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
Buying fresh fruits and veggies in season (while it seems like a no-brainer) can keep eating healthy exciting while also being cost-effective. During summer, I love going to Woodman’s Food Market for watermelon, berries, cherries, and bell peppers (cuz eating carrots every day-trust me, I do it-can get boring).
Another great granola bar option is the LARABAR. Fruit + Nuts = soo yummy.
I have to agree. Larabars are great and even better when you find them on sale or in bulk. As an adult, I keep a few of theses stashed nearby at all times.
We started last year ditching the daily purchase of water bottles and got two really cool glass containers with colored rubber coating. We still use them!
I prepare different sandwiches for my daughter. I also let her to bring her own water instead of buying bottled water.
These are some pretty good tips. I don’t have kids, but I do have to have small snacks throughout the day for myself sometimes. How do you keep the sliced apples from getting brown? I do use the tip of cutting veggies immediately when I get home from store, otherwise they end up in the fridge un-cut and usually un-eaten before they go bad.
We have no kids but beside his own small business My boyfriend also studies at the same time (scool most fridays and saturdays). He tends on buying bread, cheese and fruit at the shop to avoid the restaurant, but I try help out to make it even more economic. The day before I bake pies with fruit we have available (apples and prunes now, more than we can process) so he won’t buy cookies or chocolate, and it’s fairly quick and easy to do, quiches also, sometimes I just cut some homemade bread and pack it with cheese and olives or something we already have, or boil some pasta and cut tomatoes, in the morning he trows it all in a tupperware with some pesto and that’s lunch.
He takes a big thermos of herbal tea in winter, and at the moment he fills it halfway with our own applejuice and tops it off with tapwater, he takes sirup sometimes too. Muffins are also a quick thing to bake in bulk and then put in lunchboxes during the week. Just by putting bread, fruit and some sweet on the counter, ready to pack, reduce a expenses for us.