Food Money Saving Tips

How to Hunt Down Cheap Snacks

How to Hunt Down Cheap Snacks
Written by Oana Schneider

What’s your favorite snack? How much do people actually spend to buy snacks when lounging at home, sending their kids to school or going on long road trips? Snacks may not sound like an important meal of the day so you won’t have to spend so much for it.

But when you go to the grocery store or when you’re going on a binge-watching streak of your favorite TV series or movie franchise, you will actually spend a significant amount on snacks alone. So what can you do to cut back on your snacks budget? Here, we will take a look at the ways that you can hunt down the cheapest snacks.

How Much Do People Actually Spend on Snacks?

First, take a look at a few statistics related to the snacking behavior of people in the United States. For 2013, according to Statista.com, the dollar share of salty snacks in convenience stores are:

  • Potato chips = 26.3%
  • Tortilla/corn chips = 17%
  • Nuts/seeds = 13.6%
  • Puffed cheese = 7.6%
  • Crackers = 5.7%
  • Mixed = 5.6%
  • Pretzels = 4.5%
  • Popcorn (ready-to-eat) = 4%
  • Other salty snacks = 15.7%

If a bag of potato chips costs anywhere from $2 to $10 each depending on the flavor, brand and size, storing ten bags per month will cost you as much as $100. Those who are living on a paycheck-to-paycheck basis may not necessarily have such an amount to spare, so what can they do to save money without scrimping on snacks? Find out in the next section.  

Top 15 Ways to Hunt Down the Cheapest Snacks

Take a look at our list of the top tips on how to hunt down the cheapest snacks, or save money when stocking up on them:

1. Save money on school snacks

There are some snacks which you know are not necessarily healthy for your kids, but you end up giving it to them anyway simply because they like it. To create that delicate balance between giving your kids what they want while still making sure that they don’t have an all-junk-food diet, you can make your own school snacks. The bonus is that you can save money at the same time.

To save money on school snacks, plan out what you are going to put in their lunch boxes for a week. If there’s junk food in there, make sure that there is also a piece of fruit and a healthy sandwich or homemade dish. Getting the kids involved in the planning will also save you money.  During the weekend, make sugar-free brownies with the kids or something else that they can take to school.  

How to Hunt Down Cheap Snacks

Pack Your Lunch for School and Work!

2. Make your own snacks

Next, making your own snacks instead of buying pre-packaged items will save you a lot of money. Popcorn, for example, costs quite a lot when bought cooked and pre-packaged, as compared to the raw or microwavable variant. If your kid wants popcorn as part of his or her school snacks, purchase the corn kernels and pop them in the oven the morning that you need them.

If you’re serving pancakes for breakfast, freeze some and include as part of your kid’s lunch pack. There are also a lot of other pre-packaged snacks that kids love which you can actually make a healthier version of – without having to spend so much.    

3. Make your own trail mix

Again, anything that’s pre-packaged can basically be made at home and for a cheaper price. Trail mixes are actually healthy snacks to munch on – a bag containing a couple of tablespoons would do. Walnuts, nuts, almonds, cashews, dried fruit, raisins and sunflower seeds can be bought at dollar stores or in bulk for a cheaper price. Then, they can be mixed together so that you can have delicious and healthy items to munch on.

4. Purchase fruit in bulk

Next, buy whichever fruits are in season and do it by the bag or in bulk. In-season fruits have the best flavor, nutritional value and their price is the lowest. You can consume the fruits fresh, process them by drying or turning into sweets or candies – and you’ll have plenty of food items to include in your snacks list.

5. Mix it up

If you have a school age kid, remember that they need variety with their snacks as well. When you already have sandwiches, juice boxes, chips and fruits on rotation, they will eventually be boring on the taste buds of your little tykes so vary it up.

You can include the food items that you consume daily at home including fruits, vegetable sticks, cheese, yogurt, even crackers. The bonus is that no food will end up getting wasted because the menu is pretty varied.

6. When shopping for snacks, make a list

This rule applies to all your buying trips: shop with the blinders on. Focus on your goal, be it filling up your kitchen pantry with supplies, buying just one pair of shoes or a dress for a party. When shopping for snacks, make a list so that you will not be tempted to impulse buy. Never go grocery or snacks shopping while hungry because you are bound to overbuy.

7. Clip coupons to save money when buying snacks

Of course, you can always rely on coupons to save big when buying snacks. Go online and look for coupons which are specifically for your kids’ favorite snack items. You can also take the traditional route of looking for coupons from magazines, which can serve as your discount card when shopping at grocery stores.

8. Prolong the life of already opened snack bags

Wasted snacks equals wasted money, so prolong the life of your already opened snack bags. Instead of throwing away leftover potato chips, place them in the freezer after sealing or clipping the bag shut. The chips will not go soggy or wilt, so you can go back to snacking on them whenever you feel like it.

