10 healthy after-school snacks for a $1

Kids are back in school, so on the front of your mind might be school lunches and after-school snacks. We’ve got you covered. Not long ago, I did a blog about healthy snacks that wouldn’t cost you a whole lot.

It seems challenging to feed children healthy snacks without spending a lot of money. It’s easier, and cheaper, to grab a few cookies or a bag of chips than it is to get your kids’ hands on something that’s good for them, right? Or, you might even turn to 100-calorie snack packs, but are they good options?

Dr. Paige Espenship, a nutrionist and dietician with offices in Kennesaw and Atlanta, answers these questions. We put her to the challenge, asking her to come up with a list of 10 healthy, kid-friendly snacks for a $1. She offered these suggestions, making note that the items are about $1 per serving:

1. Paper Bag Popcorn. Kids can pop their own popcorn in a brown paper lunch sack and then season the popcorn how they like it. Just add 1/4 cup (or 3 tablespoons) of popcorn to a brown paper bag, roll the bag over twice and put a staple on each side to keep it closed. Microwave for 3.5 minutes (I know what you are thinking, but two staples are fine in the microwave). It is easy, cheap and extremely healthy. Let your kids get creative about how to season their own popcorn. Maybe garlic and rosemary or cumin and coriander?
Makes 1 serving

2. “Ants on a Log”. This classic snack is cheap and healthy. Just spread one large stalk of celery with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and place 10 to 15 raisins on top of the peanut butter. Your kids will love it.
Makes 1 serving

"Ants on a Log" is a helthful alternative snack

3. Pita Pizza. This recipe goes over very well with everyone who likes pizza. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spoon 2 or 3 tablespoons of spaghetti sauce (to get even healthier, puree extra veggies into your sauce ahead of time). Top the sauce with some kid friendly veggies like chopped broccoli, squash and zucchini. Top with 1/4 cup low fat mozzarella cheese. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. The perfect after school snack.
Makes 1 serving

4. Hummus with veggies. This snack is delicious and healthy for everyone in the family. In a food processor, add 2 cloves garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 can rinsed chickpeas, and 1/2 package or 1 cup silken tofu. Add 1/4 cup of fresh herbs like basil or cilantro. Puree until smooth. Serve with veggies such as cucumber, bell peppers, celery, carrots and broccoli.
makes 3 servings

5. Super Healthy Fruit Smoothie. This is a refreshing treat, especially in the summer. A great alternative to ice cream and much easier on the waistline. In a blender add 1/2 cup of frozen fruit, 1 cup of milk and 1 tbsp of honey. Puree until smooth and enjoy.
makes 1 serving

6. Soynuts. An alternative to peanuts, soynuts contain more fiber and protein and less fat than peanuts. The next time your kids want something crunchy try these.
1 serving= 1/4 cup

7. Whole Wheat Pita chips. These crunchy chips can be seasoned any way your kids want and they are the perfect snack with lots of fiber and plenty of B vitamins. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the pita into triangular wedges and brush with just a little bit of olive oil. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper or to spice it up try cumin and paprika. Bake on a cookie sheet for 8 to 10 minutes until crispy.
1 pita = 1 serving

8. Hard Boiled Egg. Although eggs are a significant source of saturated fat and cholesterol, the protein, vitamins and minerals in eggs are extremely high quality. Hard boiled eggs are cheap and easy.
Serving= 1 egg

9. Apple and peanut butter. Another cheap healthy and easy option. An apple and peanut butter is the perfect balance of carbs, protein and fat for a quick snack.
Serving= 1 medium apple and 2 tbsp peanut butter

10. Yogurt. As simple as it seems, a container of yogurt can be one of the best ways to ward off hunger before your kids next meal. Yogurt contains a significant source of potassium, carbohydrate and protein. Look for yogurts that are close to 100 calories and do not contain artificial sweetners like asulfame potassium, aspartame, or sucralose. For the healthiest choice, try adding 1 tbsp of honey to 6 ounces of plain yogurt.

17 comments Add your comment


July 19th, 2009
2:26 pm


July 19th, 2009
2:37 pm



One egg contains about 213 milligrams of dietary cholesterol.

The daily recommended cholesterol limit is less than 300 milligrams for people with normal LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.


