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Frugal Foodie: Afterschool Snacks better than Cookies and Milk

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Written by Heather Jones   
Monday, 20 September 2010

ImageYou made sure they had a new backpack, sneakers, lunch money, and a haircut before the first day back to school, but did you think about what you were going to give the little monsters to nosh on when they fly threw the door at 3pm making their way to your kitchen or office and asking you that infamous question: “Hey Mom what time is dinner ready, is there anything else to eat?” Or in my case, the five-year old kicks her sneakers off at the door, drops her backpack to the floor and says “Mommy, its snack time!”.

Growing up I always loved an after school snack. For me, it was usually graham crackers or fig newtons with milk, but nowadays we can do better than that.  There’s no reason to go dropping good money on processed sweets when you can make up so many fun, healthful, frugal, and delicious snacks at home. 


My hot air popcorn popper is probably my favorite appliance, next to the ice cream maker, and is a wonderful investment.  I paid about $20 bucks for mine and oftentimes you can even find them at yard sales.  The taste of fresh popped popcorn is much more flavorful than its microwave counterpart, and considerably less expensive.  A one pound jar of kernels can run you about $5, but yields over 100 cups of popcorn - you can’t beat that.

Popcorn can be enhanced with a myriad of different flavors, each child can have his/her own specialty flavor.  But probably my favorite thing to do with it is make popcorn balls.  This recipe below uses honey instead of sticky commercial marshmallows and is always a crowd pleaser.

Bite-size Honey Popcorn Balls

(Sunset, October, 2007)

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Trail Mix

Trail mix is the epitome of the modern after school snack.  A combination of dried fruits, nuts, grains, and even chocolate; it gives you that much needed protein boost to tide you over until dinner is on the table.  In many homes I’m sure you’ll find some sort of store bought variety, but again it’s cheaper the DIY (Do It Yourself) way and easy to customize if you have more than one child.

The way to get the most for your money when preparing to make your own is by going to your favorite store that sells nuts, and dried fruits in bulk and sold by the pound. For the cost of a box of pre-packaged trail mix you can make double the amount homemade.  Trail mix also has a good shelf life and if the kids get tired of it, you can take the leftovers and mix it with your favorite yogurt or pour it over hot cereal for breakfast.

Huckleberry Trail Mix

(Food Network Magazine, May, 2010)

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Cookie Bars

Cookies are still the number one after school snack and really who would disagree. Although in years past, it was mostly graham crackers and fig newtons for me, there were those rare occasions when a chocolate chip or peanut butter cookie appeared.  There really is nothing like a well made cookie, but these cookie bars have really caught my attention of late.  They offer the best of both worlds - granola bar meets chocolate chip cookie; healthy, chocolaty, and outstanding!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

(Sunset, November, 2003)

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So remember when its time to hit the grocery store think after-school snacks, and pick up a few of the ingredients to give these recipes a try.  What’s even better is that if you have older kids you can get them involved by having them make their own after-school snacks;  remember most kids will eat the food they prepared themselves even if it’s something they previously proclaimed to dislike. So jump in, and help your kids snack their way to a successful school year.


Last Updated ( Monday, 20 September 2010 )
"Big" little monsters
spm (Author) 2010-09-20 08:52:39

I wish these suggestions could satisfy my "big" little monster, but a growing 17-year-old boy requires another meal when he comes home from school. I'm fortunate that I can make him something most days. Otherwise I'm afraid he would turn to fast food and convenient sandwich shops. He needs additional protein, whole grains, and fruit during this time of the day. Often I make him a toasted whole wheat pita bread topped with cooked chicken and cheese.
Where is the recipe???
minnesota mamma (Unregistered) 2011-03-14 13:58:13

Loved the picture of the bars in the top but where is the recipe???
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