Save Money and the Planet With These Low-Impact Back-to-School Snacks

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Make healthy snacking the least stressful part of the school year, both for yourself and for Mother Earth. Here are some of the most environmentally friendly back-to-school snacks for any grade or age (that includes you, too).

Budget Friendly Low-Impact Snack Ideas

Low-cost, healthy, and low-impact? Yes, these snacks really do exist.

Fruit Salads

In addition to being delicious, apples, melons, and berries are an outstanding source of vitamins, potassium, and fiber. Dive into a bowlful of fruits augmented with healthy additions like walnuts, herbs, and pecans. No dressing required.

Fruit salads are easily made in advance and store well in the freezer. And if your snack doesn’t get eaten, repurpose it into a superfood smoothie.

Trail Mix Granola

Already have some stale trail mix on hand? Repurpose the bag with a few extra additions — saving money and reducing waste in the process. 

You can make trail mix granola bars in the oven, or turn leftovers into trail mix cookies for a sweet and savory treat (two cups of trail mix is all you need). If you can’t seem to pick between the two, why not make both?

Veggie Bags

As ordinary as they are, vegetables offer a great way to snack lean and green. Make them look colorful in a special container, or simply store them pre-washed in the fridge. You might want to lean on eco friendly snack packaging, including glass, bamboo, or stainless steel.

According to recent resources, the cheapest vegetables per pound are:

  • Cauliflower

  • Carrots

  • Celery

  • Tomatoes

  • Broccoli

  • Peppers

If your vegetables go stale, no worries. Compost them (or use a community composter), or turn them into vegetable broth that can be stored in the freezer. 

Homemade Popcorn

Air-popped popcorn is one of the cheapest and healthiest snacks you can make. Composed of high fiber whole grains, sprinkle a little salt to make the flavor pop. 

If you want to get creative, you can change up your toppings to match the season. Consider recipes like butter, chocolate peanut butter, and even caramel corn.

Kale Chips

While they’re best eaten within seven days, kale chips are a great way to use up your greens before they go bad. Wrap these snacks in paper packaging (if possible), or focus on reusable containers like glass. Any leftovers can be safely composted outside.

Pumpkin Seeds

If you’re already planning on making something with pumpkin, you might as well go the extra mile by repurposing the seeds. This is an extremely low-cost snack — after all, pumpkin seeds are “free” with every purchase. Throw them together in 10 minutes or less with an air fryer, or use your oven to bake them to perfection.

Saving money and the planet with zero-waste shopping

As you shop with your health and budget in mind, be sure to reduce waste as much as possible by spending less, eating healthier, and choosing the best days to shop.

Shop Generic

Name brand items generally cost more than their store brand alternatives with prices sometimes 30% higher. In many cases, branded foods steal dollars that could be used on other things, including additional snacks.

It’s usually better to turn to generic selections, especially when it comes to packaged foods.

If you need to purchase name-brand items for specific reasons (ingredients, allergies, etc.), be sure to plan in advance.

Visit on Wednesdays or Thursdays

Research shows that Wednesdays and Thursdays are the cheapest days to finish your grocery shopping. Staple products like bread get marked down by 2%, while Thursdays are better for sourcing cheaper snacks.

Pair your visits with coupons, downloadable store savings, or cashback apps like Ibotta to reduce as much waste as possible.

Choose Seasonal Shopping

In-season fruits and vegetables always cost less. By planning your snack schedule around harvest time, you’ll be eating healthier, reducing surplus, and saving money.

The SNAP-Ed provides a comprehensive resource with everything currently in-season, as well as recipes and other helpful information.

Tags: Healthy Eating, Motherhood, parenting, Tweens/Teens

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Written By

Meagan Shelley

Meagan is a professional writer in VA who specializes in content marketing. See Full Bio

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