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Just Doing My Best: Inexpensive Snacks for Growing Children

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Inexpensive Snacks for Growing Children

This week's Works For Me Wednesday is a Backwards Edition, meaning I ask my readers for solutions to my dilemma.

As soon as I heard it was a Backwards Edition, I knew exactly what I wanted to ask you.

Our grocery bill has been steadily rising lately. My son is almost 13, and as those of you with pre-teen or teen boys know, boys this age cannot get enough to eat. I hear their appetites get even more insatiable when they are in their mid-teens.

So, here are my questions for you:

  1. If you have/ had a pre-teen or teen boy, please share with me your experience with their appetite and food requirements. He is my oldest and this is uncharted territory, so I'm feeling clueless.

  2. What ideas do you have for healthy, but frugal snack ideas to hold him over to the next meal? I'm talking VERY filling here...certain snacks, like cereal bars, don't even make a dent in his bottomless pit of a stomach.

I'm looking forward to reading your experiences and ideas. For the sake of our grocery budget and my son's belly, I hope you have lots of ideas for me. Thanks!!

You can read other blogger's dilemmas and their reader's solutions at Works for Me Wednesday, hosted by We Are THAT Family.

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My son just turned 13. He eats a ton of bread. He loves peanut butter and jelly, toast, english muffins and bagels. I always make sure I have extra loaves of bread in the freezer.
Okay my oldest boy is only 6, so I'm not yet seeing the eating large quantities several times per day, but I had a big brother growing up who played several sports, and I remember. We could not keep food in the house! I would go to make chocolate chip cookies with the chocolate chips my mom had bought the day before and the package would have one chip left! We started hiding food from him! I don't know if this will help, but snacks with protein are supposed to be more filling, like cashews, pistachios, and other nuts.
I agree with Chaos-think protein. String cheese (sometimes my kids wrap ham or pepperoni around it), oatmeal holds kids for a long, long time. If you want to go frugal, it's a good idea to make your own cookies. Oatmeal/raisin (or chocolate chip ;) cookies are pretty filling (more so then a cereal bar), you can throw some extra stuff in there too-wheat germ etc..
Make your own granola (much cheaper)

Almonds are healthy and filling. Basically just try to get protein into every meal-starting with the morning. Good luck!

Try peanut butter with apples/celery, peanut butter with cheese
I'm with the previous comment-my oldest is only 6, but I do know fiber and protein are filling! Oatmeal, homemade oatmeal bars, even whole grain cereal are full of fiber, so are fresh fruits. Throw an apple at him, smear it with peanut butter (or better yet give him the jar and the spoon!) Hopefully that's helpful!
Mine usually eat peanut butter on Ritz or popcorn.
Airpopped popcorn is super cheap...he could eat a vat of it for pennies. Trying to think of inexpensive protein...beans, of course. Cans of refried beans are pretty cheap. Roll some up in a tortilla for a quick burrito. Yogurt smoothies with bananas/other fruit and/or peanut butter. You could even make your own yogurt to make it cheaper.
I have heard that something about string cheese makes it filling.

Popcorn is great too!
My 12 1/2 year old son eats LOTS of popcorn, cheese, bananas w/ peanut butter and cinammon and water. We make him drink a glass of water while eating.
Muffins- packed with whole grains, nuts, and/or fruits

Laura at Heavenly Homemakers has a recipe for "breakfast cookies" that are fairly low sugar, high fiber, and good for you butter-fat that is great to have around!
(-can freeze the cookies and muffins to thaw in the microwave or laid out in the morning to have through the day)
Salsa and chips

Frozen treats, made from yogurt and fruit and a healthy sweetener

Tammy's Recipes has great homemade granola and granola bar recipes

Tortillas with cheese and meat or peanut butter and honey

Chicken boats- cooked shredded chicken on a leaf of lettuce with a strip of carrot and a small piece of cheese

Homemade wheat bread with butter and honey

Homemade beef jerky

apples with yogurt and peanut butter dip (half and half)

trail mixes- nuts seeds fruits

a bowl of high fiber cereal and milk

popcorn with different flavorings- butter, chili cheese(chili powder and parm cheese), kettle (pop in oil and sugar), or homemade popcorn balls

*I have 5 boys and 1 girl.
2 boys are teens and one preteen!
I fix 3 meals a day and have two to three snack times a day, but at least two.
You're going to have to go beyond cereal bars. You need to look up one of those recipies for oatmeal bars that are packed with things like dry milk and wheat germ. Seriously. My husband and all of his brothers eat like there's no tomorrow. Don't serve them less than 3 sandwiches each. Seriously. Or just use him for leftover control :-)
My eight year old boy is beginning to eat me out of house and home...so I am in the same place.
Wow, lots of ideas so far! Thanks, ladies! He is tired of nuts and we have gone the bean route, so more variety is good so that he doesn't tire of beans as well. There are lots of ideas here I had not considered. Thanks!
I 2nd or 3rd the homemade granola bar idea...we save all the dregs from cereal boxes and use Tawra's granola bar recipe as a guide and make dense granola bars. Add protein powder, wheat germ or bran, oatmeal etc... and then cut them big :D

My son will be 12 next week and he goes through eating spurts.
Every snack should have protein with it. PB + fruit/vegetable works really well. You might also try hummus or yogurt instead of peanut butter.
I won't add snack ideas (previous ideas sound great!) but I will say... encourage him to drink a lot of water. Many times we mistake thirst for hunger. And kids (adults, too) tend to "forget" to drink up.
My son is almost 9 and has been eating like a horse the last couple months. I don't have any secrets. I use the Grocery Game to save money. I try to get them to snack on fruit and vegetables mainly. I don't know how filling they are but they sure are healthy and yummy.
Can't beat pretzels for frugal! I buy a big bag at Costco- dipping in PB or hummus or cream cheese with added flavorings.
Thanks for stopping by my blog to see my April Menu Plan. I have 3 boys, 17, 15 and 11! So, we go thru lots and lots of food. I do really well on our weekly dinner budget, usually under $40, but all of other food is a lot. I usually have fruit, peanuts and I always bake something. I know it's not the healthiest, but I do have chips and snacky food like that. They also eat popcorn quite a bit.
Stay away from cereal and granola bars that are loaded with sugar and "bad" carbs--they'll actually make him hungrier. Go for protein. My son's favorites are yogurt covered raisins, tortillas with peanut butter, raisins, and cinnamon, and cheese and crackers. Yogurts are quick and easy too. He could try some protein shakes made with whey protein and fruit and enjoy making his own creations, even adding things like frozen juice concentrate, peanut butter, whatever his imagination can come up with. He used to love nuts and trail mix before braces. Popcorn can also be filling and very cheap.

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