortillas to do individual pizzas



  • When ground chuck is on sale  grill extra burgers, freeze them separated on cookie sheet for a few hours then put them all in a ziploc freezer bag. Then you can take out as many as you need and microwave them.


CHICKEN When chicken in on sale  grill or cook extra,   flash freeze (separate on cookie sheet in freezer for a few hours) then put them all in a ziploc freezer bag. When needed take out as many as needed and let thaw. (microwaving to re-heat meat makes it taste nasty.)


  • Nachos, Chips and Salsa– makes a lot and taste great
  • homemade hot sauce
  • Nachos– toppings- smoky Spanish paprika in cooked chorizo sausae and ½ cup of roasted red sweet peppers cut into strips. (Nachos cook time: 5-7 minutes in a 425´oven produces cheese melted just right onto chips.)
  • cook extra taco meat and freeze individual servings for salads, burritos, tacos, taco salad and nachos! ( 1/3 cup taco meat in individual sandwich bags, then put all the individual bags in a gallon freezer bag. )  take out the number of servings you need
  • Tortillas as a Dessert- Warmed and drizzled with honey, warmed peanut butter, or brush with oil, and bake till crispy. Top with chocolate chips and return to oven just long enough to melt. Spread the chocolate around, and sprinkle with powdered sugar.)
  • cheese quesadillas from tortillas. and the tortillas to make pizza


    homemade fries and sweet potato fries…..

homemade chips – cut flour or corn tortillas into wedges and place  in the oven 350 oven 10-12 minutes or until golden.)

  • homemade Jalapeno Poppers. At $1 a lb for Jalapenos you can feed a small army! I use cream cheese, sour cream & cheddar cheese stuffing and bake at 425 until the pepper is cooked thoroughly! Also great to add to burgers! Google how to make jalapeno poppers for a recipe that you like
  • Cream Puffs (simply butter, flour and eggs). Jello Pie filling for the inside.  (Google to find a recipe that you like)
  • noodles: flour and eggs this recipe (Google to find a recipe that you like)  just cook a little celery, onion and carrot, a chicken breast…..add the noodles and a can of Campbells chicken soup, season with garlic and onion powders— makes a big pot. YUM!
  • Dumplings can be made using a can of biscuit mix you get on sale with a coupon.
  • Homemade Chex Mix
  • Granola Bars.
  • Breakfast Puffs
  • ice-cream sandwiches with graham crackers and cookies, too. ice cream sandwiches- healthier than store bought and will actually FILL their bellies!!!
      • rice krispie treats
      • jello
      • peanut butter & jelly
      • pasta or rice dishes.
      • teriyaki salmon with noodles. –  half a salmon with skin  side down in baking pan. Put sweet, thick soy sauce all over it and bake at 350 until done. Cook regular spaghetti noodles and add teriyaki sauce and blanched Asparagus, Aldi has frozen spears for $1.99 all the time. It’s  delicious, almost gourmet and budget friendly, but the soy sauce is not healthy.. Wal Mart has the half salmon in the freezer section for around $7 and you can make it feed 6 people. And a pound of pasta is free if you coupon shop.
      • pumpkin chocolate chip muffins
  • ramen noodles-BAD!! seasoning packet has too much sodium and the noodles have TONS of hydrogenated oils (trans fats!) Partially hydrogenated oils are about the worst thing you can put in your body.There are two servings in one package (who eats half a pack?!).   ( in Korea & we  add protein (eggs) & tons of veggies with the noodles. We eat rice and noodles that are closer to the natural source than Ramen, which is why they are healthier.    Toss noodles with Mrs. Dash butter sprinkles or with some canned roasted tomatoes. )


Baked Ranch Crackers

Stock up on oyster crackers then use this recipe to make a cheap and inexpensive snack for the whole family that will satisfy any salty/savory craving!  This addicting snack is ready in about 20 minutes and it is easy to travel with in the car!

