10 Frugal Fall Snacks for Hungry Kids (Recipe: Spiced Pear Cake)

It would seem that kids are always hungry: breakfast, 2nd breakfast, elevensies, luncheon…. Oh wait! Is that hobbits or kids?

Same thing, really.

While three (or more) good meals are a great base, a healthy afternoon snack can be just the ticket to help kids — and adults — make it through the 3:00 slump.

As our family moves away from a steady diet of processed foods toward more wholesome fare, I’ve been looking for ways to provide snacks without resorting to boxed crackers, gummies, and other pre-packaged foods. At the same time, I need to serve foods that won’t break the bank!

Can healthy eating be budget friendly? You betcha!

Happy Snackers

Check out these ten fall snacks that are mostly unprocessed, feature seasonal foods, and that won’t bust the budget.

1. Apple Dippers

Serve apple slices with a healthy dip like nut or seed butters or even a little maple whipped cream.

Apples are typically on sale this time of year, making for a very frugal snack. Buy apples that are firm and unblemished and store them in the refrigerator. Consider buying a big box if you have the storage space. Look for organic apples if you can since apples tend to hold onto the pesticides.

Any way you slice ‘em, kids will gobble up them apples.

2. Ants on a Log

My kids love this snack of celery spread with sunbutter (or nut butter if you don’t have any allergies to contend with) and dotted with craisins or raisins.

Celery is another one of those Dirty Dozen vegetables that retains the pesticides, so buy organic if you can. If celery’s not already on sale in your neck of the woods, it will be soon for the Thanksgiving holidays.

Store celery in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Limp celery can often be revitalized by an ice water bath.

3. Pumpkin Muffins

I’m able to get a wealth of veggies into my kids when I bake them into muffins and quick breads. These Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins will put a smile on any kid’s face.

Pumpkin, either fresh or canned, should be in full supply at the stores right now. And baking your own baked goods is an easy way to eat well and spend less.

4. Yogurt with Maple Syrup

This is one of my favorite snacks! Plain yogurt, preferably full fat because it tastes creamier, drizzled with maple syrup is divine.

If you buy the yogurt in large containers, you can usually find it on sale. Real maple syrup can be pricey, but so worth it. I buy it in bulk quantities at Costco or Trader Joe’s.

Several of the FishKids prefer honey on their yogurt. That may be a more economical choice for some families.

5. Applesauce

Applesauce is a very affordable snack, packed with vitamins and fiber. You can buy large jars and dole it out, or make your own in the crockpot. It freezes extremely well, meaning that you can maximize your time by making a ginormous batch. My kids like to eat it still partially frozen, like a slushie.

If pears are on sale, you can make pear sauce in the same way.

6. Cheddar Coins

These homemade cheese crackers are quick to pull together if you have a food processor. And they taste just like the boxed variety – only less addictive and a little bit healthier. You can also bake and freeze the coins to enjoy at a later date.

7. Cheese Slices and Homemade Bread

Baking fresh bread is not all that difficult, especially when you have a bread machine or follow the 5-minute Artisan Bread method. It’s easy, quick, and much cheaper than storebought bread. Hand your kids some cheese and a chunk of bread for a very Hobbit-like snack.

8. Hummus and Carrot Sticks

An egg allergy has eliminated ranch dressing from my repertoire. Good thing, too. It led us to make hummus a regular addition to the menu. My girls and I hover around the bowl and eat this healthy bean dip to our hearts’ content.

While I have several store brands that I love, I recently found out that it’s not all that difficult to make my own hummus. It’s incredibly inexpensive to make, especially if you omit the tahini. Serve with home-cut carrot sticks for an uber-frugal snack.

9. Croutons

Got leftover bread that no one wants to eat in a sandwich? Transform it into croutons. Sure, croutons usually top salads. But, when I make homemade croutons, very few make it to the salad bowl!

Toss bread cubes with a little melted butter or olive oil and toast them in the oven or in a pan on the stovetop. You can season them with garlic powder and herbs or go in the other direction and douse them with a little cinnamon sugar. Either way = yum!

10. Let them eat cake!

Snack cakes are a perfect little pick-me-up. They bake quickly without a lot of fuss. Boost their nutrition by adding seasonal fruit.

Inspired by a plum cake, I created this Spiced Pear Cake that disappeared in one sitting. We’ll be making it a lot more this winter. You can speed up the production by putting the dry mix in a bag marked with baking instructions. Homemade convenience on the cheap!


