This post was originally published in August 2015 – before we had two more kids! The addition of 2 more kids didn’t really change these tips much, so I reworked this post for ease of reading, but left all the pre-baby details there. We still utilize this system in our home – with now four kids.
As we get closer to the time to have our next baby, I have been in nesting mode to the MAX. I have tried to create systems which are easy to understand and follow for when we (inevitably) have help in the home after baby arrives and I recover from the (likely) C-section. Having these systems in place will help our girls to be able to direct whoever is helping with the procedures of our home.
One of the most pressing needs in our home is food. The girls are ALWAYS hungry – always! I thought it would be wise to create an easy-to-reach snack station for our girls which contains LOTS of options for each week. The selections are based on their go-to snack choices.
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We have just had this system in place for a few weeks, but already it is working really well for us. The girls have taken to helping me with getting it set up and keeping it in order throughout the week. I have been really impressed with how much less I am buying at the store because I know we have enough snacks for each week.
So I thought I would share with you my tips for simple snack planning on a budget.
Pay Attention to Serving Sizes
We have preschoolers and adults to serve in this house. And the nice thing about having little mouths to feed is their bellies fill faster than ours. When I am shopping for snack foods for the girls (and for us), I look at the serving sizes to determine how far a particular package of food will take us.
I have noticed that some products have what I consider to be insane serving sizes – like 5 chips per serving. That doesn’t mean that I won’t buy an item with an odd serving size, but I do want to keep in mind how much food is in each serving to get ready for the next steps.
Set a Goal Price per Serving
We have different kinds of snacks in our snack shelf. Some are more expensive than others: our salty and sweet snacks are typically cheaper per serving than our fruit and breakfast snacks. Having a good idea of how much I want to spend per snack serving helps me keep within our grocery budget for the week.
Also having it broken down into a price per serving helps me to compare different products with one another quickly while I am in the store. I like to shoot for 20-30 cents per serving for sweet and salty snacks and less than 50 cents per serving on our fruit and breakfast snacks.
Shop the Dollar Store for Your favorite brands
One of the little known facts about the dollar store circuit is they have lots of national name brand products at really good prices. What is usually different from what you find in the typical grocery store is the packaging. It is usually a smaller size.
Check to make sure you are really getting a good deal for your dollar.
We went to the local dollar store this weekend. We found my favorite brands of prepackaged peanut butter and crackers (something I like to have on hand for blood sugar problems) and a favorite graham cracker snack. At the dollar store the peanut butter crackers were 16 cents per serving and the graham crackers were 14 cents per serving. I grabbed a couple of each of them at those prices and we will enjoy our favorites for less than we would have paid at the grocery store with coupons.
Shop in Bulk for your favorite snacks
We are loyal warehouse store customers because we have found certain items where we can really save big. A few of the items we really like to buy are breakfast items: cereal bars, fig bars, yogurt; and dried fruits and nuts. We have found when we purchase these in bulk, we can divide them up into serving sizes and save.
Divide the Snacks into Categories
When I get home from the store or on the weekend sometime, I take the time (just a few minutes) to separate out the snacks for our week into separate snack size baggies and put them into specific categorized bins. Our bins are on the bottom shelf of our pantry and are labeled (and you will typically find in them):
- Breakfast – cereal bars and fig bars, homemade instant oatmeal packets
- Salty – crackers, popcorn, and nuts
- Sweet – cookies, graham crackers
- Fruit – raisins, dried cranberries
My older daughter is starting to read, so she can now read the bins and help her sister to find the appropriate snack for the time of day. They can help me quickly get breakfast together (especially when we are on the go!) or find a snack based on what I tell them they may have.
We are not back-to-schoolers just yet, but I know these tips would definitely come in handy for back to school season. Do you have a snack planning and sorting routine? I would love to hear about it in the comments!