Healthy Snack Ideas & Recipe Links

by Emily from Frugal Living NW on March 31, 2011

After reading the book, Serve God, Save the Planet (Amazon), last year my husband has been on a crusade to eliminate red dye from our home. The FDA is starting to take a closer look at food dye standards as well. I am totally on board (Except when we are nearing meltdown mode in the middle of the zoo. Those little candy vending machines by the elephant house were an inspired addition.) as I am on a quest to move our family toward a diet that emphasizes real food and cuts back on processed junk. As Amanda Hesser puts it  in Cooking for Mr. Latte, “I avoid eating food whose ingredients I can’t picture in my head.” I like this definition because it includes the ingredients I truly adore like sugar and cream and butter and cheese.

While my little family is not quite to the point of avoiding junk food altogether — my children still eat cereal with four-syllable ingredients, my husband has never met a hot dog he didn’t like, and I have no self-control when I get my hands on a package of Keebler Grasshopper cookies — we are focused on eating real food as much as possible. It’s definitely not perfect, but for now it’s a happy mix that works for us.

I think eating real food is the trickiest in the snack department. Ugh. Snacks are the bane of my existence. If you have kids, you know the drill: approximately 15 minutes after you have cleaned up one meal, they are already begging for a… snack. In all fairness, though, I guess my husband and I have been guilty of this way before the miniature people invaded our home. We are snackers. And a snacker without a plan is not a good combination.

Here are a few ideas that have worked well in our home:

Never leave home without food & water. Yep, survival skills 101… even if you’re just trying to survive a morning of running errands. Sometimes I feel like a very large squirrel. I have nuts tucked into car’s glove box and animal crackers in my purse and small bags of Cheerios in my coat pockets. A little pre-planning goes a long way, though. Those snacky impulse buys are grocery budget killers.

Buy in bulk/on sale and create your own snack packs. Forget those pre-packaged containers of carrot sticks or overpriced snack-sized bags of chips. You can do that for a fraction of the cost. If you are busy, try spending some time on Sunday night slicing fruit & vegetables or bagging up cheese & crackers into smaller portions for the upcoming week. That way, your fridge is stocked with healthy snack options you can grab in a hurry. And your wallet doesn’t take the hit.

Add snack ideas to your menu plan and grocery list. Don’t you hate going grocery shopping only to come home and there’s “nothing to eat”? I am finding I have to be much more intentional about this area, or I am quickly surrounded by natives suffering from LBSCBDO. Whether you buy fruit snacks of dry your own fruit leather, make a plan to keep your family and your finances on track.

Set a snack time. In our home it’s around 10:30am, 3pm, and of course after the kids are in bed. I know it’s not rocket science, but this small change has kept me from feeling like I never leave the kitchen. It also helps to ensure my kids are actually hungry when meal time rolls around.

Keep a running snack list in the kitchen. As a sure sign of how lame and uncreative I am when it comes to snacks, I actually have a list of ideas taped to the inside of one of my kitchen cabinets. It may sound silly, but it (often) keeps me from grabbing a handful of chocolate chips or giving my kids fistfuls of dry cereal every five minutes. Removing the guesswork is also a lifesaver when life is too crazy for real meals (moving or remodeling, new baby, big deadline, etc).

My healthy-ish snack list looks something like this:

Ok, these recipes don’t technically make the “healthy” cut, but all of the ingredients are real. For the love of butter & cream, I am planning to make these in the very near future:

Leave a comment! What would you add to the list? How do you keep your family well-fed in between meals [without losing your mind]?

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicole B July 17, 2013 at 5:30 pm

So I know this post was from a long time ago so I doubt you will see this comment but it’s worth a shot! I am trying to find simple homemade healthy snacks and I am really excited about the granola bars but the link doesn’t seem to be working. Any suggestions? Thanks for all you guys do! :)


Emily from Frugal Living NW July 17, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Thanks for the comment! I updated the link. Let us know how your granola bars turn out!


Nicole B July 17, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Wow thank you for the quick response! I can’t wait to try them out!


