Wednesday, October 10, 2012

31 Days:: Package Your Own Snacks

Those individual bags of chips and miniature cookies are so convenient, aren't they?  They almost make me look forward to making lunches!  Oh, wait, I guess I won't go that far!

Here I am, creating more work for you.  But do the math and find out how much you'll save if you invest a few minutes into packaging up your own snacks.  Need some examples?

1  13.7oz box of Cheez-its = $1.76 if bought on sale with a coupon ($2.06/lb)
1  box of 12 - 1.25oz bags of Cheez-its (15oz total) = $4.00 if bought on sale ($4.26/lb)

4 lb bag of Kirkland brand trail mix = $12.99 ($3.25/lb)
2.81 lb box of Kirkland brand trail mix pouches = $11.59 ($4.12/lb)

1 - 11.5oz pkg of 30 Fudge Stripe cookies = $1.99 on sale ($2.77/lb)
1 box of 12 - 1.4 oz bags of mini Fudge Stripe cookies (16.8oz total) =$4.00 if bought on sale ($3.81/lb)
**In addition to the cost savings per pound on the cookies, I'll save even more because I'll pack 2 cookies in each bag, which will get me 15 snacks out of that 11.5 oz package.

You'll save money if you package your own snacks.  But you'll save time as well if you package a bunch of snacks at once.  Loading chips into ziploc bags every night can get old really fast.  First you get out the sandwich bags, then the chips.  Load up the bags, wash your hands because they got greasy from the chips, zip the bags shut, put away the chips, and repeat again the next night.  But if you fill a lot of bags at the same time, you only have to take everything out once.  And you can probably throw away the chip bag when you're finished rather than putting it back in the cupboard. 

Packaging up snacks is something even the littlest kids can help with.  If I'm organized enough to get everyone together to help, my 2 1/2 year old daughter can open the ziploc bags for my older three kids to load chips, Keebler cookies, trail mix, miniature rice cakes, etc into the bags.  I zip them shut and sort them into piles.

And yes, I realize there are exceptions to everything.  If you shop the deep-discount stores, sometimes you can find lunch snacks past their "sell by" date for 10 cents/snack.  Yup, that's probably cheaper than packaging them up yourself! 

Sometimes it's worth the convenience to buy the individually-packaged snacks.  I buy them as a treat for vacation, or when it's our turn to provide the soccer snack...only if they're on sale, right?!?  But as a rule, we spend a little time to save a lot of money by packaging our own snacks.

Do you package your own snacks?  What are your ideas for packing better lunches for less money?

Looking for more ways to Save Money in the Kitchen?  Check out the previous articles in this series here.


  1. I do the same with homemade cookies and brownies. A box of brownie mix makes a lot of brownies compared to the couple you get in the box of little Debbie snacks. You can always add some m & m ' s to make them just as appealing. I cut and wrap and then freeze them for a quick grab in the morning.

    1. Great idea! I do that sometimes too but forgot to mention that in the post. That's why I love comments :)

  2. Great tip, Lisa. I'm curious where you store all the little packages. (Please reply via email in case I forget to check back.)

    1. Hi Carrie - I'll reply in a comment so that everyone can see it, and then I'll copy the comment into an email. I try to package up 4-5 different snack items in one session. I have two "bins" in my pantry (a shoebox and a clear plastic rectangle container) that the snacks go into. We used to have one bin for salty snacks and one bin for sweet snacks, but lately it's morphed into one bin of healthy snacks and one bin of junk-food-type snacks. When I pack lunches, I just grab one snack out of each bin for everyone. As you might guess, not all of the nicely packaged snacks will fit into those small bins. I have an "overflow" basket on my stockpile shelves, so about once a week I restock the bins in the pantry. I hope this helps!

  3. I totally do this same thing! It saves so much time and makes it easier for the kids to help me make lunches! Although I only do like a week at a time (usually on Sunday nights) I feel like to go through a lot of ziplock bags I am curious to know what you consider a good price for snack or sandwich bags?? I don't mind the money spent because I feel like I save enough on other things around the kitchen but....thanks for sharing!!

    1. Meijer brand bags (box of 50) go on sale for 90 cents quite frequently. If I'm completely out, I'll pick them up at that price. But if you clip coupons and watch sales, you can get the Ziploc ones (100 pk) on sale for $2.00 and use a $1.00 off two Ziploc products, making them $1.50 for 100. (I usually only have 1 or 2 coupons, so could only pick up 2-4 boxes at that price). I was happy with this price until I became a Costco member. Ziploc bags regularly appear in the Costco coupon books, and the price (with the coupon) comes out to about $1.35-$1.40 per 100 bags. They come in packs of 480 (snack bags) and 500 (sandwich bags), so I don't run out of cheaply-purchased bags too quickly...which means that I hardly ever buy sandwich or snack bags at 90 cents per 50 anymore. Watch for more information about Costco next week. Thanks for commenting!