1 (1 ounce) package Ranch-style dressing mix
1/4 cup (or more to your liking) Canola oil
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon of dried dill (optional)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
5 cups oyster crackers

Mix the first 4 ingredients together, then add the oyster crackers. Stir  and place on a baking sheet.
Bake at 250 F for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes and watching for over-browning.

Pizza crackers (lay crackers on plate, top w/ pasta sauce and cheese then microwave)

    • keep a big plastic ice cream buckets and when there’s only a handful of some snack type things (crackers, nuts, cereal, chocolate chips, popcorn, even chips, etc) put it in the bucket and make your own snack mix. It’s a good way to make sure nothing is wasted and its fun to have different combos.


homemade popcorn: Air-popped popcorn or homemade popcorn  on the stove

In a  big pot or pan with lid,   add oil add a little oil  to cover the bottom and add some butter, which keeps you from having to  add butter later and it will be dispersed?  evenly) (some say Add a little salt and spray butter. here.) Add the kernels and turn it on high until the first one pops. Put on the lid, turn down to  medium high and shake  the pot back and forth over the stove as it pops. This keeps any popped corn from burning. When it pretty much  stops popping, remove it from heat. Top with salt, or what ever you want.

add whatever other seasonings you want there are  numerous recipes on the web for flavored seasonings that are easy to make. – make it sweet or savory. sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese and/or garlic salt  or cinnamon, or cayenne    season it with with  Butter Spray, Chili Powder,

Almost every one of my Great Value kernels is popped and nothing is burned every time.   mine pops just as well without the oil, too

caramel corn –Cracker Jack type popcorn is super cheap. A little butter, brown sugar, Karo and popcorn. It keeps really well. Make a huge batch and keep it in a tub in your pantry.

    • Popcorn popular, cheap, very filling and so easy to make  is a great snack for “socializing” type foods.  Air popper saves  the mess of stovetop variety). Some make   large amounts at a time and store it in empty 5 qt ice cream buckets.
    • some say that Wal Mart popcorn, “great value” brand of kernels (less than $1.50)  pops well for them, some swear by Dollar Generals great flavor and  large and fluffy with minimal sharp kernels while  others only like brand names.
    • Microwave method:  1/4-1/2c. popping corn in a brown paper bag with 1-2 T oil. Add salt, garlic, and whatever other seasonings   then I seal the bag ( tape) and microwave it on the popcorn setting. It works great and it’s fast and easy to clean up.
    • Popcorn, an inexpensive and reasonably healthy snack made ahead can be stored in re-purposed ice cream buckets.

yummy recipes:

Cajun Popcorn
½ t salt
½ t ground cumin
½ t garlic powder
½ t dried basil
½ t dried thyme
½ t paprika
¼ t pepper
1/8 t cayenne pepper
2 T olive oil
3 quarts popped popcorn (about ½ cup kernels)
Combine spices; set aside. In a small saucepan, heat oil over medium heat for 1 minute; add seasonings. Cook and stir over low for 1 minutes. Place the popcorn in a large bowl; add seasoning mixture and toss to coat. Serve immediately. From Taste of Home magazine
Note: If you mix up the spices ahead of time in a large quantity half the work is done for you.

Microwave Caramel Popcorn
Cook Time: 10 Minutes Ready In: 15 Minutes
Yields: 16 servings
4 quarts popped popcorn (about ½ cup kernels)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup margarine
1/4 cup light corn syrup 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1. Place the popped popcorn into a large brown paper bag. Set aside.
2. In a 2 quart casserole dish, or other heat-proof glass dish, combine the brown sugar, margarine, corn syrup, salt and vanilla. Heat for 3 minutes in the microwave, then take out and stir until well blended. Return to the microwave, and cook for 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from microwave, and stir in the baking soda.
3. Pour syrup over the popcorn in the bag. Roll down the top once or twice to close the bag, and shake to coat the corn. Place bag into the microwave, and cook for 1 minute and 10 seconds. Remove, shake, flip the bag over, and return it to the microwave. Cook for another 1 minute and 10 seconds. Dump the popcorn out onto waxed paper, and let cool until coating is set. Store in an airtight container. From