The way I understand it, the yoke of an egg is all cholesterol.

So what I do is I give the yoke to the birds!


July 19th, 2009
4:33 pm

Thanks for the tips … now if only we could get some prepackaged snacks there weren’t full of junk. Anyone have any suggestions???


July 20th, 2009
9:39 am

Prepackaged snacks that are healthful are tough to find. Yogurt is a good choice (just watch the ingredients) Most fruit is “pre-packaged” like an apple, pear, cheeries, grapes etc. They require nothing more than a washing.

With a little extra effort and just a few minutes and “pre-package” your own snacks, which I what I try to do.

Rana Cash

July 20th, 2009
11:22 pm

Good advice, Stan. Thanks


July 21st, 2009
2:31 pm

The comment about the popcorn. I think you have to careful with the staple in the microwave. That could cause a fire.


August 10th, 2009
1:27 pm

Even without the staples I’d have a fire extinguisher on hand. You can’t walk away from this like it was a commercially packaged bag of popcorn.


August 10th, 2009
1:29 pm

Even without the staples I’m uneasy about the homemade popcorn bag.

Unlike a commercially package popcorn, you can’t walk away from the homemade version while it’s in the microwave.

I’d have a fire extinguisher on hand and definitely adult supervision.


August 10th, 2009
1:39 pm

Eggs are not a significant source of saturated fat. They are high in cholesterol but this usually is not a concern for most folks.

VoiceOf Reason

August 10th, 2009
3:05 pm

First of all, where are you shopping where as these snacks are about $1 per serving. Popcorn? Ants on a log? Yogurt? Eggs? If this is costing you more than 30 to 50 cent per serving, you’re doing something wrong. Now, with that said…..

these are great suggestions! (Except the pita pizza, thats kinda filling for a snack. I can’t imagine a kid eating that and still having room for dinner a couple hours later. Maybe a teenage boy…..)

And Kroger has Lunchables on sale for 10 for $10 this week!!!!!!!

Beverley Cunningham

August 10th, 2009
6:41 pm

Thanks for these quick & easy to make recipes. I don’t have any kids, but I will be making some of these delicious snacks for myself!


August 10th, 2009
7:01 pm

Lunchables are easy but many are junk food. And one of the worst offenders for cluttering up landfills with all that packaging!


August 11th, 2009
1:17 pm

I tend to do like Stan and make my own “snack size” treats for my son who is five. I make our own trail mix – containing almonds, Craisins, some Gerber Graduate sweet potato snacks (he still loves them) and goldfish. I buy all of these items in bulk (less pricey), then mix them up and make our own baggies to take to school for snack time or to have around the house. String cheese is a great option, as well. Yogurt is always a hit at our house and often we freeze it with a popsicle stick and it’s a creamy frozen treat! Nutri-Grain bars are good and easy on the go snacks, as well. Also, try edamame – shelled.

Blackberry Cobbler

August 11th, 2009
2:47 pm

I’m a diabetic. I need ideas for snacks that are zero/very low sugar and very low in carbs. Any suggestions.


August 11th, 2009
3:58 pm

I usually slice up an apple,some cheddar cheese, and 2 rectangles of a low-fat cinnamon graham cracker after getting my daughters off the school bus. That holds them until dinner a couple of hours later.


September 2nd, 2009
5:58 pm

Thanks for all of the great suggestions!


August 22nd, 2010
8:01 am

Thank you Rana!! All of the ideas are good. I live in NY. I am putting my school grocery list together today. Unlike the South, our children won’t return to school until September.
Regarding the eggs………as with any food moderation is the way to go. It is a perfect snack! Sometimes my son will get on an egg kick. So Herbie’s idea about feeding birds the yoke is a good one. Then I can chop the egg white into prepared tuna fish and my son doesn’t know the difference.
I have a teenage son. ‘Voice of Reason’ is absolutely on target with her comment. Yes, VOR, the pita pizza is perfect for a teenage boy. And he DOES finish his dinner within an hour and a half of ingesting vast quantities of food. (Lucky and might I add SKINNY boy LOL).
Again, Rana, thanks for a nice list of FILLING (key for me feeding a teenage boy) and healthy snack ideas.