This week (and let’s face it, this season in general!), we have a lot of commitments outside the house which are going to interrupt our meal times and require my children to have a hearty, healthy snack which might substitute for lunch or dinner and get them through a concert, ballet rehearsal or long day of sports. To avoid the temptation to hit Chik-fil-A on a daily basis, I thought I would set up a snack plan.
I don’t usually buy a lot of prepared foods, so a quick grab and go snack in our family can be difficult, but yesterday I went to the grocery store to pick up some things for snacks. I bought graham crackers, granola bars, cheddar bunnies, cookies, basically a lot of food in boxes. Boy, was I surprised when I got to the check out — a week worth of snacks for our family of six children cost almost as much as a regular weeks groceries! Now, since some of these are meal replacements, I will spend less on groceries, but still, I can’t spend that much every week all summer!
My little kids were begging for the snacks that they know are in the pantry, but I don’t want them snacking all the time and also I don’t want them eating all of this expensive, prepared food when we are at home!
Also, my big children complain that when a snack comes out — cheddar bunnies, for example, the littles eat so much, so fast, that the ones actually doing the activity don’t get enough to eat.
We need a plan.
Well, providentially, I just happened to see a well organized pantry snack bin pinned on BMama’s pinterest board this morning which has given me hope and some new ideas. I am not putting up the picture here, because I am still not really clear on pinterest and copyright, so you will have to use your imagination.
Here is what went in my bin:
POPCORN. Why didn’t I think of that? Now, we have an air popper, so I can make popcorn in no time, it is healthy and cheap! I popped 1/3 cup of popcorn this morning and put it into 6 little baggies. Next, I took a my box of Newman’s Ginger-Os, and placed the cookies, 3 at a time, into 6 baggies. NEXT TIME I WILL JUST BAKE A BATCH OF COOKIES! I divided up the cheddar bunnies into bags as well, and one box was more than enough for 6 bags. I put a two handfuls of raw almonds into each of six bags. I opened a box of granola bars and put them in. I put the leftover Easter candy in. Now, we have a bin of snacks. I added 6 small tupperware type containers, empty.
Then, I made a “Pack-a-Snack” chart and put it in on the fridge. It says that your snack bag should contain:
1- fruit or vegetable (there are cut up cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, and berries prepped in the fridge, or you can grab an apple, pear or orange slices. This goes into one of the tupperwares)
1-protein (string cheese, sliced cheddar, small yogurt, almonds or peanut butter sandwich)
1-bottle of water (in a reusable bottle)
2-bags from the snack bin
Because of the way that I divided up the snacks, the prepared food that I bought is going to last about twice as long as I expected and be mixed in with some healthier foods that we would eat at home. From now on, when someone brings us baked goods, I am going to repackage and add them to the snack bin. I am also going to try at least once a week to have one of the kids bake something (cookies, banana bread) that can be a snack bin addition.
When the baby is born, we will have a few desperate weeks where the snacks will be prebagged chips from Sam’s club, but I consider that an alternative form of “hired help”. In the meantime, I can do a little bit of homemade to stretch the snack budget and also, by preportioning the snacks and creating a little meal menus, I make sure that my kids don’t turn orange from a steady diet of junkfood on busy days!