Kettle Corn
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
Salt as desired
Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Immediately add 3 popcorn kernels. Once the 3 kernels pop, remove them and stir in the sugar and popcorn. Cover, and shake the pot constantly to keep the sugar from burning. Once the popping has slowed to once every 2 to 3 seconds, remove the pot from the heat and continue to shake for a few minutes until the popping has stopped. Pour into a large bowl, and allow to cool, stirring occasionally to break up large clumps. Yield 10 cups/5 servings
Amount Per Serving Calories: 209 | Total Fat: 11.9g | Cholesterol: 0mg From:

  • pasta for snacks. All cheap and filling and the kids love them.


COOKIES- a full cookie jar

  • bake your own cookies  to have less expensive goodies on hand. Make up a big batch and freeze some for later.

Homemade cookies  can be frozen.

  • Pre make a huge batch of whatever cookies you want (peanut butter, oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip cookies) etc.  Place on a cookie sheet very close together (to maximize space, you are not cooking them right now) in the size you would do for cookies. Then freeze them. Pop them off and store them in the freezer, ready to go.   Homemade, pre-made cookies can be kept in a leftover ice cream bucket. When someone wants cookies for snacks,   grab some  and they are cooked in minutes. If the kids are older have they can pre-make everything. Individual size packets with l 3 to 6 frozen cookie balls, or a huge one that contains them all can be put into Ziploc bags.
  • freezer cookies.-usually make three kinds (doubling the batches). roll in balls and flash freeze by putting dough on wax paper on cookie sheet for 15 minutes in freezer. You can put lots on the sheet as long as they don’t touch. This keeps the cookies from sticking together.) Then mark the bags with name and cooking directions, push the extra air out of the bag, and freeze.   it usually takes 1 more minute of baking time for a cookie frozen then the original recipe calls for. I only use whole wheat flour, and if I am using something like fiber one cereal, I crush it with a rolling pin and replace one cup of the flour with one cup of very finely crushed cereal. If it’s rice krispies, or corn flakes, etc.  add an extra cup to the recipe, as is. More healthy ideas to add: raisins or dried fruit, oatmeal, sunflower seeds, etc., they seem to love it all thrown into a hearty cookie. ** you have ready-to-go cookies for last minute functions, or if you just want to make a few, you can do that too!**
  • chocolate chip cookies.-  KIDS make the cookies when they are over. They might eat the entire batch, but it keeps them busy and they’ll probably stick to one snack (and a gallon of milk…).

No bake peanut butter oatmeal cookies are great to fill the teenagers up!

1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1/2 cup butter
3 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Microwave butter, sugar and milk for 2 minutes or until melted completely.
2.Add cocoa, oats, vanilla and peanut butter.
3. Stir until oats evenly distributed.
5. Drop by teaspoon onto waxed paper. Cool. Makes 4 to 5 dozen.


POTATOES! are another staple

  • baked potatoes and brown 1-2 pounds of turkey meat…and then add toppings. Filling and cheap.
  • a casserole that was long on pasta and potatoes and shorter on meat is still tasty and healthy.
  • Mashed potatoes last longer than fries, etc. especially when it’s portioned out for them.
  • potato skins, twice baked potatoes and regular baked potatoes can be made ahead and frozen for the kids.
  • steamed potato bar (with the trimmings)
  • baked potatoes in the microwave are cheap.  Having a washed bag of potatoes at the ready is always helpful too. The boys would “bake” these in the microwave, adding left overs as toppings. These foods were heavy and filling and healthier than chips or crackers.
  • Dinner served with baked potatoes. (keep  meat as the “side attraction” and fill up the kids on the rice / bread / potatoes.)
  • cut potatoes in super thin slices, if you have a mandolin that can slice super thin, season them as you’d like and pop them in the microwave (depending on how many you have it takes around 2 min). They come out like kettle chips. Totally great. Brush on a little olive oil  (before you cook) if your teens need a little more flavor.



  • Kool Aid packets are cheap until you realize that sugar or artificial sweeteners are not good for you and Stevia is expensive.    Serve  pitchers of  ice water, using a pretty pitcher and pretty glasses.
  • free sobe drinks  lately  have been great for zoo and park trips.
  • soda – the acid in it is  bad for teeth and will cost you much in dental bills  teeth acid erosion. (Plus the high fructose corn sweeteners in soda pack on pounds, while diet pop has aspartame which is an excitoxin and is said to be (along with MSG) one of the reasons we have so many fibramyalgia sufferers.


PORTIONS- Serve all snacks in small containers. Small dessert dishes that are about the size of a 1 cup measurer hold a lot of peanuts or even some dip for carrot sticks, apple slices or some chocolate syrup for banana slices.

  • load up on fiber one and nature valley bars when you can get them real cheap
  • set limits-let  kids pick out two snacks each for the week.
  • Food that is filling  -Eggs- hard boiled  eggs Deviled Eggs
  • popsicles (the kind  that you can get 100 for around $4) or make your own
  • crackers with peanut butter or cheez whiz
  • leftover roast will make sandwiches and wraps– eggs (deviled, boiled and fried for sandwiches) chicken (any type) for wraps, its a great way to use leftovers
  • pancakes or waffles with syrup or spread with peanut butter…and the toaster to warm them up.
  • Movie night- watching movies, ask kids friends to bring their favorite snack to share! Not everyone will but some do and it means everyone gets to try different things
  • pb crackers or cookies, but crackers, and things aren’t as filling as apples, deviled eggs (done healthy), or veggies and dip.
  • offer a favorite convenience snack with some healthy ones
  • oatmeal is a great tummy-filler and you can purchase it in bulk very inexpensively! Get creative with add-ins, like maple syrup, raisins, jam, or use sugar free vanilla coffee creamer.
  • chicken pot pies
  • Crackers & Cheese
  • Oatmeal bars
  • Crunchy Granola with Yogurt
  • Dinners: a big batch of pasta
      for your kids, –Feed them protein for breakfast.

local community center that has free bread giveaways every Wednesday and Friday. The local supermarket stores have their “fresh but ready to expire so can’t sell” bread delivered to this center. Anyone can go in and get some. We usually stop by a couple times a month, bring it home and freeze it. Then, when our kids get hungry or have friends over, they can pull out some bread, it thaws pretty quick, and toast it or make sandwiches. Free is always good!

feeding between 15-30 every week for a Sunday lunch can be done with  a roast, rice (mix white and wild so that it goes farther), a lot of green beans, and bread. It seems to always  work,  no matter how many show up –there always seems to be enough (think loaves and fishes).

Filling foods –

We also use all leftovers

  • Sliced apples and cheddar cheese
  • huge bags of carrots and celery, and cut them up on the weekend so they are ready to put out. prep a veggie tray on Saturday mornings and it’s usually eaten before the weekend is over by the kids running in and out.
  • bananas, tomatoes, cheese,


we try to keep lots of protein around the house-it keeps them  full for longer periods of time.

    • spend one day a week baking/cooking lot’s of treats, freezing usually half to ration.
      • homemade baked goods, (can be frozen as well, or just freeze the dough and let them bake the treats fresh).
      • homemade cinnamon bread. Quick cinnamon rolls
      • sour dough bread homemade,  cheap, make a lot and tastes great
      • Cinnamon biscuits/monkey bread (use cheapest, generic brand of refrigerator biscuits — dip in melted butter and cinnamon sugar, stack in baking dish and bake)
      • time it so you are  pulling a loaf of fresh bread or muffins from the oven when they arrive home.
      • bread dough. stock up item
      • Breadmaker: easily bake delicious loaves of bread, perfect for sandwiches. These can be frozen also. Try looking for flour, sugar, and yeast in bulk
      • regular bakings of fresh homemade bread would be frugal
      • homemade bread with jam and butter homemade bread. Whip up a batch of the No-Knead Bread (recipe in a Mark Bittman article in the New York Times) and keep that around.  Mark Bittman’s recipes are so easy and delicious!

cook a pot of beans almost every week as filler food to serve with lots of  meals.

