29 Cheap & Healthy Snack Ideas

Are you looking for snack ideas that are convenient, cheap and healthy and that you and the kids will like? 

As a parent, I understand the struggle of finding satisfying and nutritious snacks without spending a lot of money.

The snack aisle is packed with endless varieties of chips and cookies. They’re convenient, many come in individually sized packages. Loading the cart with individually sized packages is convenient and you already know your family like them.

But you’re looking for ways to cut the grocery budget and change up the usually go-to salty and sugary snacks for healthier options.

“Healthy” food has the reputation of being pricier. That’s not always the case though.

In this article, I provide a variety of cheap and healthy snack ideas that are easy to prep and will satisfy different tastes. Use this list as a starting point and experiment by mixing and matching snacks or coming up with new ideas your family will love.

Let’s dive in!

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Pinterest pin with picture of healthy snacks.

What is a “Healthy” Snack?

What makes a “healthy snack” healthy? As a registered dietitian, I looked for balanced snacks with a combination of macronutrients (protein, healthy fat and carbohydrates) low in saturated fats, added sugars and sodium. High fiber is a bonus!

Fruits and Veggies Snacks

The USDA recommends that adults get about 3 servings of vegetables and 1-2 servings of fruit daily. Most aren’t meeting the recommended amount of fruits and veggies. In a survey from 2019, it was found that only a small number of adults ate enough veggies and fruit each day. Just 12.5% ate the three servings of veggies, and only 10% ate the one or two servings recommended by the USDA.

Snacking not only satisfies hunger, but it’s also an opportunity to add a variety of fruits and veggies to your day. Prepping snacks from the grocery store’s produce department will boost the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber in your diet.

But variety matters. The more colors and types of fruits and vegetables you eat throughout the week, the more nutrients you’ll get. For example, leafy greens are an excellent source of B vitamins while orange and red vegetables such as sweet potatoes and carrots are loaded with vitamin A.

Grabbing an apple or banana is a quick and easy snack that you can eat on the go. But for a snack that will hold you over until your next meal, combine fruit or veggies with a protein or healthy fat.

Here are some cheap and easy snack ideas:

  • Sliced apples with nut butter or a handful of lightly salted homemade roasted nuts
  • Celery sticks filled with cream cheese or peanut butter
  • Berries with plain yogurt
  • Carrot sticks and hummus
  • Cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls
  • Banana slices topped with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey
  • Banana slices dipped in chocolate and frozen
  • Strawberries and chocolate hummus
  • Watermelon and cottage cheese
  • Banana “ice cream”
  • Fruit smoothie with yogurt, milk or protein powder

Money and time-saving tips

The biggest concerns I hear about fruits and vegetables are the cost and the inconvenience of washing, prepping and packing fresh snacks to-go. Eating fresh produce only takes a little more time to prep but there are ways to save time and money while including nutrient-dense snacks in your family’s diet.

Seasonal eating: When fruits and veggies are on sale at their lowest price during peak season. So, look for in-season produce for both affordability and freshness.

Prep and storage tips: Some produce stays fresh in the refrigerator days after they’ve been washed and chopped. But some produce, like leafy greens and berries, are fragile and break down faster after they’ve been washed.

To keep salad and other leafy greens fresh longer, use a salad spinner and dry thoroughly before storing. Only wash mushrooms and berries (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and cranberries) close to when you plan to eat them.

Vegetables like carrots and peppers are great snacks alone or with your favorite veggie dip. You can wash, slice and pack them in individual snack containers so they’re ready for snacking throughout the week.

Celery and cucumbers tend to dry out after they’re sliced and stored but they’ll still have flavor for a couple of days if stored properly.

Cheap Homemade Snacks

Making snacks at home is a cost-effective way to control ingredients and portion sizes.

Here are some simple recipes to try:

  • Homemade trail mix with nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and whole grain cereal
  • Baked kale chips seasoned with olive oil, salt, and your favorite spices
  • Energy balls made with oats, nut butter, honey, and dark chocolate chips
  • Roasted chickpeas tossed in olive oil and spices like cumin, paprika, and garlic powder
  • Air popper popcorn flavored with nutritional yeast, sea salt, and a sprinkle of chili powder
  • Roasted nuts
  • Fruit muffins*
  • Egg & veggie muffins*
  • Cheese quesadillas
  • Hardboiled eggs (peel before storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator)

*Tip: Store in the freezer in a freezer-safe bag or container.

Money and time saving tips:

DIY pantry staples: Keep homemade staples like granola, energy bars, and flavored popcorn seasoning blends to save money instead of spending on store-bought options.

Pre-portion DIY snack kits: Portion and assemble DIY snack kits with a variety of ingredients that can be mixed and matched for quick and easy snacks on the go.

Batch cooking: When you have extra time, batch cook and prep snacks. Buying in bulk and batch cooking can save time and money by purchasing food at the lower bulk unit cost and streamlining the prep. But make sure you label everything and store the homemade snacks in airtight containers in the pantry or freezer.

Healthy Cheap Snacks to Buy on a Budget

For a food company to call its product “healthy,” it must meet certain criteria from the FDA. Processed food with “healthy” labeled on the package should contain:

  • 3 grams or less per serving of total fat
  • 1 gram or less per serving of saturated fat
  • 480 milligrams of sodium or less, except if the serving is very small, like 30 grams or 2 tablespoons. Then, it should have 50 milligrams or less of sodium in each serving.

These FDA label guidelines are based on how much food the average person might eat at one time.

Don’t worry. You can skip the math and still eat healthy!

As a general guideline, look for packaged foods that are baked instead of fried, are “low sodium”, have very little or no added sugar and have some fiber as a bonus. And, don’t forget to include a protein or healthy fat for a more substantial snack.

Look for:

  • Whole grain crackers or rice cakes topped with cheese or avocado
  • Plain yogurt cups (add fruit or granola)
  • Canned tuna or salmon packets for a protein-packed snack on the go
  • Single-serve hummus or guacamole cups paired with whole grain pita or veggie sticks
  • Pre-cut fruit and veggie trays found in the produce or deli section
  • Graham cracker with nut butter
  • Low-sodium beef jerky
  • Low sodium pretzels

Money and time saving tips:

Buy in bulk: Buy in bulk and portion out snacks into reusable containers for easy grab-and-go options.

Sales and coupons: Take advantage of sales and coupons to stock up on pantry staples like nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

Try generic brands: Opt for store brands of your favorite snacks to save money without sacrificing quality.

Compare prices: The sale price may not be the lowest. The cost varies with the size of the container and brand. When in doubt about which product is the cheapest, compare the unit costs of different brands and sizes.

The store brand brand is often cheaper per unit even compared to the sale price of a brand name. But not always. And while the unit cost is usually lower when you buy in bulk, a good sale on a smaller package may have a lower unit cost. So always compare the prices.

And, if you’re brand loyal and don’t want to try a different brand, stock up when your favorite snacks are on sale. 

What are your favorite budget friendly healthy snacks?

About Jennifer Messineo, MS, RD

I’m a food loving Registered Dietitian. I help families plan meals, reduce food waste and save money on food!

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