Kid Snacks & Lunch system! Ideas, hacks, tips, & how we do it! (…And not go broke over snacks)

The other day on Instagram I gave you a glimpse of our snack drawer, and briefly mentioned our lunch system, not thinking much about it. BOY OH BOY did you want to know more! I became flooded with questions about how we do snacks, how we save money with snacks, how we don't get eaten out of house and home, where we buy our snacks, whether or not bringing school lunch from home is actually cheaper, and on and on and on. I grabbed my camera on the spot, and did a thorough video that covers AAAAALLLLLLL your questions! We even cover what to do when dairy-free or gluten-free snacks are needed!

Be sure to subscribe to my channel, I post live Q&A videos every Tuesday and uploaded videos every Thursday. If you aren't subscribed, you're missing out on loads of fun!

Then watch the video on YouTube here, or click and watch below:

There you go! Not too crazy, right?

If you feel like you are spending all your grocery money on snacks and lunches, try a few of these tips and I have no doubt they will cut down on the bill DRASTICALLY. Here is more info, and products I said I'd link in the video:

SNACK AND LUNCH LIFE-SAVERS:

  • I forgot to mention this in the video, but we use bathroom-sized Dixie cups for portioning out crackers and bulk snack items to eat at home.
  • Cereal containers: Keeps cereal fresher longer, keeps them stored nicely in your pantry, and helps kids pour without spilling!
  • Food thermos: I can't find those Contigo ones, but this is a close second I found on Amazon.
  • Condiment cups: I bought a GINORMOUS pack of these at Costco (basically a lifetime supply) but you can buy them in the paper goods aisle of almost any grocery store, or on Amazon here.
  • Lunch bag: I like having loads of extras on-hand, and they don't have to cost a lot! Walmart and Target have good options, as well as Amazon. Look at this cute one I found for less than $10!
  • Costco plastic cutlery is THE BEST!
  • Reminder to sign up for and use Ebates ANY TIME you shop online so you get cash back for your purchases!!
  • See my FOOD playlist for loads of additional shopping, food, and cooking tips!

Now, let's summarize what we covered in the video:

How we do kid snacks:

  • Can't snack within 30-45 minutes of a meal (depending upon age)
  • If it's in a wrapper, it's for lunch – NOT at home!
  • They must start with the fridge drawer FIRST, then move to the pantry.
  • We often have the same snacks for lunches, but buy them in bulk (instead of individually packed packages) to eat at home.

How we do lunches:

  • Our kids pack school lunch 4 days per week, and get hot lunch one day per week (of their choice).
  • They draw from our “take 2” (fruit/healthy) basket, “take 1” (cracker/chip/granola bar) basket, and “take 1” (treat/sweet) basket. They also get 2 items from the fridge/freezer, and one sandwich or entree.
  • Water bottle with lunch, juice is only for road trips and soccer/sport snacks.

How we do meals:

  • We only serve them up an amount we KNOW they can eat.
  • We put one bit of everything on their plate, even if we know they don't like it or will fight us on it.
  • They have to take one “polite bite” of everything on their plate, but otherwise can choose if they want to eat it all or not.
  • If they eat everything on their plate, they qualify for desert, which is sometimes as simple as a single Oreo or a few jelly beans. We don't go crazy with dessert.
  • If they choose not to eat everything on their plate that is just fine, they just don't get dessert. They also don't get snacks before bed. If they are hungry before bed, we will re-heat their plate for them, or they can wait until breakfast.
  • Water is served with meals. Milk and juice can come AFTER they've eaten a good meal.
  • Again, no snacks within 30-45 minutes of a meal, to ensure they are nice and hungry.
  • We do hot breakfast, no cereal (since they are hungry 30 seconds after eating cereal!).

There you go!

How do you do lunch and snacks? Do you use any of these same methods? Hopefully this was helpful in some way or another! Now, get out there and create a good lunch system for yourself and enjoy saving SO. MUCH. MONEY!!