(the more sugar and carbs he eats the more he is looking for more of the same.)

Teach your teens to cook!started with homemade Orange Julius in the blender and moved onto to other smoothies. When they are hungry, they can make their own.  moved on to easy homemade brownies or bars they can  make   when  friends are coming over. Homemade is always cheaper and healthier besides. And teach them : “It’s not done until it’s cleaned up.”



for meals that are consistenly inexpensive for large groups – pastas or homemade pizza, you don’t need as much meat per person to feed a large group. (But the pasta is a starch and will convert to sugar and the red sauce is loaded with sugar so you WILL have an insulin spike.)

use a par baked pizza crust recipe  found online. The crusts are in the freezer and they can add fresh toppings and cook for a few minutes for a homemade pizza.

  • make up homemade pizza crusts and keep in the freezer. (Hamburger buns are also good to use for mini pizzas.)
  • homemade pizza pockets, or even the kids can do it when they are over at the house…….A sandwich maker, a can of biscuit dough and toppings of your choice……
  • baked chicken breast, baked in garlic and onion powder then shredded and put on dough (made from canned biscuits flattened into a pizza pan to make dough), with spinach, ranch dressing and cheese.
  • english muffins, pizza sauce (or Ragu), and shredded cheese. These make easy, do-it-yourself pizzas. Just toast the bread, then add sauce & cheese & microwave for about 30 sec. to melt the cheese. It’s healthy and satisfying and relatively cheap.
  • “cheesy breadsticks.” -make batches of pizza dough in the breadmaker and keep them in the freezer to have on hand.  add some block Mozzarella (cut in slices) and parmesan cheese (always bought on sale) with garlic powder/salt and occasionally with Italian seasoning to make a batch of two. Heat up some homemade or bottled marinara sauce to dip them in. To make them healthier, use whole wheat flour or add flax seeds instead of plain white flour. Organic ingredients (on sale) would really up the nutrition.
  • make pizza rolls   pizza or calzones from scratch homemade pizza since flour and pasta sauce and cheese are cheap.Take hamburger buns (frequently on sale for 99 cents or less), top with homemade or store-bought pizza sauce, sprinkle with cheese and bake. Makes surprisingly yummy and easy pizzas. Kids and adults love them and they are the perfect snack size. Easy on the budget too! parbake homemade pizza crust, freeze portions of inexpensive pasta sauce, and freeze shredded cheese on cookie sheets and then, when the cheese is frozen, storing it in ziplocs. The only thing that needs to be microwaved before baking is the sauce to spreading consistency. stocking the freezer with the components of homemade pizza and letting the kids cook it.
  • You can also buy frozen bread dough.


    • Homemade bread, brownies, cookies
    • making convenience foods saves  a ton. do it with  once a month cooking.
    • Homemade frozen yogurt and frozen grapes keep them cool on hot days.

Homemade burgers using ground turkey. Fire up the BBQ grill and throw on burgers. Burgers and chips and you have all the filling protein they need. It’s cheaper then buying a whole bunch of different snacks every week.

Per person cost:
1/4 lb hamburger $0.42 (at $1.69/lb)
roll $0.12 (at $0.99 a pack of 8)
Chips $0.12 ($0.99 per bag)
Condiments all free with coupons deals

So for $0.66 per kid, they are full and happy.

homemade stuff, they can even put stuff together themselves if you have it around. We use homemade bread,  to do individual pizzas sometimes, and everyone here loves “quick breads”.

