Kids eating you out of house and home this summer? If you feel like you're struggling to feed an army of kids at your house, we're here to help! We've got plenty of ideas of how to keep kids fed this summer without blowing your food budget.
If you had a dollar for every time your kids said, “Mom, I'm hungry!”, or you caught them foraging through the pantry this summer, how much would you have? Probably enough to fund a whole snack fund, right?! Summer time means fun and relaxation, but it also usually means ravenous kids and endless trips to the grocery store.
Side note – by popular demand, I just added an ebook to my website for purchase, called “Game Changing Snack Systems for Families.” If that sounds like something you're interested in, find it here!
*Note: When you click the links in this post, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.
If you're trying to stick to a budget AND feed and entertain your kids and their friends (who have all turned into bottomless pits), we've put together a list of summer snacks for kids to help you out! It is possible to be the fun house without breaking the bank!
Set Yourself Up For Success
We love when our house becomes the hang-out spot for friends. Seeing a collection of bikes on the front lawn or shoes by the front door is a sign that all are welcome here! It allows you to get to know friends and stay involved, especially as kids get older.
However, it also means lots of hungry bellies ready to raid your refrigerator…especially as they become tweens and teens! Being the “fun house” usually also means supplying a steady stream of munchies, which can really wreak havoc on the monthly grocery bill.
Tips To Keep Costs Low While Keeping Kids Happy:
- Go homemade as often as you can. More time consuming? Yes. But it allows you to buy raw ingredients in bulk and avoid the convenience costs of prepackaged stuff, as well as any additives you don't want in your food. Plus, this is a great way to involve your kids and teach them some food prep skills! It never hurts to have them earn their own snacks by putting in a little work to make them.
- Set out available snacks and put away the rest. Want the kids to focus on certain, less expensive snacks? Make them the most accessible. Fill baggies with pre-prepped foods and place them in places easy for kids to see and grab, like a basket on the counter or a certain eye-level shelf in the refrigerator. They'll know those are the ones they can go for while leaving the rest of the food alone.
- Ask for contributions. This is especially useful with older kids/teens. Do they want to host a movie or game night at your house? Great! Ask guests in advance if they can contribute a dollar or two for pizza, or if they can bring a bag of chips or a box of popsicles to share. If not, all are still welcome of course, but it never hurts to ask for some help if hungry teens are crashing at your place every weekend.
- Don't be afraid to set limits. If reasonable snacks and treats have already been provided and kids are still asking for more, it's ok to say, “that's all we have for today!” Similarly, there's no shame in not providing any snacks at all. It's totally acceptable to say, “We don't have any snacks planned for this afternoon, but we're going to have fun with some games!”
Healthy Summer Snacks For Kids
Want to know a secret for less snacking? Provide balanced, healthy snacks! When kids have balanced snacks with protein, fats, and complex carbs, their nutritional needs are met and tummies stay full longer, which requires less snacking! Win!
Here are some of our favorite healthy kid-friendly AND budget-friendly snacks:
- Celery sticks with nut butter. Add raisins on top to make “ants on a log”.
- Fruit smoothies. These make-ahead frozen smoothie packs make prep a breeze! It's a great way to use up produce and make sure nothing goes to waste, stretching those dollars. Blend up a batch and divide into smaller disposable cups for kids.
- Fresh fruit. Summer is the perfect time to take advantage of seasonal deals on fresh fruit! Create platters, bowls, or skewers for the kids to enjoy.
- Applesauce. Make your own with this slow cooker recipe and save on the pre-packaged stuff at the grocery store!
- Hard-boiled eggs. Or try these deviled eggs if you're feeling fancy.
- Air-popped popcorn. Make it fun with different types of toppings and mix-ins!
- Veggies and hummus. Make your own hummus and save some pennies! We love these different hummus recipe options from Live Eat Learn.
- Chips and salsa. Ok, chips might not always be the healthiest option in excess, but this fresh homemade salsa is packed with veggies and is cheap and easy to make!
- Fruit leather. Another great way to use up produce before it goes bad! Check out this easy homemade recipe.
- Homemade popsicles. All you need is a popsicle mold and these delicious recipes!
Homemade Baked Goods That Kids Will Love
Who doesn't love a warm, comforting cookie or muffin? Kids go nuts for fresh baked goods, but heading to an actual boutique bakery to satisfy that craving adds up! Instead, bake some of these treats at home to keep on hand for hungry kiddos. These can be made in advance and frozen for later, making it easy to take out and thaw any time.
Plus, most of these are so easy to make that kids can make them with minimal help or supervision. It would be a great way to keep older kids busy on those days where you have some time to kill. Win-win!
Some of our favorite budget-friendly baked treats are:
- Muffins! We've got recipes for blueberry, pumpkin chocolate chip, and peach! Whip up a batch, put them in a zipper freezer bag once cool, and freeze for later. Take out individual muffins and microwave for about 30 seconds whenever a snack attack hits!
- Cake mix cookies. What's that? Cake mix cookies?! Yes! Boxed cake mix is super cheap and super easy to use as a cookie mix. Check out these homemade oreos, lemon cake mix cookies, or birthday cake cookies for inspiration.
- Banana bread. Kids (and grown-ups!) can't resist this amazing homemade banana bread recipe!
Well Freebs, we hope this has given you a start for ways to think of feeding a small crowd without spending a ton of money! Summer snacks for kids can be fun, easy, and economical!
We'd love to hear from you! What are your favorite summer snacks for your kids? Do you involve them in the process? Share your tips and questions with us in the comments.
If you need more help with feeding the masses, check out these posts:
- These inexpensive meals for large groups will keep your guests and your wallet happy!
- Have a birthday party to plan? Check out these tips for keeping it fun but also frugal!
- Check out these hacks for snacks, chores, reading, and more for a fun and productive summer!