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Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Eating Well


Snacking “cents”

Amanda Stevens, former Dietetic Intern, University of Missouri & Candance Gabel, MS, RD, LD, Associate State Nutrition Specialist, University of Missouri Extension


We can all relate to being short on time, which often translates into eating more snacks and fewer meals. But this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Snacking in and of itself is not the problem — it’s the type of snacks you choose. While sugary and high-fat snacks are readily available, choosing healthy snacks that nourish and sustain can be easy and cost effective. Here are some ideas for healthy and affordable snacks:


Shopping tips:


  • Make a grocery list that includes healthy snacks. Then, make sure to keep these cheaper and healthier items on hand. Stick to your list and avoid impulse buying.
  • Do not shop when you’re hungry, or you will buy more than you need.
  • Buy quantities that you can readily use or store to prevent wasting food.
  • Save money by purchasing store brands or generics. Compared to name brands, they are equal in quality and less expensive.
  • Beware of sale gimmicks. End-of-aisle displays are not always specials.
  • Look at all the shelves. The best values are usually placed on the top and bottom shelves, while high-ticket items sit at eye level. These items are also less healthy and packaged in larger quantities.
  • Compare prices by unit for the best price. Don’t forget to read nutrition labels and ingredient lists. You want a healthy deal!
  • Avoid convenience stores. You pay double for convenience. An apple at the grocery store costs around 30 cents compared to 75 cents at a convenience store!
  • Only use coupons for products that you regularly purchase. Coupons can lure you into buying extras that you don’t really need.


Home ideas:


  • When you’re on the go, bring a healthy snack from home. This is cheaper and healthier than options from a vending machine or convenience store.
  • If you forget to bring a snack, try to choose the healthiest and cheapest item from a vending machine or convenience store. Try pretzels instead of chips, or an apple instead of a candy bar.
  • Eat breakfast at home or bring it with you. A daily muffin and coffee out easily adds up to $50 per month!
  • Fresh veggies or fruit, dried fruit, low-fat yogurt, whole-grain bagels and muffins, dry cereal, cheese, whole-grain crackers, boiled eggs, rice cakes, leftovers and sandwiches are all easy to-go items.
  • Take 100-percent fruit juice in a plastic container from home instead of buying individual juice boxes.
  • Milk is a powerhouse of nutritional value. Choose it instead of soft drinks. Try flavoring your milk with fruit or juice for a “new” drink.


Vegetables & fruit:


  • Fruits are an inexpensive, healthy choice year-round. Try a new exotic fruit or spice up traditional fruit by adding cinnamon, allspice or honey.
  • Buy fresh produce in amounts that you eat before it spoils. It may be cheaper to buy in bulk, but if you can’t eat it all you’re not saving money.
  • Vegetables are a cheap and easy to-go item. Many vegetables come in convenient packaging too, but you can create your own to-go veggie packages to save money.
  • Pre-cut your own veggies. Keep them sealed in a container or plastic bag to keep them fresh. 
  • Not all juices are created equal. When choosing fruit or vegetable juices, make sure it is actually called juice, not a “drink.” Drinks contain a lot of sugar and little nutrition.


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Last update: Friday, September 25, 2015