    • a huge dish of homemade mac and cheese. Cheese and macaroni goes on sale so often that this is a great kid filler and you don’t have to have meat with it.
    • h omemade biscuits bulk up any meal  are   cheap to make and kids really love  hot biscuits with jam or honey. Biscuits can  fill in a meal of leftovers. I used a recipe that used canola oil for the fat so they were healthier.
    • cheese grits are filling and cheap too go with anything and kids love them. As far as drop in company or unexpected extra kids for meals-my Mom taught me that you always just set an extra place(s) and there will be enough food and it is always true. God honors a generous heart and table.Whole grains, whole foods, and high fiber are the way to go.
    • I have a big bowl of apples on the counter at all times. I bake my own rolls and breads with the help of my bread machine, and I always use whole wheat flour and throw in extra oats.
    • making waffles- make dozens of waffles, and the kids can take them from the freezer and heat them in the toaster. They eat them with peanut butter and honey.
    • Meatballs seem to go further than meat sauce, so I make meatballs by the hundreds and freeze them. Stretch things even further with lots of garlic bread or rolls and some vegetables on the side.
    • massive batch cooking is necessary. We do it on the weekend, and the boys  help (and so do their friends). I’ve never had any of them complain about having to help out in the kitchen, and it’s actually a great time to listen to what’s on everyone’s mind. If you have lots of healthy, filling foods on hand, I think it’s less of a temptation to buy junk food.
      • large pot of homemade soup (you can keep this frozen and thaw quickly if needed)
      • chili or potato soup (more water can almost always be added without anyone noticing)    “stone soup” meals, where everyone contributes. That also teaches the teens that they are responsible for planning ahead, and giving for the common good.

fix a big pot of beans, stew, soup or similar in  crockpot. keep in on low all day, and anytime they come in , you have something on hand that you didn’t have to cook on a moments notice. Plus, those things are usually quite inexpensive to prepare!

Homemade trail mix made with shelled sunflower seeds, raisins, chocolate chips and mini pretzels is very inexpensive to make in bulk and provides some protein and fiber to fill them up.

homemade snacks-, pop tarts and other snacks. You can store them in the freezer and just heat and they eat.

    • Make snacks, don’t buy snacks. Home made is the way to go- we can feed them for less by making our own. Bake in super-de-dooper amounts on the weekend and freeze.
    • Invest in a couple big pans. and make brownies and cookie bars.
    • Whenever you cook a healthy low cost meal, cook it twice and freeze the second batch-lasagna, mac and cheese, Italian casseroles, all can be heated easily and are not that messy.
    • making batch of cookie dough, French Toast and mac and cheese- just triple it and freeze it. If you are making one batch of bread dough, you might as well make three!)
    • pre-make four loaves of PBJ sandwiches and put them back in the freezer. At any given time, I have a few casseroles in there that I can pull out, bake, and add a salad for a fresh meal for guests.
    • Baked chicken lasts longer than fried because you have to use a fork. (Bake it with garlic and onion powder. For sandwiches add red onion and Hellmans mayo)
    • A lasagna that you let them cut has 6 servings. A lasagna that you cut has 10. And they feel the need to get seconds no matter how big the first serving is anyway.
    • do a lot of simple cooking rather than just convenience foods.
    • kids can’t walk in the door and just eat anything, they have to fix it first.
    • whip up oatmeal cookies
    • brownies, homemade chex mix, etc.
    • cook for 2-4 more than your family size then freeze the leftovers in single portions for the kids (footballer’s love lasagna before practice)… and you never know who is going to stop by
    • snacks from scratch make home made items totally from scratch.
    • Macaroni and cheese
    • spaghetti casserolepoptarts
    • home made soup..
    • chili lots of beans and little meat. add lots of tomato and spice kids like it hot today. bring in some mac noodles to go with it or some fritos.
    • cheap pork loin or cheap cut of beef in the crock pot with lots of onion. Shred it and throw bbq sauce on it . It will go a long way. cut up fresh veggies to go with it. and buy dry ranch dsg mix and mix with fat free sour cream for dip.
    • pasta. With garlic bread or whack a can biscuits. And jarred sauce bought CHEAP because they do NOT have the gourmet taste for my homemade sauce yet .
    • Hotdogs
    • Hamburgers
    • Tacos
    • Salads topped with chicken.

stock up on freezer mini-meals …

    • Things that you can  zap in the microwave and it fills them up.breakfast items (sandwiches, muffins)
    • homemade pigs in a blanket in the freezer.


