Your assignment: instead of spending money five days a week on unhealthy, overpriced after-school munchies, keep your star students’ health (and your budget) in line. Can you make the grade?
Do your homework
From the simple to the decadent, there’s a snack made from scratch for every cook. When it comes to tightening up the food budget, making snacks at home is more fun and interactive than clipping coupons. Get the kids to batch trail mix in the kitchen, where they can throw in their favorite nuts, pretzels, candy, dried fruits or other bite-size ingredients.
Go online, scope out your cookbooks or simply experiment to find snack recipes your kids will enjoy. A quick pantry inventory can show you which snack runs out fastest. Chances are you can make that (or a fun alternative) at home. From granola bars to toaster pastries to cheddar crackers, there’s almost no snack out of DIY-range.
There are, of course, some snacks you can’t replicate at home. But you can buy these in bulk. Whether crackers, chips or another boxed or bagged snack, these snacks are non-perishable, which means you needn’t worry about throwing out expired, untouched food.
Buying in bulk is an easy way to cut back on expenses. Instead of instinctively dishing out quarters on vending machine treats, why not treat your pantry to a heap of snacks that are cheaper by the bag? Bonus points to parents who scout out discounts and in-store savings, too.
Ditch the disposable
If your expensive plastic storage bags disappear from their box as fast as they appear in the trash, it’s time to invest in some reusable snack bags. These up-and-coming, earth- and budget-friendly alternatives to the disposable bag are making a name for themselves in the snack scene.
They’re easy to clean, safe for food and last longer than their throwaway counterpart. Online retailers sell them in a rainbow of colors and patterns ideal for girls and boys. Sealed with a zip, Velcro or drawstring, these bags are definitely not square when it comes to design. Most come in the $5-$7 range, which translates to big savings in the long run.
Although you can strive to get an “A” on your own parenting report card this school year by snacking smarter, the real reward is much greater than a grade or a thousand gold stars: teaching your kids how to be money- and health-savvy by setting an example.
Sheri Alzeerah is a journalist and freelance writer for meal planning service www.foodonthetable.com.