Monday, February 18, 2013

Cheap Eats Week 3: Snacks

Hey! It's Week 3 of Cheap Eats and I'm excited to keep sharing what works for our family.

This week we were out of town for half the week, so I only have a few days of menu to show you.

Tuesday: Whole Wheat Blender Pancakes, Peach Topping, Scrambled Eggs
Wednesday: Cornbread Casserole, Frozen Mixed Vegetables
Thursday: Valentine's Day! Heart-Shaped Individual Pizzas, Carrot Hearts and Pink Milk
Friday: Road trip time! See below for car-friendly food ideas

P.S. Cornbread casserole is a chili-like filling (from scratch or a can) on the bottom with cornbread batter baked over the top. Easy, hearty, delicious!

Here's my shopping receipt:

2 gallons milk 4.56                              breakfast, snacks, baking
Peanut butter 2.98                              sandwiches and snacks
Frozen mixed vegetables .78               dinner side dish
Pepperoni 1.78                                   Valentine's Day pizzas
2 lb. shredded cheese 5.98                  Valentine's Day pizzas plus lots of extra
2 packages hot dogs .96                     snacks
Frozen peaches 2.08                           pancake topping
2 lbs margarine 1.56                            baking, toast
2 lbs carrots .88                                  heart carrots, snacks
3 small cans tomato sauce .54             stocking up
1.63 lbs bananas .85                           snacks
.57 lbs raisins .94                                snacks
.19 lb dried mango pineapple .33          snacks (I had never tried them and they looked so yummy)
.10 lb garlic powder .36                       refilling my spice rack
2 loaves cheap bread 1.76                   lunches, snacks
4 ramen packages .68                         lunches, snacks
Great Grains whole wheat bread .98     Mom's lunches :)
5 dozen eggs 4.98                              scrambled eggs, snacks, baking

Total after tax: 35.47

One area of cheap eating that seems overwhelming to people is snacks. And I'll tell you why... we have been taught that a "snack" is something that is bought at the store and comes in a single serve container: chips, crackers, snack pack pudding, Little Debbie cakes, fruit snacks, etc. When I had my first child, I thought along these lines too. I bought Goldfish crackers, granola bars and all the rest because that's what a snack is, right?. Then one day I woke up and thought, "What am I doing? Kids don't need that kind of stuff. Why am I still buying it? Why can't we just eat real food?" That epiphany has changed the way we snack. We don't buy processed junk food routinely any more. Instead, we get a bag of chips or Nutty Bars as a special treat. All those cookies and crackers are tasty, but I just decided it wasn't worth the price, it didn't fill my kids up and it wasn't healthy either.

Now, the question I'm sure you are asking is, "What do you eat instead?" Well, here's the list:

Inexpensive Snack Ideas

- Home baked goods (muffins, pancakes, breads, biscuits, cookies, etc. Can be baked, then frozen)
- Hard boiled eggs
- Apples with peanut butter for dipping
- Carrot sticks cut from whole carrots (baby carrots are about $2/lb while whole carrots are $0.88/lb)
- Sliced cheese (a 1 oz cheese stick is about 40 cents. A 1 oz slice of cheese from a block is about 19 cents)
- Broiled cheese sandwiches
- Peanut butter banana toast
- Homemade granola and milk
- Hot dogs (I know, I know...you either love 'em or hate 'em)
- Glass of milk
- Sliced cucumbers
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
- Celery sticks
- Raisins
- Smoothies (I save half-eaten fruit and anything that is close to going bad in the freezer until I have enough to make a smoothie, then I blend it all up with a little milk)
- Toast with butter, jam, cinnamon sugar or peanut butter
- In-season fruit (We have been loving having cutie oranges in season. Yum!)
- In-season vegetables

I have a similar view of road trip snacks. I used to buy candy and chips so we would have something to eat in the car. Then by the time we got where we were going, I was still hungry and my tummy hurt from all the junk. Not the best way to start out a road trip. Now I make real food to take along. It takes more prep work on my part, but it saves us so much money and we feel a lot better when we arrive at our destination, so it's worth it to me.

Inexpensive Car Snacks

Bombs (if we are going to be in the car for dinner)
Cheese rolls
- Cookies of any variety (my favorite recipes are Double Chocolate and Cranberry Oatmeal)
- Grapes
- Most anything from the snack list above, depending on what type of mess you are willing to deal with. :)

One last thing I wanted to add. I had a friend who kept a snack basket in the fridge. She would fill small reusable containers with pre-cut, pre-washed fruit, vegetables, cheese, or whatever else in snack-sized portions so that when her kids were hungry, she could just tell them to choose something from the snack basket. I love that idea! You could also keep a second basket of snacks that don't need to be refrigerated. It would save my sanity on days when I feel like someone is always asking me to drop everything to get them something to eat. Why haven't I done it? That's a good question! I should start!


Weekly Total: $35.47
Remaining After Last Week: $96.90
Remaining for the Month: $61.43

If you would like to see all of the posts in this series, click on the "Cheap Eats" tab under the blog header at the top of the page.

5 comments:

  1. Great ideas. I am excited to try breaking out of the crackers rut.

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  2. Dang, eggs are cheap wherever you live. And so is your milk. It's 1.80 for a dozen eggs here and 2.50/gal for Milk in western Oregon.

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  3. @Lauren I do live in a very low cost of living area...which means the salaries are generally lower here too. But I can't complain. I'm grateful that my husband is employed and that we are making it!

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  4. Oh wow, we're paying $4-5 for a gallon of milk in PA recently. We're spending about $800 / month at the grocery store. We can works in the budget but I don't like it. I'm battling against time (I run a FT business from home) and a hubby who isn't exactly on board with the idea of giving up convenience foods. I began menu planning in March and wen spent more. Sigh......but I'm not giving up!

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  5. Love the 'bomb' idea. We often do musubes - its a similar idea, but very easy: we make a big pot of short-grain sticky rice and then you let it cool just enough that you can handle it. Stand at the sink, wet your hands, sprinkle salt on your hands and then press some rice into one palm. Add a filling (canned tuna mixed with a soy sauce; krab and mayo; leftover terriyaki chicken, pickles, etc.), add more rice and sqeeze it into a firm ball (this is the hard part because if you don't sqeeze enough it falls apart when you eat it). Wrap it up in saran wrap after you use bits of seaweed, sesame seeds, etc to indicate what's inside. Perfect for picnics and cheap and delicious.

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