Treats are a big part of our American diet, especially if you have kids. So, it’s beneficial to learn how to save money when buying treats. It can really save you a lot of money on your grocery bill.
Choose Healthier Treats
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You often hear that healthier treats are more expensive, but that’s not usually true. There are a lot of healthy snack choices available. I give you some options in my Grocery Shopping for Fruits and Vegetables post and my Heart Healthy Snack Ideas post. Fruits and vegetables are inexpensive, especially when you purchase them when they’re on sale. A 2 pound bag of carrots isn’t much over $1, and I can make lots of carrot sticks from that. You can pair them with low-fat dressing, which also goes on sale for about $1.
Other good snack options are pretzels, popcorn kernels or ready to make/eat popcorn , crackers, or rice cakes. Pretzels are already priced pretty inexpensively, and all the other items go on sale often. When you also use coupons on your purchase, you can get them at a great price. Popcorn kernels are already really inexpensive, and the bagged popcorn will go on sale periodically. Crackers are usually on sale for $1.69 and when there’s a coupon for $1.00 off 2, that means each box of crackers is only $1.19 each. Rice cakes usually go on sale for $0.99. You can also buy many of these items at a wholesale club or on Amazon, where you can get free shipping if you Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial.
Make Your Own Treats
It’s cheaper, and healthier to make your own cookies, brownies, ice pops, popsicles, or smoothies. You can make them from scratch or from a mix. The baking mixes go on sale, usually for $0.99. I recently made my oldest son a birthday cake for only $2, because the frosting was also on sale for $0.99. My youngest son and I decorated it. My kids like the flavor of the homemade cake, and it’s even more special because we made it ourselves for the other family member. You can also make your own cookie cakes by pressing a batch of cookie dough into a large cookie sheet with sides, and baking it. Then you can decorate it yourself with frosting. My youngest son was just saying we should make my husband one of those for Father’s Day. It’s much cheaper than buying one already made from the store. If you prefer an ice cream pie, you can make your own graham cracker crust, put softened ice cream in it, and decorate it with whatever toppings you want. This will cost you $4 or less, and a store bought one would cost you at least $10 – $15; even more if you buy it from an ice cream store.
This can also be something fun to do with your kids, especially now that summer is coming. I make cantaloupe pops and other fruit pops in the summer because the melons are on sale. There’s a really cute Sesame Street cookbook that I like called, C is for Cooking, with lots of great recipes to make with your kids. Our favorite treat to make from there is an orange creme shake.
You can also make your own tortilla chips and pita chips. I have 2 different versions of pita chips that I like – cinnamon sugar and pita crisps. I also make my own hummus to go along with them. I found those recipes in The New American Heart Association Cookbook.
Compare Brand Names vs. Store Names
Store name crackers, pretzels, graham crackers, chips, vanilla wafers and cookies can be less than half the cost of the brand names. They taste really good too! The only store brand snack we didn’t like was vanilla wafers. So, we only buy the store brand version of those, but only when they’re on sale. I didn’t even notice Walmart’s brand crackers, but my dad saw them in the store one day and bought me a couple flavors he thought I would like. They were actually really good! When the brand name crackers go on sale, and I can combine the sale with a coupon, I will buy the name brand because with that combination of deals, they’re lower than the store brand. I always buy store brand pretzels and graham crackers because their name brands don’t usually go on sale. I also usually buy the store brand chips, because they even recently came out with a low sodium version. So, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on prices. Just make sure to compare the unit prices of the name brand vs. store brand, to make sure you’re really getting a deal. I talk about how to do that in my How To Compare Grocery Store Prices post.
Don’t Buy the 100-Calorie Packs
I know it’s tempting because they’re just the right size and they’re convenient, but they are much more expensive! It can cost 4 times as much! You can buy a regular box of crackers, pretzels, chips, etc. and portion out the amount yourself. You can make enough for the whole week in a short amount of time. Just look at the nutrition label like I talk about in my post, How to Read and Understand Food Nutrition Labels, and portion out the appropriate serving size in either a plastic bag, reusable bag, or container. I like these really cute reusable snack bags from the 19elephants shop on Etsy. There’s lots of cute designs for kids and adults. I also bring Rubbermaid snack containers with me when I sub to hold my snacks and chips.
Save on Beverages
Cutting down on the amount of sodas and juice that you drink is a good way to save money on beverages, and better for your health too. However, we still drink soda once a week and 100% fruit juice every morning, but I only buy them when they’re on sale. Sodas are also cheaper when you buy a 2-liter bottle of soda, rather than the cans. My mom likes to drink coke, so when the 2-liter bottles go on sale, they stock up.
100% fruit juice goes on sale often and I take advantage of the Walmart Savings Catcher to catch those sales. If there aren’t sales on juice, then the frozen concentrate is the most cost effective choice. It doesn’t take very long to make and your kids can even help stir it. I also drink Gatorade every night, since I walk so much, and I was recently able to buy it for only $0.59 for 12 of them. They’re normally at least $1.00 each.
My oldest son and I like to have a powdered drink mix with our lunch, rather than just water. I buy the sugar-free version, and making it myself is much cheaper than buying it already made. There are a lot of great powdered mix varieties to choose from. They even have mixes for iced tea.
It’s also much cheaper to just drink tap/filtered water from home, rather than buying water bottles. My daughter and I have a really neat pink reusable water bottle that we bring with us to school/work, and it even has it’s own ice pack inside. We found it at Walmart. My youngest son brings character cups with water in them to school. We found those at Walmart too. My oldest son brings a metal water bottle we found awhile back, but I don’t remember where.
It’s great to know there are so many ways to save on treats, including healthy ones! You just need to look for sales, make some items yourself, be willing to buy store brands, and use reusable items to help you save as much as you can on your grocery bill.
****I learned a lot of my information from The Coupon Mom.
I hope you learned a lot too, and it would be great if you would share this post with your friends and social media audience.
Do you have any tips on how you save money on treats?