Lunch Kit Snacks – Grocery Series Pt. 3

Wow OK so this post has been a long time coming. I really did mean to get to this one sooner. Simply put 4 kids = busy. Plus I wanted to be able to beef up the recipes I had available and make sure they were worth it, possibly test a few. But some of that didn’t happen. For one I gave up Chocolate for Lent and well I wasn’t going out of my way to make treats I couldn’t eat. (Right now so this is the second time I’ve sat down to write this post as well. This stuff here in the brackets, and the recipes. Which I have now decided even though I just said I wanted to beef them up, I’m really feeling rather lazy now and will just post a few that I like. I’m not going to lie and maybe this will bother me later but I’ve just enjoyed a nice meal with friends and half a bottle, rather large one too, of wine. Yes so I just want to finish this one as nicely as I can and go put my feet up. Here’s a story for you now Marie! You lot shared yours now mine is on the internet. But all the other stuff I did write is true, super busy here.) I also feel like my house is stuck on Ground Hog Day, only in the form of the Robert Munsch book, Jonathan Cleaned Up and Then He Heard a Sound, or Blackberry Subway Jam. Because at this point every time I turn around or hear a sound I’m looking at a mess to clean up. In 1 week I’ve had to clean out my fridge from Chili, and my walls and ceiling due to Oatmeal. Thankfully though the other day my friend Marie watched the kids for me so I could go to my Girl Guide meeting and finish some program with them, anyways so nice to come home and my dishes were washed, both living and family room were tidied up too. Huge weight off my shoulders. Marie is also a mom of 6 and gets it. It really isn’t easy when you’ve got 4 little ones running around, making a mess behind you. Plus mine are still all 6 and under. That is a big difference from families where the kids are spread apart more, they can help pitch in, and they also go to school too so you have less to watch in the day. Not saying they still aren’t busy because with age and school also comes outside activities. Anyways it was a blessing for sure to have that done for me. OK I best stop yammering on and get on to the point though eh?

Part of saving money in your groceries is simply making more things from scratch and by hand rather than taking the easy way out and buying them ready-made and prepared for you all ready. But how do you save money when it comes to your lunches, whether it be your own kids or those in your household going to work. Leftovers and easy to make sandwiches is usually your best bet for your main course part of your meal. Thermos’s and easy to cook up items work great too. Snacks, the bane of every mother’s existence. Because no matter what you buy or bake your kids always want what the other kids bring. Sometimes even the spouses complain as well. I almost fell victim to that yesterday myself at the front of Superstore was a display showing Fruit by the foot and Dunk a roos on sale. A good price too! But if I buy it once I’ll have to buy it again some time else and having stuff like that on hand all the time would be too costly not to mention a little unhealthy too.

In all honesty this has been a topic I have rolled around in my head. Are you really saving money doing things from scratch? Is it any healthier? I’m I going to drive myself crazy putting all this effort in, well at least while the kids are young and need me to do it for them. So what I’ve done is I have, done a little price comparison. Picked  a few good recipes  that I enjoy, make lots and are easy. And gone with a bit of convenience. Some price comparison’s are for what I have currently, I am working on another post breaking down the price point for Superstore and Costco, possibly Walmart too. The point is that if you know the price per unit you are paying you can easily figure out whether or not a sale is really good. I’m going to put together a small note-book or card to keep with my coupons on  things like this and other important things I buy so I can easily calculate in the store, or look at the tag if they do the break down for you. Stores do it often where they make it look like a huge sale but really it isn’t, we all just fall victim to they’re sales tactics and ploys. Part of being a frugal mom is doing your research and knowing what to look for.

Cheese and Cracker Snacks:

2 Choices for this one, you can stick Cheese Whiz in a container with some Crackers (on sale of course) or you can buy them ready-made. If you want to go for nutrition you use real cheese.

No Name brand packs sell in sets of 5 for $1.46, working out to be $0.29 each, for some odd reason and it wasn’t a sale I did find that No Name single packs like this were cheaper than buying the bulk package of them. This also isn’t the first item I’ve found it on either. So watch out if you buy lots of Superstore no name brand sometimes buying the smaller packages of the items is more cost-effective than thinking you are saving when you buy the case. Also of course No Name was cheaper than the Kraft Brand. I didn’t remember to write this price down though.

Goldfish Crackers are a nice easy alternative too. I found that Superstore sold them for the best price at $8.99 for the 1.36kg box, and even though the PC brand was $.100 cheaper it was about half the amount inside. Plus way more needless packaging.

Granola Bars:

I have tried different times to make my own and I have yet to find a recipe that I find works just as well and is easy. I have found one on Pinterest but I have yet to test it out. This is another of those just as easy to buy ready-made snacks. So what I did was I went to Superstore and Walmart and I wrote down all the different varieties of boxes, flavors and sizes and figured out a price per bar for each one and figured out what and where the best priced ones were. Superstore won all around for the price point. If you can find them cheaper than stock up on that sale! I tried to make sure all my prices are based on regular price.