Jenn @ I Am Not Superwoman June 5, 2012 at 7:45 pm

A recent go to for our family has been chickpea sandwhiches or we use it as dip on pita bread or crackers. Similar to hummus but with celery, onion, mayo, etc. Here is a link to my recipe.


James February 1, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Here is a Great Recipe for the morning plus I can say that it is a great thing to have in the morning with plenty of protein to keep you awake during the day. Plus it is a great frugal recipe, nice and cheap to make so that makes it worth while.

I enjoyed the Article have a great day!


Stephanie April 1, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Love the snack list! Thank you so much. I so resonate with what you said – I HATE going grocery shopping and coming home to have… nothing to eat. I think I will print out the list for ideas.


ruthann April 1, 2011 at 9:05 am

thanks for the snack list Emily! all sounds good and very doable…
do don’t personally suffer from: lbscbdo do you?


Heidi April 1, 2011 at 7:58 am

I have 4 growing kids and they all love the Franz cinnamon mini bagels. They sell for about $2 at WinCo for 12 but you can get them for about half that at the Franz bakery outlet stores. They are all natural (no HFCS or preservatives) and are 100 calories. We buy a ton and they freeze really well.
I also aim to spend 15 cents each or less on snacks. It just helps me keep on track.


Heidi April 1, 2011 at 7:59 am

Oh and they have plain (ewww) and whole wheat (yum) varieties as well.


Rebecca April 1, 2011 at 1:01 am

I burst out laughing when I read “Sometimes I feel like a very large squirrel.” ! Oh my, that was funny, and so very true.


Vanessa March 31, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Thanks for the ideas. I think I am going to follow your lead and set a snack time because my kithen seems to always be open for the little ones.
I have a friend that makes homemade Lara Bars and now I want to try. Kids love them. Just google it and a ton of different ideas/flavors will come up.


Amber H March 31, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Ok this is a great post, but oh my heck, I love the photo choice!


charolyn March 31, 2011 at 5:59 pm

The homemade granola bars look really good-I am going to try them. Those are the kind I like with nuts, dried fruit & oatmeal (have lots of the quick now after the great oatmeal catalina & seemed like that was the type they had the most of).
I also make the no bake cookie: oatmeal, milk, sugar, butter, cocoa-or chocolate chips work too-last time I was out of cocoa & that worked, peanut butter, & vanilla. I think it is better than a lot of choices, but I eat too much of them, so rarely make it-although you can cut the recipe way down & only make a small batch. Another time saver-just put it all in a pan-like a bar cookie-press lightly & works fine.
Here is another cookie I was thinking of passing on as there is going to be LOTS of corn flakes now!-also I consider semi-healthy-and very quick:
1 small pkg butterscotch chips + 2 tbsp Peanut butter (I use heaping Tbsp)-
melt together in the microwave in a large glass bowl-heat 15 sec then stir & repeat until melted-(also can use the old fashioned double boiler-if you know what that is!-I first got this recipe in grade school-before microwaves!)
add 2C+ corn flakes (I put in as much as can get coated with the melted mixture-to cut down on sugar)-
drop by tsp on a cookie sheet-or can put loosely in 9×13 & break a part.
Also very addictive!


Jodie July 24, 2011 at 8:42 am

So true. Honesty and eevrthying recognized.


Darla March 31, 2011 at 5:23 pm

for your husband, you can get hotdogs at Trader Joe’s that all the ingredients are known and able to picture! Same with their ketchup!

Love the snack list too!


jill cropp March 31, 2011 at 4:07 pm

I love the idea of a snack list. I don’t think its sill at all! A good practice for adults too so you aren’t always grabbing for the potato chips.


Krista S. March 31, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Thank you so much for the snack list and I love the idea of putting it on the fridge. I too set a snack time (twice a day), but some days I find it hard to be creative with “real” food and not just throwing fruit snacks at them! I do well with all three meals and making sure they are balanced with fruits, veggies, protein, etc. Thanks for the insipirational snack post – off to make homemade granola bars! Yum!


kimi March 31, 2011 at 10:39 am

Great list with lots of good ideas, thank you. It is so easy to get stuck in a snack rut.


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