This post is part of an ongoing series about how to eat well and spend less. Along with some fabulous foodies, organizers, and frugalistas, I’ve been bringing you suggestions on how to eat like a king without becoming a pauper to do it. This month we’re discussing how to make the most of fall foods, sales, and other seasonal situations.

Be sure to check out what the other ladies are sharing this week or browse their archives:

What’s a favorite budget-friendly snack at YOUR house?

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Comments

  1. Carrot Spice Muffins made with whole wheat flour and LOTS of grated or chopped fine carrots!

  2. These look terrific. My pears can’t get enough apples and pears this time of year, in any form.

    Also, homemade ettle corn is a favorite treat around here.

  3. thanks for the great ideas! i have a hungry 2 year old, so i’m excited to try some new snacks. i did notice that the link to the cheddar crackers goes to the crock-pot apple sauce. where can I find the recipe for the homemade cheddar crackers? thanks so much!

  4. Love, love, love that you are referring to the Dirty Dozen list when you talk about produce! We try to buy organic for those foods more and more of the time, ESP. The foods that the kids eat the most of: carrots, apples, lettuce potatoes and – when the price is decent – grapes and celery.

  5. that cake sounds great! i just made a cinnamon apple cake that sounds similar but love the idea of pears. :)

  6. I love all the snacks you mentioned but especially the cheese crackers. I will for sure have to give those a try.

    My favorite snack and it smells SOOOO delicious as it bakes is homemade granola. My kids eat it plain, in yogurt, over fruit, and as cereal.

    Here is the link if anyone is interested.

    http://www.skinnymomskitchen.com/2011/09/12/delicious-homemade-granola-silver-palate-outrageous-granola-recipe/

  7. Posts like these are always so helpful. Kids are ever hungry, especially after things like swimming or gymnastics or SCHOOL!

    We’ve spent the last couple of weeks with the dehydrator always whirring making apple chips and I want to try kale chips soon. We make lots of different dips including a buffalo chicken one to go with our carrot sticks and red pepper sticks. I am still buying hummus though since I haven’t had homemade I love as much as the brand we buy, but I really need to keep trying.

    Another favorite are no-bake granola bars (http://jesser.org/?p=2115) … and I want to try making these power balls (http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2010/06/05/recipe-powerballs-two-versions/) as well – just need a few more hours in the day.

    • You will LOVE kale chips. I recently tried them and I couldn’t bake them fast enough. I stood at the counter eating one batch while the other batch baked, and so on until I ate the entire supply of kale I’d purchased. SOOOO good!

  8. I love this list. It amazes me how much my 3 year old boy eats already. And then there’s my 10 month old who appears to eat a lot and then later I find everything I gave her shoved under the cushions of her seat of down the front of her shirt.

    For anyone with a garden, there’s been a really easy type of celery that doesn’t require blanching that’s been showing up at my garden center the past two years. It grows well into November here in Virginia and doesn’t require very much work or water.

  9. Delicious looking muffins! I’m going to have to try them. With me pregnant, I’m just as ‘snacky’ as the kids. Great list of ideas to keep our tummies happy.

  10. Tori Palmer says:

    Popcorn, popped on the stove.
    Banana bread
    banana muffins
    homemade granola bars
    homemade chex mix
    homemade oatmeal cookies

  11. Thanks for the ideas! We are always searching for snack ideas because we have multiple food allergies to worry about (and allergy-friendly packaged food is expensive and of little nutritional value). I make bread weekly and freeze homemade waffles, pancakes, muffins and cookies but still feel limited in snack choices when the kiddos are tired and hungry.

  12. Great ideas, the recipe sounds yummy. I did a Daniel fast last year, and tried something called “date honey.” So easy to make, and super yummy and healthy as an apple dipper. Here’s a link to the recipe…
    http://www.ultimatedanielfast.com/2010/01/i-told-you-that-i-had-special-treat-to.html

  13. Thanks for the tasty ideas. I often refer to my three boys (and myself) as having hobbit appetites. We eat a lot of popcorn, even though I have to keep the vacuum sweeper handy. The pear cake looks great. We have a pear tree in our yard and can’t keep up. It’s a nice problem to have!

  14. Oh that pear cake sounds so good, I must try it! Also on celery…thank you. I needed that reminder! I just saw a lady’s blog, she soaks her celely in V8 juice in the fridge and the juice soaks up into the celery. When I was a little girl my mom would cut carrots into sticks and put them in a container of cold water in the fridge. It was so good like that!

