I am a huge snacker. I don’t eat a lot at each meal, but I eat several times throughout the day. For example, here’s my daily eating schedule:
I may or may not eat breakfast. If I do on a weekday, it’s usually something like Greek yogurt, a granola bar, or a pre-made breakfast burrito. However, if it’s the weekend, I may eat bacon or sausage, eggs, and toast.
Then, at about 10:00, I’m hungry again. I’ll either try to wait it out until lunch or I’ll have a snack.
At noon, I’m almost always ready to eat lunch! I often eat at noon exactly, unless there’s something else going on that prevents me from doing so.
At around 3:30, I usually eat another snack.
5:30 is dinner time. And then I don’t eat again until the next day. I snack a lot throughout the day, but I’m not a night-time snacker.
I also keep a close eye on my finances. So how do I save money at the grocery store when I like to snack all the time? I’ll tell you.
Re-Package it Yourself
My number one cost saving tip is that I buy full sized packages and break it down into smaller portions on my own. I do have a costco membership because I needed it to buy the matching flooring for my house, and sometimes I go in and get the giant Kirkland brand coffee tins. However, after that, I’m only feeding myself and don’t need food in bulk.
For me, repackaging food just means buying the regular or party size bag of chips, the standard size bag of granola, a regular bunch of grapes, or chopping up apples or strawberries. If I leave these things all in their regular packaging I either don’t eat them because it seems like a lot of work, or I eat them all in one sitting. For you, your purchases may be the same, or it may mean buying the large packages of a variety of foods at the bulk food store, and making smaller packages yourself for you and your family.
When I make my lunches, I love bringing salads. I’ve tried bringing the full ingredients for salad to work and making it there, but I just don’t do it. So I have learned to either buy the bagged lettuce when I’m super slammed, or to save money, buy romaine and chop it myself. Then I also chop up the toppings I like (usually carrots and bell peppers if they’re on sale) and put them into individual containers. This works as a different flavor to my lunch and keeps me from eating my snack during my lunch hour instead of around 3:30.
Buy What is On Sale
I’d love to always have chips for a snack, but aside from the fact that they’re not the healthiest choice, chips can be pretty pricey if they’re not on sale. If what I really want is full price, and the rest of the food I’m buying for dinners that week includes a lot of protein, I change my snacking plan. For example, this week, regular sized bags were full price for $4.28, but two party sized bags were $4.00. So I bought two party sized bags and I’ll break up the other bag of ruffles next week!
If the Kind Bars are on sale, I’ll get those, but if Nature Valley Peanut Butter Bars are cheaper, I get those. For granola bars, I just bring the entire box to work and leave them in my office. This keeps me from mindlessly eating them at home.
If I go through the produce section, and Honey Crisp apples are a good deal, I grab three of those (I know I won’t eat an apple all five days of the week) and bypass the chips.
On my favorite weeks, the homemade salsas are on sale and I pair that with a bag of Juanitas for the ultimate 3:00 stress food snack: Chips and Salsa. Yum!
It’s a lot easier for me to adjust my snacking options based on sales than my dinner plans. Be flexible in what you take to work each day so that you can save the most money while avoiding the hangry version of you that shows up in the middle of the day when you’re also sleepy and overworked!
Plan Ahead with your Schedule
I don’t always spend every day of the week in my office. This means that I don’t need a snack every morning/afternoon. If I’ve purchased produce, then I need to make sure that it’s not going to go bad, which is the biggest money waste of all! If I have something that’s non perishable and something that is perishable, I need to keep an eye on my changing schedule and make sure that if something changes later in the week, I eat the apple instead of the bag of chips.
I also keep certain, non-perishable items at my office. For example, I keep salad dressing in my office fridge, and croutons in my office. This way, it never matters if I run to the nearby grocery store’s salad bar (you’ll save money if you buy only the salad and add salad dressing at home/work because it will weigh way less!), I brought it myself, or salad toppings were all expensive and I only brought lettuce, I have the toppings ready to go. Figure out what you can keep at your work so that you don’t have to plan around it, and then spend a little bit of time on Sunday planning the logistics of how to bring the rest!
With these three habits, I am able to snack when I want to, and avoid being hangry around the office. Easy, peasy (and everyone around me is happier)! Do you have any other tips on how to save money on snack foods? What’s your favorite mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack?