An easy solution for saving your food budget during the summer! Limit snacking with this simple trick and teach your kids self-discipline in the process.
Do your kids eat you out of house and home during summer vacation? Because mine totally do.
Something about being home all day without a regimented school schedule leads kids to the pantry as soon as they feel a little bored. Summer is already leaner for us financially, so I have had to come up with some good solutions in order to keep my grocery bill from exploding and to keep my children from eating too much.
A couple summers ago, I came up with a great snack solution—I assigned each child a bin in the pantry and divided out the snacks evenly on grocery day each week. Any snacks that had to be refrigerated were put into a large plastic baggie and kept in the fridge.
Each kid was in charge of her own snacks during the week—she could eat them all on the first day and have nothing to eat the rest of the week, or she could ration them however she wanted.
It made a huge difference on our grocery bill and the kids loved the system.
That system was before we had to go gluten-free, so I’ve had to change it up a little in order to keep it working for us.
In order for this system to keep working for us, it was necessary to move the entire arrangement to the fridge. Gluten-free snacks don’t keep super well in the pantry (especially when it’s hot), and besides, we don’t buy a whole lot of GF convenience foods because they tend to be rather expensive.
Moving everything to the fridge was fine, but the bins I used wouldn’t fit well in my fridge.
So, I took some measurements and went in search of some new snack bins and a larger bin to contain all the produce insanity I tend to have in the summers. Lucky for me, I found some that were just about perfect (purchase them here).
I love the way these bins stack easily, stay closed, and are pretty all at the same time. I used some of them for organizing my kitchen cupboard and did I mention I love them? And they come in tons of different sizes, which makes them all the better.
First, I neatly arranged all my extra produce into the larger bin and stuck it into the fridge. Seriously, that was so easy that I’m embarrassed I didn’t think of it before.
Now I can just take the whole bin out and easily find whatever I am looking for when I would like to make a green smoothie or a salad. And I won’t be losing a bunch of wonderful, locally-grown greens from my CSA this summer because they’re buried under the asparagus. Hooray!
Now on to the snack bins.
First, I carefully partitioned everything out. We can’t have any one girl getting more pretzels or carrots than another (ohmygosh the fairness issue will kill me one day).
Some of the things I put in our snack bins are:
- cheese sticks
- yogurt/yogurt tubes
- trail mix
- gluten-free pretzels
- sweet potato chips
- Babybel cheese
- cottage cheese
- gluten-free cookies
The fruit I put in the snack bins are things like peaches and strawberries—stuff that I don’t buy a ton of. I do buy a ton of apples and bananas, and they can eat those all day long. But when they’re gone, they’re gone.
Finally, I used my favorite label maker and slapped some name labels on those bins and put them in the fridge.
If I only had two children, this set up would be absolute perfection. The bins fit exactly into the space.
But since I have three children and I have to be totally fair, I will throw out my aesthetics. Luckily, the bins still fit just fine—they just don’t look as pretty.
My middle daughter helped me get the bins filled for the first time, and when we finished she said, “I love snack bins because you don’t have to ask for snacks!” Bless her heart. She is the only one who ever asks for food, and consequently, she probably never gets any because her sisters who don’t ask eat it all.
But asking aside, the point of these bins is to make your life easier, your grocery bill smaller, and your children more self-reliant. You can make pantry bins for each child, along with refrigerated bins. The idea is to come up with a way for kids to have their own snacks that they don’t have to ask for—and when they’re gone, they’re gone.
This method really does work!
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