9. Purchase goodies at the dollar store

How to Hunt Down Cheap Snacks

Purchase Inexpensive Snacks!

Dollar stores are a haven of cheap prizes for almost anything, and snacks are no exception. You can buy cheap bags of potato chips, crackers, pretzels, dips, salsa, dried fruits, trail mix, sunflower seeds, raisins, etc. You can stock up on these and divide the items that you love in smaller snack packs that you can munch on, or have the kids bring to school. 

10. Turn leftover cereal into snacks that the kids will love

If you have almost-empty boxes of cereal, mix them all together to avoid wastage. Melt marshmallows or chocolates and put together the cereals so they form small squares. You can also include dried fruits to make the snacks healthier.

11. Place cartoon character stickers on cereal and snacks boxes

If you’re a frustrated parent who is shopping on a budget, you surely would have experienced times when your kid points to a box of cereal which has huge cartoon characters on the package. There’s no harm in buying these, but they do cost almost twice as much or even more than the regular brands.

To make snacks and other food items more attractive to kids, purchase stickers in bulk, then stick them on the cheapest boxes or bags of snacks that you can find.

12. Stop buying candy from vending machines or gasoline stations

Even if you’re going on a road trip, you shouldn’t buy snacks from vending machines or gasoline stations where it’s more convenient. The prices of goods on these establishments are much higher than in dollar stores or superstores.

Even if you’re on the road, you can just as easily stop by the bigger stores and stock up on food supplies for a much lower price than taking the easy way out by checking what snacks gas stations or vending machines have to offer.

13. Purchase snacks wholesale

As with any other goods, you can purchase snacks on a wholesale basis or in bulk at a much cheaper price. Ask if you can combine coupon codes with bulk discounts.

14. Scope for cheap snacks from farmer’s markets

Aside from fresh produce, there are also home baked food items and other delicious goodies which make for excellent snacks at farmer’s markets. Purchase these so that you can stock up on cheap, healthy and filling snacks.

15. Freeze your own popsicles

Popsicles make for great snacks, especially during the summer months. But instead of buying ones in plastic cases which are chockfull of sugar, simply make your own popsicles. Freeze 100% juice on popsicle trays. Ice cube trays with small plastic spoons as handles can also be used if you don’t have specialized popsicle trays.

As you can see, there are plenty of things that you can do in order to hunt down the cheapest snacks. By knowing what you like and where to find the cheap stuff, you can do as much snacking as you want without having to spend so much.

About the author

Oana Schneider

Oana Schneider is a published author located in Chicago, Illinois, who currently works for DontPayFull.com as a communication specialist and blog editor. She writes about lifestyle, family budget, has a degree in Communications and advocates for women’s rights. Her future plans include getting a Labrador and losing a few pounds.

5 Comments

  • Since last year I’ve been purchasing all of my snacks wholesale from the different Asian stores in my area. I’m not Asian myself but there are some foreign brands that are considerably cheaper and are packaged in bulk in these shops. One bulk of those butterscotch biscuits in a tin can for example nets me four tins for the price of one in a supermarket. Don’t be intimidated by foreign brands, just be cautious when trying out stuff. You never know, you could find a great snack that’s cheap as well.

  • First of all, I should say that you should never, ever go to the store when you’re already hungry. If you do this, then every single snack will jump out at you and you’ll end up buying more than you can cope with. A lot of food can get thrown away when you do this, which is a shame. The point that I like the most here is to buy wholesale. If you know that you eat a lot of a certain food, and wish to carry on doing so, then it makes no sense at all to buy them from the store when the mark up on them is huge. If you just make the effort to find things elsewhere in bigger batches, you will be able to save a lot more money.

  • I find the best way to control snacking, and therefore buying snacks, is to control your food intake.
    Think of it as budgeting with food, plan your meals and snacks in advance and stick to your plan.
    Being hungry isn’t the end of the world, and being able to control your hunger pangs is a good skill to possess. This will not only benefit your wallet; it will benefit your waistline.

  • “Instead of throwing away leftover potato chips, place them in the freezer after sealing or clipping the bag shut. ”

    Well, I don’t know anyone who ever threw away leftover potato chips — mostly because I don’t know anyone who ever HAS leftover potato chips! If I have “old” chips, I still just eat them, I really don’t have space in my freezer for a quarter bag of chips (also, it would probably end up being crushed by someone forcing the tube of ice cream back in)

    But I love the “put stickers on cheap snacks” advice. It drives me crazy whenever the kids point at the most expensive for a small box with few things in it just because Dora is on it! >__< The only solution to this is to not shop with the kids, really.

  • I tend to buy stuff on sale but even if I stop eating it I just fold the bag of chips up and save it for another time which seems like a good idea. I am not one for tossing it away if I don’t have to. And I mean it gets eaten over storm days and weekends anyways.

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