• Frugal Living,  Parenting

    Frugal snacks for hungry kids

    One of the best things about living in a small town like Pleasant Point, is that it’s so easy to get together with friends.  Everywhere is a 5 -10 minute walk away, and the roads are safe enough for older children to bike or walk on their own.

    After school and at weekends our house is usually overflowing with children, as our kids play with their friends from school or church.

    I love it.

    When we had children, I said to Mr G that I wanted an open house when our children’s friends felt welcome – just like my family house was when I was growing up.

    Well, we’ve definitely got that sort of house!

    All those children (it’s not unusual for us to have five or more) mean there’s extra bellies to fill, and that can really take a chunk out of your budget if you’re not careful.  I do a lot of baking, and that helps to cut costs down considerably.

     

    Here are my go-to snacks for feeding a tribe of ravenous children on a budget:

    • Some genius came up with the 100 biscuit recipe (cookies, for my American readers) which you can find here.  It makes a large bowl of biscuit dough to which you can then add whatever you like.  I use chocolate chips, sprinkles (aka hundreds and thousands/nonpareils), cocoa and cornflakes, raisins, lemon zest, m&m’s etc.  It tends to be whatever I have lying around!  The dough freezes well, so you can make a huge batch of basic dough, divide it into whatever flavours you want to add, and pop some in the freezer for another day.  Biscuits obviously aren’t the healthiest choice, but for an active child, one or two with their afternoon tea won’t hurt them.  This recipe really does make 100.  Because the mixture spreads out a lot while cooking, a teaspoon of mixture is all that’s needed per biscuit.
    100 biscuits may still not last long…
    • Popcorn.  We have one of those air popper machine thingees, and a little goes a long, long way.  I can get a big bowl of popcorn for about 25 cents.  I’ve never met a child who doesn’t go crazy for popcorn.

     

    • Tiny cheese muffins.  I use a recipe from New Zealand’s famous Edmond’s Cookbook, but there is a similar recipe over at Just A Mum.  I use tasty cheese because a little goes a long way when it comes to flavour.  I use the same when I make…

     

    • Cheese scones.  My kids go nuts for scones.  I have made scones so many times I have the recipe committed to memory, and I can churn out a batch in 15 minutes.

     

    • Seasonal fruit.  My daughter eats a lot of fruit.  My son is picky about which kind of fruit he likes, but even he will chow down on anything when he’s got to fight four of his friends for the last slice of apple.  Peer pressure can be a good thing!  I’ve also found that children will eat pretty much anything if it’s put into a cool shape or design.
    These ‘palm trees’ get gobbled up quickly!
    • Real fruit or juice popsicles.  If you have some juice leftover from a party, you can put into straight into popsicle moulds or blend berries with banana for a creamy, frozen treat.  Popsicle moulds cost about $2 at stores here in New Zealand, and are worth this very modest outlay, as one single popsicle can cost upwards from $2 at the shops.  Plus you can make yummy treats that are actually healthy too.

     

    • Carrot and cheese sticks (I go easy on the cheese, it’s so expensive these days).  My children turn up their nose at hummus, but I live for the day when they’ll embrace it like some of their friends do.

     

    • Pikelets.  If you don’t know what a pikelet is, it’s basically a small, sweet, fluffy pancake.  I don’t make these often, but pikelets are great if you have a big crowd of children.  A little jam on top of the pikelet = happy children.  Generally I put out a plate of pikelets, things quickly resembles a school of piranhas in a feeding frenzy.

     

    • Crackers.  I stash away boxes of ‘company’ crackers when they’re on special at the supermarket.

     

    Lastly, I find the key to feeding a gaggle of children is portion control.  If I leave them with a box of crackers it will be gone in 1 minute.  If I plate up a snack for each child, then I’m rarely eaten out of house and home, and the children still seem satisfied.

     

    What are your go-to snacks?