  • No Name Plain Chocolate Chip ones were the lowest price all around at $0.19 per bar for the 40 bar box.
  • Quaker Plain Chocolate Chip were close behind at $.022 per bar for the 40 bar box.
  • Dipped bars of Quaker (30box) and No Name (18box) both came in at $0.33 per bar.

Nutrigrain Bars

Again same research and both Superstore and Walmart had the same price on the box of 32 bars at $7.97 making each bar $0.25. Surprisingly both Store Brands of these were more expensive per bar but only because they didn’t sell them in large boxes. At least ones I could find the days I went to the store.

Nature Valley Bars

Superstore’s No Name brand of these in the 18 box packs won hands down at $0.33 per bar. Both Trail Mix and Sweet and Salty variety.

Apple Sauce

Again Superstore’s large pack of 36 containers for Mott’s worked out to be $0.28 for each one and $9.99 for the box.

Those are the items that I most often purchase for my kids for their lunches. The other things I do try to make. One thing my mom used to do for me that I have found cheaper to buy, on sale though, is pudding. My mom used to make it and send it in a little Tupperware container, but now with the price of the mix being just as much as the ready-made you are just better off to wait for a sale where you can get a 4 pack for $1.00. You can’t buy the powder that cheap anymore and you still need milk. Walmart quite often sells the Snack Packs for $1.00 if you watch.

Muffins

Hands down making these is far cheaper. My kids love them too and they are so easy to freeze and have handy. I usually do have lots of these around but lately I’ve just not had time to make them like I want. I have 2 favorite recipes that I enjoy. Both using Zucchini because I’m so good at growing them in my garden. I usually at the end of the season grate all of them up and then freeze them in double portions for my muffins. I always have to make double batches because we do enjoy them so much. Here are the recipes for your own enjoyment. I’d love to post more muffin recipes but I stuck with my favorites since the internet and Pinterest are loaded with so many more it is really easy to find some.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins (single batch)

  • 1/2 cup hard margarine (I always use butter)
  • 1 1/3 cups Granulated Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups Flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa sifted
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 1/3 cup grated zucchini (packed with peel)
  • 1/3 cup sour milk (1 tsp vinegar plus milk)
Cream Sugar and Butter together. Beat in eggs and Vanilla. In a separate bowl mix milk and zucchini. In another bowl mix all dry ingredients together. In your butter bowl slowly mix in and alternate between zucchini and dry ingredients, starting and ending with dry. Mix together well. Add to muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. 
Lemon Zucchini Muffins (single batch)
Wet Ingredients
  • 1 cup grated and drained zucchini
  • 1 lemon rind of zest
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • Pinch of Nutmeg
Mix all those together in a bowl.
Dry Ingredients
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 tsp of Baking Soda
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
Mix all dry together. When done create  well in the centre of the dry bowl and slowly mix in the wet ingredients with a fork. Preheat oven to 350 and bake muffins for 20 minutes.
Other Baked Goods
This is the lazy part of me talking again. I love cookies and loaves and all other sorts of baked goods. Make up extra batches of your favorite cookies. Banana bread is a great idea too. Since loaves down always work out for me I always make them into muffins. I also have a great Banana bar recipe, I’ll share it later. Simply put on your thinking cap, grab an apron and tap into that domestic diva in you and start baking. Unless your my mom then just buy it from the store ready made. Next time I’m home mom I’ll make you lots of muffins so you don’t have to worry about the just add water kind. I’m going to get a phone call on this one.
Also have fun with your recipes. Don’t worry about having all the ingredients. I cut up chocolate bunnies and use them in my baking. I add cranberries over raisins (mostly cause I don’t like raisins), or whatever else I have around I think will taste good.
There really isn’t an easy solution to being frugal, especially in the grocery area. Lots of it is practice, learning what is a good price and doing research. Sit down with your family and work together on some of this if it feels like too much and see if you can all pull together to save money. Maybe you have a budding chef in your family who is happy to spend an afternoon baking the lunch snacks for the week or month. Or you may have someone who needs to work or math skills or loves math who can help you crunch some numbers. Unless you are like me don’t feel that you have to be the only one doing this. I’m strange I like things orderly, I like to research stuff and use my calculator in the grocery store. I am working on a blog about my home management binder filled with all kinds of nerdy things like this. To the point, if you don’t care about saving money on your groceries then you probably are not reading this. If you are then you already know if you want to save it does require a little work and research up front.
Night all I’m off to read my book now.
Heather

 


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About heathereyestone

I'm a stay at home mom of 4 kids, the youngest being twins. I try to live my life as green as I can, and love the outdoors.
This entry was posted in Budgeting, Grocery Shopping, Helpful Hints, Quick Money Saving Tips. Bookmark the permalink.

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