5 Quick, Efficient Ideas for School Year Snacks

school snack ideas andthenwesaved.com

Hey there, I’m in New York City this week shooting a few more instructional videos for PNC Bank (I’ll be showing pics from the week on my Instagram if you want to follow along.) so here is a very timely, back-to-school post by Mr. Mike Dariano. xo, Anna

I don’t know exactly what my children do at school but whatever it is they must be doing it nonstop. They must be like little hummingbirds, buzzing from room to room, activity to activity, because when my kids finish school each day they are starving. If their teacher is training them to be sherpas on Mount Everest I wouldn’t doubt it.

There was one day when all my daughter had as a snack was a handful of TicTacs and granola bars. I felt bad about this and vowed to plan better snacks for them but vowing and having are two different things. Now that the school year has just begun, we have less time and more things to do so our snacking needs to be organized better.  Here’s what I’ve done to avoid any more TicTac lunches.

5 Quick, Efficient Ideas for School Year Snacks…

1. Make Efficient Use of Your Time: Slice three apples at a time.

My kids love Gala apples and they’re a regular snack around our house, unless we don’t have time to eat them. I could let them eat a whole apple but at five and three years old they’re messy enough. Instead I slice three at a time and put them into a container in our refrigerator.  If they want them at home, they know where to find some.  If we’re rushing out the door, I know where to grab them from.

2. Keep it Simple: Buy only one brand.

In our house we love granola bars so, we’ve settled on Cliff bars as the only granola bar in our house. My goal was to limit the amount of sugar in a granola bar and increase the amount of protein and these bars fit those 2 needs. The secret to having them when we need them? Don’t let them ever enter our house. Keep them stored in the car so they are always ready for emergency hunger attacks.

3. Make Inexpensive Veggies Accessible: Broccoli and carrots.

It our house the easiest veggies are simple, sliced broccoli and carrots. When these come home from the store they each immediately get cut into dippable pieces and placed in the refrigerator next to the apple. Besides being ready for the kids they also make easy vegetable additions to dinner.

4. Skip the Expensive Pre-packaged Snacks: Make it at home.

Rather than buying pre-packaged trail mix we make ours right at home. I’ve found that if the kids make something they immediately like it. We gather up all the possible trail mix ingredients and start mixing together the cereal, nuts, dried fruit, and candy together and portion it out in zip top bags so we can grab these and go out the door. This is also a really great way to use up foods that might be going bad soon.

5. Do Not Buy Bottled Water: Bring your own re-usable bottle.

Water is great but expensive bottled water is not. That’s why we keep our water bottles at the ready. At school my daughters seem to be interested in everything except for keeping themselves hydrated so when they settle into their seats after school they are thirsty little animals.  At night we put out our water bottles along with shoes so they too are ready for the next day.

There is a lot of running kids around so with a little bit of planning ahead, we can do without stopping at McDonald’s every other day.  Most of what we do is to have things ready to go by the door and we keep things in the car. Once we got over the hump of starting the new habits we all became healthier and the snack portion of the budget got a lot smaller.


How do you save money on after school snacks? If you have any secrets we’d love to hear about them in the comments!  

Mike Dariano is a father to two daughters, walker to two dogs, and husband to -thankfully – one wife.  He writes at mikedariano.net


in Family & Relationships, Kids, Practical Solutions, Things To Do
8 Home Projects You Should Just Pay Someone to Do

home repairs you should just pay someone to do andthenwesaved.com

Being on a money-saving mission typically means that when something’s broken you try to fix it, yourself, rather than buying something new. Some lucky souls are born with handyman skills which allow them to handle any repair or home improvement project that comes along. However, there are a lot of us who may have the ambition to get the job done but lack the knowledge or experience to get the job done right. Rather than jack something up even worse, and rather than taking a lot of time to teach yourself something that someone else is already fully trained to do (and therefore losing hours of your life – which is way more valuable than money).

You might be surprised to hear me say this but, there are actually some home improvements or repair projects that I fully believe you should just pay someone else to do because they are simply over the DIY/money-saving-at-all-costs level.


Not Worth the Trouble (or Time) – 8 Home Improvement/Repair Projects You Should Just Pay Someone to Do

1. Electricity-Related Projects

Electrical work can be deadly if not done properly. Not only is the one who is doing the work at risk of being severely injured (or even killed) everyone who lives at the home (and surrounding homes if you’re in a condo or apartment) can be injured if electrical work is done wrong. So, if you’re not experienced in electrical work, leave it to the professionals. In many locations, electrical work can only be completed by a licensed electrician and will require inspections once the work is completed. If you end up needing electrical work, call up contact a certified electrician.

2. Plumbing Work

Like electricity, plumbing is better left to the professionals. Plumbing work needs to be done properly by an experienced plumber or you end up putting your home at-risk for water damage and flooding. If you know nothing about plumbing, contact a certified plumber to take care of installing new pipes or replacing broken, leaky ones.

3. Pool Installation

You might be thinking, “Uhhhh… pool installation, really?” BUT. Get this – there are actually many new products on the market that allow you to easily set up a backyard, in ground pool. Yes. Seriously! (Like this DIY pool installation kit) While these pool packages are cost-effective and relatively easy to set up in your yard, there are plenty of other factors to consider. Namely, the safety of the pool is a concern. If you set-up the pool at a location where the yard is not completely level, your pool won’t be stable and may even become unsafe to swim in. Unless you are an experienced excavator, hire someone to professionally level the ground and set up the pool so it is reliable and safe for the whole family.

4. Tree-Trimming

If the trees in your yard are much higher than your reaching abilities, hire a professional tree trimmer to safely trim off the lengthy limbs. Tree-trimming is a task that should be completed by a professional due to the many safety issues. Professional tree trimmers are properly trained and have the necessary equipment to reach the branches situated at great heights. Never climb up the tree with a chainsaw if you don’t know what you are doing as the limbs lost will likely be yours. No bueno, yo.

5. Mold Remediation

If your basement or some other area of your home retains moisture and develops mold, leave the remediation work to the professionals. Some mold and mildew that develops in a home can be harmless but there are also a lot of mold variations that are very harmful to one’s health. If you discover mold growth, don’t attempt to attack it with some bleach on your own (I’m always tempted to do that) because the mold might be far more insidious than you realize with an untrained eye. To ensure the job is done completely, properly, and safely, find a mold remediation specialist to get the job done right.

6. Asbestos/Lead Removal

Many older homes contain harmful amounts of lead paint or asbestos which can be exposed during a renovation project. Tearing down walls or ripping up floors can stir up the poisonous dirt that can cause major respiratory illnesses. Avoid the potential health concern by hiring a professional contractor who knows how to deal with the harmful debris, and has the equipment necessary to get the job done correctly. Even if you are not intentionally trying to remove these harmful materials, any renovation work done on older homes may expose dangerous particles of asbestos, lead, or other harmful materials.

7. Pest Infestations

If your home needs improvement to eradicate pests like ants, termites, or rodents, it is ideally, better to hire a professional who can solve the problem for good. Commercial pest sprays and traps can be somewhat helpful but will not get to the root of the problem. A pest company can find out where the home base of the pests is (usually out of sight), and eliminate it for good so you don’t end up with a recurring problem. Pest experts can also advise you on the damage that has been done due to the pests to make repairs more effective. Pests can cause damage that you may not be able to see but which it could put your home at risk.

8. Energy-Efficiency Improvements

There are several tax breaks that are available to homeowners if you increase the energy efficiency of your home. By hiring an energy-efficient expert they’ll be able to analyze the areas where your home is lacking efficiency, and make the necessary recommendations for updating. A professional can also do a more thorough job of increasing energy efficiency than a do-it-yourselfer because if you miss areas that need improvement you may be still losing money through unrepaired areas.


Did I miss any home projects that should be left to the pros? Or, what do you think, can some of these projects be done DIY just as good as the pros do it?

(Kind of related because we’re talking about house stuff, and home improvements: 6 Tips to Weigh the Best Resale Home Improvements)


in DIY, How To, Investing
Should I Buy It Decision Card

should i buy it decision card andthenwesaved.com Hi there, I keep getting emails about the Should I Buy It Decision Card not working from the original post (sorry about that!) so rather than emailing it to you all individually (which I would totally do;), and have been doing) I figured I’d try uploading this again so hopefully it will work smoothly this time. Here’s the new Should I Buy It Decision Card link. (When the new page opens just click on the link again.) There are 2 – 5×7’s on 1 – 8×10 page so you can keep one and give one to a friend or keep them both and put one up by your computer screen for when you what to shop online and put the other one around your wallet, on your mirror, or save it as the wallpaper for your phone so you always have it with you. xo, Anna


in Do Without, Paying Off Debt, Practical Solutions, Take Action, Things To Do
  • Anna

    Hi, I'm Anna! I paid off close to 24k in debt in only 15 months & it completely changed my life! I want you to have a debt-free life too so here you'll be able to read all about: How to do a Spending Fast®, saving & making more money, DIY's, & a lot about living awesomely with less. Let's do this!

    Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

    Total Savings
  • Sign-up for Free Updates!

  • ModCloth
  • Featured On/In:

  • advertise on and then we saved

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Search

  • Wanna Know More?

  • And Then We Saved® and Spending Fast® are registered trademarks.
    All Rights Reserved.