    • trail mix bar using cereal-. Set out nuts, dried fruit, coconut flakes, chocolate chips, granola, seeds, cereal etc.. and let them make their own mix. Oatmeal packets with dried fruit and lots of cereal. I only buy boxed cereal when I can get it for less than $1.00 per box on sale and using a coupon. bowl of cereal anytime they wanted. I made sure to stock up on breakfast cereal and never paid more than $1.00 a box using coupons etc. A box w ould feed a boy or two and their friends after school or for evening snack.Cereal is fortified, they got milk… It was the most inexpensive snack and easy for them to make themselves, and after their heaping bowl, they were full…nutritionist tell us that this is what she does with her teenagers that they are getting whole grains in the cereal, calcium and relatively low calories/sugar (depending on your cereal.) Since I get most of the cereal cheap or free, it is a very economical snack.  cereal- Some cereal is  healthier than chips or other typical snack foods & when paired with milk helps fill you up too!
    • bar type “cookie” usually with oats and peanut butter   are a treat but also filling.    cereal bars (like Rice Krispie treats) make a double batch, and always try to freeze some of what you  make. You can add cereal you need to get rid of into your cookies, If you purchase your cereal with coupons like I do for go directly to the website for recipe ideas. When I had an abundance of Cheerios I just pulled up some of their recipes and took a big batch of bars
    • make sure to have things out on the counter waiting for them .
    • a pot of hot soup and some homemade bread.
    • homemade banana bread or homemade muffins.
    • huge bag of tortilla chips from Costco (about $4) and Costco’s large bottle of Kirkland Salsa (about $6). This keeps the kids in snacks for quite a few days and it’s pretty healthy.
    • large jars of pretzels from Tractor Supply.  healthy and fairly frugal.
    • we  encouraged my son and his best friend   to experiment with cooking whatever it was they wanted to try
    • adult friends are HAPPIER with more what I consider junky food…high sugar etc….I call them sugar hounds, so I save my more expensive food for our own family…and feed them what makes them happy!!
    • always had banana or pumpkin bread on hand as well using a breadmaker, (add some chocolate chips).
    • Thank goodness for farmers markets lately so I am not paying huge prices for veggies lately.
    • When fresh produce is not available make larger dinners and keep extras on hand for a snack-
    • peanuts (from Sam’s – if no food allergies),
    • Grilled cheese sandwiches which one can make for the whole group.
    • peanut butter and graham crackers.or Cheese & crackers (cheese slices from either a large block of cheddar or precut slices)
    • mini sweet peppers sliced and served with ranch (if desired)
    • energy and protein bars
    • frozen pizza    – buy when they are on sale. Do you have a food factory in your town? Tony’s Pizza factory in Salina, KS,–if you know someone who works there, you can get a case of 12 for $2.  See what you can make of it. If you’re concerned about healthy, just get the Cheese pizza variety and assemble your own toppings (i.e. mushrooms, tomatoes, black olives).
    • sandwiches with lunchmeat.
    • Omelets.
    • Dinner is usually centered around veggies, at least two kinds, a starch and meat.

keep the variety down to keep the waste down. Less variety : It’s a proven fact that people in general eat less when there aren’t 15 options.

visiting teens can be asked to bring a snack with them to share. That way the burden isn’t solely on your grocery budget.

give  kids gift cards for food places and movie theatres as presents and request that of the relatives too. This works well when they are out with friends and want to catch a bite.

grocery budget went up when the kids reached the teen years, but  the trade off is worth it if you love for their friends to come over.



  • Homemade granola packs a lot of bang for the buck (especially if you have access to a bulk foods store). You can double (or triple) the recipe to last even a big family at least a week. Make sure you use plenty of wheat germ and sunflower seeds/nuts for the’ll stick to the ribs all day and cut down on the need for snacks!
  • couple different granola type bars linked here that are super dense and relatively cheap to make. The Apple Cinnamon Granola Bars and the Grown Up Granola Bars will make an 11×15 Jelly Roll type pan worth of hearty snacks for the price of a couple boxes of the commercial snacks.
  • homemade granola bars are  frequently requested. They never know the healthy ingredients I add to granola.