  15. I have awarded you the Versatile Blog award! Come by my site and check it out. I love your blog.

    Mamie

  16. Great ideas! We do lots of muffins… they are great for hiding all kinds of healthy things (we always add chocolate chips too… they make everything better)

    Our biggest healthy go to snack is popcorn. We have a popper (I think that microwave stuff is exensive, unhealthy, and yucky). We pop it and put olive oil and sea salt on it and the kids eat tones of it. The straight poping corn is full of all kinds of good healthy things.

  17. For snacks, I love:
    - smoothies (so does my one-year-old :)
    - cottage cheese with apple butter
    - string cheese
    - baked apples

    As well as many of the things you have already mentioned, especially apples and peanut butter!

  18. You inspired me. I’ve got a vat of applesauce in the crockpot as we speak. I’ve never made it from scratch before. Next on the list is the pumpkin muffins. They sound fabulous.

  19. I started making my own YoCrunch with homemade crock pot yogurt and granola and other fun toppings. I package them separately and send them to school.

  20. Thanks for this. I’ve been looking for some good homemade snacks. My husband says we never have enough snacks in the house!

  21. I make banana-pumpkin-applesauce muffins with oatmeal, flax seed and raisins in them. I’m not a fan of banana bread but this recipe hides the flavor AND uses up those overripe bananas. My boys love them.
    Also – regular popcorn cooked in the microwave, which I’m a tad embarassed to admit I only just recently learned how to do.
    Thanks for the encouragement to buy organic. I don’t usually but want to more often. And thanks for all the snack inspiration. I’ve been stuck in a bit of a rut lately.

  22. Awesome ideas!! For those interested in a Ranch dressing recipe that doesn’t require eggs (I don’t like mayo, so I don’t use it at all), here’s one that my Ranch-loving family can’t get enough of (it’s adapted from the No-Mayonnaise Ranch Dressing on Allrecipes.com):

    Ranch Dressing
    1 cup sour cream
    1/2 cup buttermilk
    1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
    1/2 teaspoon dried chives
    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (or use fresh crushed garlic)
    1/2 teaspoon onion powder
    1/2 teaspoon sugar or substitute
    1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

    Mix all ingredients together and whisk until smooth. You may need to add more buttermilk to your desired consistency, or don’t add quite as much, and make it a dip! Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving (better overnight).

    To make Three-Cheese Ranch, add 2/3 cups finely shredded cheddar cheese, and 6 Tablespoons grated Parmesan-Romano blend (or whatever cheeses you like), and another 1/2 – 3/4 cups buttermilk. You’ll also need to add a dash more of each of the spices to flavor the added ingredients.

  23. Jjennie Fiumefreddo says:

    Made your spiced pear cake tonight and it was great! I added alittle clove to the other spices and served warm with whipped cream…..YUMMM!!!!

  24. Great Post! Great recipes! What is is about after school snack? My 7yr old comes home from school starving like he hasn’t eaten for days (I give him a colossal lunch and a full breakfast too). All that growing and learning I suspect. thanks for some new ideas on an area I’d gone dry on. Looking forward to trying the Pear Cake.

  25. Thanks so much for this list! Snacks seem to be the hardest foods to get cheap and healthy!
    We like a lot of the snacks you mentioned and also popcorn, crackers with peanut butter and homemade trail mix using cheap ingredients like peanuts, raisins and banana chips.

  26. Those fall snacks look delicious! This is our favorite fall snack…apple crisps! http://eco18.com/recipe-apple-crisps/

  27. Great cake! Made it 2 nights ago and it was devoured. :) I did double the spices, including zest – except cinnamon – I used 1tsp cinn in the cake and another 1/2tsp in the topping. So good. Only downside? The family wants me to make it again immediately…..
    oh – I also used a 8X8 regular glass baking pan – cooked an extra 20min or so – worked fine.
    :)

Trackbacks

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  2. [...] I am always looking for fun, healthy snacks for my kids, and Jessica at Life as MOM has 10 Frugal Fall Snacks for Hungry Kids. [...]

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  5. [...] if you’re up for prepping ahead — especially when they’re packed with fruit or veggies. This low-sugar, whole-wheat apple pear cake is full of fruit and fall spices. Plus, who doesn’t feel special when you get to eat cake midday [...]

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