I should preface this article, by first admitting that I do believe in the power of the snack. Despite having the mantra, 'snacks will spoil your dinner' drummed in to me as a youngster, I am not a firm follower of the no snacks between meals ethos, so if snack time doesn't exist in your household, you might want to avert your eyes.
Supermarket snacks are getting so pricey
Whatever works for you, but this is unashamedly a quick read on handy snacks for your little ones; snacks that you can prepare from your pantry contents, rather than always having to pay over the odds for shop bought treats. Whilst toddler snacks from the shops are very convenient and I definitely rely on these from time to time, I'm appalled at how expensive they are, so I've started to think about what else I can prepare as a quick snack to keep hunger at bay throughout the day. As kids get bigger so does their capacity to eat more at the dinner table and reduce the need for snacks in the day. However, a toddler invariably due to smaller tummies, and possibly attention thresholds, can't eat as much at mealtimes, so to avoid hunger meltdowns in the day, a well timed snack can keep the peace and help keep them going until their next proper meal.
If you're looking for some inspiration, as I so often am when I go to the pantry, here's a quick list of popular snacks in my house for my little guys.
1) Fruit - ok, it's an obvious one. But you can also dress it up so that it's not just fruit on its own. My little guy loves apple slices topped with peanut butter, and grapes straight from the freezer on a hot day. Buy seasonally, and this can be quite a healthy and frugal snack.
2) Mini sandwiches. When I know that I am going to be out all day, or if I'm heading to a play date, I make up a quick batch of sandwiches that I can take with me, to provide a quick snack when on the go. Fillings vary dependant upon what's in the fridge, but these are easy peasy and very transferrable.
3) Cheese and crackers. Another portable snack, but also a great one if you are putting a platter together if you've got a bunch of kids over at yours for a play date. Bonus points for home made crackers which you can make easily if you've got cheese, flour and butter in your provisions. Cheese is a great source of protein that will help keep your little one full of energy.
4) Celery and ants. Ok, not ants exactly, but a fun and filling snack that's quick to create is a quarter stick of celery, filled with cream cheese and scattered with raisins (ants) on top. You can get your little ones to pretend that its ants on a log. They get gobbled up in no time.
5) Mini muffins. The basics of a muffin is generally flour, milk, butter and eggs, but the combinations of muffin flavours are endless, and they can be a great vehicle to sneak veggies into. For savoury, try cheese, capsicum, onion and carrot and for sweet, try chocolate chips or berries. The best thing about making muffins is that you can make a giant batch of multiple flavours and you can freeze them so that you always have a supply of snacks in your freezer. Great for picnics too.
6) Veggie sticks with dips. Crunchy vegetables make great portable snacks for toddlers. Great choices are carrot sticks, capsicum, cauliflower, brocolli and cucumber. Popular toddler dips include peanut butter (great for protein and fibre), cheese based dips, and guacamole This is another fabulous choice if you're entertaining and want to put out some healthy snacks for the kids.
7) Mini pizzas. If you include melted cheese in a snack in our house, it's an instant winner so easy home made pizza's are a great option. For a simple pizza base you can you use sliced bread, an english muffin, a crumpet, a pita bread or some turkish bread. You can cut out into rounds or even into fancy shapes if you've got some cookie cutters. Keep it simple and top with a ready made pizza sauce base and cheese and meat or vegetables. You can make a quick pizza sauce with canned tomatoes, herbs and tomato puree. This is a versatile snack that also eats well cold.
8) Popcorn. This high fibre treat need not be swimming in butter and fat. Instead, buy your own popping corn and either use a popping machine or pop your own in a saucepan. Deliciously crunchy all by itself with no need to add sugar and salts. Keeps very fresh in a ziplock bag so perfect for a day out.
9) Smoothies. You'll need a blender or similar device to make this one work - but essentially grab some milk, fruit and yogurt and blend away to create a filling and delicious drink treat for your toddler. A popular one in our house is banana, strawberry and blueberries, but flavours vary dependant upon what fruit is in season, or what berries have been on offer.
10) Frozen bananas. You'll need to plan ahead for this one, and it's worth doing so if you've got hot weather on the horizon. For this simple treat, grab a banana, dip up to about half way in yogurt and then roll in crushed cereals, or nuts and pop into the freezer. This will be ready to eat about 5 hours after you have frozen it. You can use a lollipop stick if you have them to hand, but this isn't mandatory.
What other tips do you have for cutting down the cost of toddler snack time? Do you have any frugal ideas that you use in your household?
Our 2 little grand-daughters love..thin rice crackers, & a little container of sultanas, sunflower seeds, almonds & walnuts, when they go out as well as fruit.
I do like the frozen grape idea. I hadnít heard of that 1 before. And if weíre out & about, & have forgotten to pack them a couple of little sandwiches, we buy them a vegetarian sushi roll, if we happen to be walking past a sushi shop..
Weíve never bought them a snack from a supermarket!