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. What make/model of vacuum is that in the video? I am looking to buy a cordless vacuum like that and am weighing my options. Have you liked it? Any major pros or cons?

  2. We have 6 children; ages 18-8 years old. We have instilled the same core snack and lunch techniques you use with your children. You are absolutely right about teaching your kids to eat healthy foods when younger. They will crave fruits and healthier snacks when older rather than empty calories.
    I received the sweetest text message from my college age daughter her first semester of school. She thanked her father and I for feeding her so well while living at home and for all the fresh produce we always have in the kitchen. Childhood habits carry on throughout their lives.

  3. Sorry if this has been covered before but I am new to funcheaporfree. What in the world are those refrigerated drawers and where do I get some?

  4. We use a similar system, but made some recent changes after we pulled the kids out of public school and home for online free public education. My house is NOT nearly as big as yours and I don’t have the fancy drawer. Here’s what we do.

    1: Fridge
    Small fridge bins with Label Once rewritable lables on the bottom shelf. They are typically divided like this: fruit, drinks (orgain protein drinks or occasional honest juice), and a few snack bins with things like applesauce, yogurt, cheese sticks or slices, carrots, hard boiled eggs, hummus. Sometimes I will also add small sandwiches in the fridge in wax paper, bags, etc.

    2: CONVENIENCE: I’m pregnant so started forgoing some money saving things in favor of convenience such as raisin boxes or cranberry boxes and pre packaged granola bars. To each their own on this one! You can pre package them on the weekend in honeybee cloths, silicone cups, tupperware, or disposable bags or containers. We still usually use rewash able and reusable containers and cutlery, but kids have their own cheap cutlery.

    3:ACCESIBILITY: I have a quart size glass container for kids milk, so they don’t spill larger containers. I moved the beverages they would need to the lower shelf in fridges and taught them some basics like sandwich making and toast and cereal. There are sterility foldable stools for microwave access, sink, and higher fridge shelves.

    4: ORGANIZE: Use sock drawer organizers in the pantry for bars! We have multiple protein bars, fruit leathers, granola, nut bars, etc. Pregnant and nursing mama needs them too! I have small plastic organizer bins with chalkboard labels for snack categories such as TRAIL MIX AND NUTS, DRIED FRUIT, CRACKERS. IKEA slim containers for the cereals, and mason jars for premade snacks like steel cut oats in 4 oz jars or chia puddings.

    5: SWEETS AND JUNK: Cookies and sweet snacks are on the top shelf of pantry and OFF LIMITS. I keep organic lollipops and fruit snack there for special occasions like dentist appt or doctor or parties when they will be exposed to the artificially colored stuff. Ice cream in fridge is also an ask mom thing.

    6: PURCHASING: We purchase mostly organic from Costco, and bulk subscribe and save from Amazon. We are in Limbo with Whole foods… Produce is usually from whole foods and some favorite snacks also from Trader Joes. I don’t have a lot of room (a few feet at bottom of pantry) for back stock in the freezer or pantry so I have to be choosy about the stocking up. Many times I stock up on Annies from Amazon S&S, Honest, and other organic snacks from Amazon.

    6: RULES: We follow similar rules but just recently ( last week) started allowance, so we will be docking them for things like throwing away a half container of yogurt or barely eaten apple.

  5. May I ask your lipstick color and brand? On top of this being an amazing snack video – it was also an amazing makeup video. Girl you look gorgeous!

  6. Are your older children allowed to help themselves to snacks whenever they feel hungry (if its outside the no snack window before meals)?

    It looks like you have sandwiches in the fridge drawer– don’t those get soggy?

    Thank you for all the amazing tips!!

  7. We just don’t do snacks…like at all. I found that after about the age of 3, snacking tended to inhibit their appetites in general AND they also began playing with their food more. If I happen to notice they’re eating more at regular meals due to a growth spurt, then I by all means let them have fresh fruits between meals, but that’s it. No system needed on that one. I was raised old-school and we rarely snacked between meals.

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