Save money on school snacks: try these easy, healthier options

What to put in children’s lunch bags as they head off to school is always a lingering question most parents have on their minds. Because the little ones are still growing, what they eat influences their development, so naturally, parents want the best for their kids.

Serving nutritious snacks to children is crucial for delivering adequate nutrition, promoting lifelong healthy eating habits, and helping to prevent illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and obesity, which are costly and possibly debilitating.

Nutrition factored in, there is also the issue of cost and the ease of preparation when choosing what snacks to buy for school. Because of time, most parents end up throwing in candy bars, potato chips, sugary drinks, donuts, etc.; things that are ready to eat and have no preparation time. It might seem easier at the time, but when dental bills start to come in too, you will realise it’s not as cheap to choose such snacks for your kids.

Photo by Sarah Pflug from Burst

What can you serve them then, taking into consideration the time, cost and quality of the snack?

The trick is to plan in advance. Knowing what to pack on every school day will save you both time and money. It will also be easier to ask the older kids to pack their own snacks when you are aware of what you have planned for the day.

Make a habit of going through shop catalogs looking for sales and promotions to list your requirements for the week ahead and get them before they run out. Here is an example of how you can plan your snacks for the week.

Snack Price Nutritional Facts Day of the week
Greenwise Organic Red/White Seedless Grapes 2.49 Source of Fiber and Vitamin C Monday
Greenwise Bakery Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Cookies 3.99 Source of Carbohydrates and Protein Tuesday
Oui by Yoplait French Style Yogurt 3 for 4.00 Source of Calcium, Phosphorus, Vitamin B12 Wednesday
Ithaca Hummus (**serve with vegetables) 2 for 8.00 Source of Protein and Fiber Thursday
Greenwise Organic Gala Apples Buy One Get One Free Source of Fiber, Potassium, Vitamin C and K Friday

Source: Publix weekly ad next week.

**Vegetables to serve with raw hummus include celery sticks, cucumber, tomato slices/grape/cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks/baby carrots, cauliflower, snow/snap peas, bell peppers and zucchini slices.

Photo by Amoon ra on Unsplash

It may seem difficult to serve fresh fruits and vegetables. It is, however, made simpler by careful planning and the rising number of shelf-stable fruits and vegetables on the market. Though some people believe fruits and vegetables are expensive snacks, they are really less expensive per serving than many other less-healthy snacks like potato chips.

You can also add things like bran or wholewheat muffins, pita bread pockets stuffed with vegetables dipped in bean dip or hummus, crackers, rice cakes, popcorn, granola and cereal bars, etc.

Note:  Remember to always include a bottle of water with the snacks.

Water is healthier than fruit juices because though many purport a 100% purity, they contain too many sugars. Even carbonated drinks like Seltzer, club soda or sparkling water are healthier. If your child is lactose tolerant, try low-fat or fat-free (skim) milk as well. Calcium-fortified soy drinks are a good alternative for kids who don’t want to consume or are allergic to cow’s milk.

Photo by Serenity Mitchell on Unsplash

To make it fun for the kids, perhaps create and put up a chart that explains why each type of snack is good for them, what it does for their bodies, and the general health and wellbeing benefits as they grow. It will help them with their science too.

Read more on shopping for school on a budget

Summary

Making snacks for your kids for school should not be a daunting task. Plan ahead and make use of sales and promotions to save both money and time. Fruits, vegetables and water are the healthiest and cheapest options to go for.

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