  • Rice made in the rice cooker.   great Japanese sauce from Costco that they LOVE rice cooker and taught son to use it. He has gotten creative with whatever is available to add to it.



  • make up ahead of time and froze in little baggies. I specify that each person can have one baggie per day/week, etc.  I make small (1/2 tsp) cookies for me and put them in seperate baggies, so when others are snacking I can grab something too that isn’t too bad and satisfies by sweet tooth!
  • Baggies are great so kids aren’t grabbing handfuls of cookies out of a big container. I put a couple of cookies in each baggie.
  • don’t let  kids snack from a big bowl or the bag.   pre-portioned sizes.
  • but it’s a lot of time and money if you serve up 3 dozen cookies and they’re gone in 20 mins. A snack is just that, a snack. It’s not intended to fill them up. It’s a mid-meal treat. If they eat all your snacks until they fill up, they’ll have no room for dinner.
  • My mom came home from the store every two weeks and told us, “You can eat all of this today, or you can make it last”. We made it last. That was the same principle when friends came over. What was put out was all there was. When it was gone, it was gone. Just set what is available on the counter. they aren’t going to eat healthier stuff unless they are hungry.
  • if I put out pizza, it is all eaten and some don’t get any, but if I put out sandwiches, there are left overs.
  • keep some of the stash hidden.  set limits. Set aside one shelf in the pantry or one shelf in the fridge or one spot on the counter and that’s the snack spot. They may only get snacks from the designated place.
  • Watch portion sizes! Portion control is the key to saving money and teaching healthy habits! Growing kids are often hungry, but   serve them a healthy portion size and make them wait a bit to settle in their tummy.
  • Keep snacks in one section of the fridge or pantry for snacks that they can have at will so you can make sure you  keep food for meals.
  • kids know shopping days and how long they need to make it last, which helps.
  • a “Supply”  that  only I am allowed into to help   keep a collection of snacks going and not see it disappear.
  • freeze leftovers in individual containers.
  • filling up on chips and junk they are less likely to eat their dinner



    • big tubs of hummus (about 5 bucks at Sam’s or made from scratch) with some crackers or chips  is pretty healthy
    • Hummus from scratch- Dried chickpeas are dirt cheap and the tahini (around $6 for 16 oz, depending on the store). If you have a food processor you can whip up a batch in a few minutes.  There are hundreds of recipes online for homemade hummus and tahini.    without tahini it tastes just as great!   but you can also make your own tahini out of sesame seeds  – buy sesame seeds and dried garbanzo beans in bulk.
    • add  roasted red pepper – I believe I got a recipe on or maybe in the big old standard white cookbook – Joy of Cooking!
    • found tahini cheaper at Middle Eastern grocery stores. Our local supermarket wanted $9 for a jar and we can get one at the Arabic store for like $4, and if you only use 1/4-1/2 c. per batch, it lasts a long time. I’d recommend storing it in the cupboard and not the fridge; we made that mistake once and it was a bear to try to scoop out!

My favorite is Mark Bittman’s recipe (though I tweak it a little):
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 T cumin or more to taste
juice of 1 lemon (I use slightly less)
1/3 cup of water (or more as needed)

Blitz everything in the food processor, save for the water. Then add the water as needed to make a smooth puree. Taste and add more garlic, salt, lemon or cumin as needed.

you can even mix it up by adding half tahini and half peanut butter paste or almond butter paste to be frugal, as well as to get a whole new taste, which they will love!

I’ve even made it without Tahini, which makes it even cheaper. Just the chickpeas, olive oil, a little cumin and salt. Super cheap and easy!

Black beans instead of chickpeas works well too for a little variety.

recipe called for dried peas that you put in the crock pot with water over night or all day which I like so you don’t get all that sodium!



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