Frugal snacks to avoid mid-day cravings

by Karen on January 8, 2009


photo by
JenWaller

As I try to eat healthier, one of the biggest challenges for me is the office break room. Whether it’s a birthday cake, baked goods from a generous colleague, or treats from grateful clients, there is always something to munch on, and it’s seldom healthy.

Frugality and weight management go hand in hand. Unhealthy snacks are generally a drain on the grocery budget anyway, so I never have them around the house. Unfortunately, I can’t control what comes into the office break room.

In the office, I’m particularly vulnerable to succumbing to temptation. As the afternoon drags on, not only do I feel the urge to get up from my desk and do something to give my eyes a break from the computer screen (like snack), but I also feel increasingly hungry now that I’m eating smaller portions.

Two years ago when I lost 40 pounds, I ate six times a day — three small meals and three healthy snacks. Eating small portions frequently not only increases metabolism, but also helps me to avoid the temptation of unhealthy snacks — if I’ve never hungry, I’m not as tempted to eat unhealthy foods.

Unfortunately, adding snacks to my grocery list — even healthy snacks — will mean higher food costs, especially since we’ve cut virtually all extra snack foods from the budget to maintain lower food costs.

I wanted to avoid the extra cost, but now that I’m working out right after work and eating smaller portions, it’s a struggle to make it from breakfast to lunch and lunch to dinner without eating something in between. If I don’t plan ahead and bring healthy snacks, I’m more likely to eat the cakes and chocolates around the office.

Two years ago I filled my cart with pricey convenience foods, like those delicious (and expensive) 100 calorie packs and granola bars. Now that I’m living frugally, I can’t see paying that kind of money for convenience. Even non-convenience foods like fresh fruits and nuts are too expensive.

I spent some time brainstorming for snack ideas that won’t cost a fortune. Here are some of the options I’m considering:

  • Apple slices with peanut butter
  • A slice of bread with a tablespoon of peanut butter
  • Homemade granola with yogurt
  • Homemade apple sauce
  • Raisins
  • Fresh vegetables (purchased on sale)

Can anyone give me any good ideas for frugal healthy snack foods?

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{ 7 comments }

1 tiffanie January 8, 2009 at 11:35 am

what about pretzels? i like to buy a big family bag and portion them out into small snack sized ziplock baggies. or buy a big container of raisins and store brand peanuts (usually about $2 per jar here) and make up a mock trail mix in small baggies. those are some of my cheapo fall back items.

tiffanie’s last blog post..guest post: what your bank doesn’t want you to know

2 anne January 8, 2009 at 12:33 pm

I also try to eat five small meals a day with a workout around 5pm. I eat breakfast around 7:30am, snack around 10am, lunch at noon, a snack at 3:30 or 4, then dinner around 7pm. Here are a few frugal snack ideas:
- pretzels (mentioned above) with a tsp of peanut butter
- carrot sticks (not baby carrots – the 2lb bags of carrots chopped at home are more economical in the long run)
- raw almonds (not salted or roasted) I only eat 12 to 15/ day so a 1lb bag lasts a while
- fresh fruit (whatever is on sale or seasonal)

3 Carla January 8, 2009 at 1:29 pm

I second the pretzel idea. What about baggies of cereal? I use this for the kids but it would work for adults too if you chose high fiber, low cal cereals. Also, maybe string cheese or cheese cubes.

Carla’s last blog post..Feeling

4 courtneyryan January 8, 2009 at 1:55 pm

I love the little baggies too. I buy a bag of whatever and they make my own 100 cal packs. Its usually just a slightly smaller portion.

The other thing I like to do is take no fat yogurt, put it in a small dish, and then add granola/ teddy grams/Cherrios to it for added crunch/filling/fiber.

courtneyryan’s last blog post..Well, it’s going…

5 Abigail January 8, 2009 at 2:36 pm

Depending on your version of “frugal” I do like GNCs powdered energy drinks. They’re about $30 (we get them on sale, buy one, get one half off) but you get more than 30 drinks from each one.

Otherwise, I like yogurt itself as a snack. Yoplait is good. But I find that a creamier kind with, say, two grams of fat lasts longer (twice as many calories, a “whopping” 200) and has a much fuller taste.

If PB with bread sounds too dry, sometimes I just make myself a one-slice PBJ. Cut the slice in half and you’ve taken out 90-110 calories (depending on the bread). You get the quick sugar from the jelly and the longer-lasting stuff from the peanut butter.

Abigail’s last blog post..Another sale of interest

6 momstheword January 8, 2009 at 9:05 pm

I only buy grapes when they are .99 a pound, so we will snack on those. I also buy salt-free or no salt peanuts. Yes, a little more expensive but I get the cheapest brand, and it’s a fast and easy snack that will save me money (and gaining weight) in the long run.

Carrots are great, celery with peanut butter. Some people like rice snacks. Popcorn is great too. You may make airpopped or whatever and just take it in a sandwich bag.

momstheword’s last blog post..DO YOU HEART CHARTS, FORMS OR SCHEDULES?

7 FFB January 9, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Bananas are great. Craisins. Granola bars; you can buy them in bulk at a BJ’s type place. Nuts. A PB&J sandwich; cut it in half and you have two snacks. Water; dink throughout the day and when you’re hungry.

Eating at work is always tough for me. The choices are out there but I don’t always want to go any further than the vending machine.

FFB’s last blog post..Obama 2009 Economic Stimulus Plan – It’s Gonna Be Big!

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