Desserts and Snacks for the Whole Family

Snacking can get expensive. It's difficult finding nutritious and easy snacks that aren't also packed with sugar while trying to stay on a budget. Making snacks at home can sound daunting but, when you consider the worry and waste of time and energy spent scanning food labels and price tags, this two-fold beneficial solution is worthy of taking a good, long look at.

What's in Your Snack?

First, you know exactly what goes into making those snacks. You don't have to worry about strange fillers, too much sugar, or allergens sneaking their way into your family's diet. Especially when it comes to sneaky ingredients like soy (commonly used as a filler in lunch meats), MSG (a common ingredient in chips, jerky, and dressings), or HFCS (think jams, cereal, fruit snacks, yogurt; almost everything), having to scan package labels for certain ingredients can be time consuming and frustrating.

Bulky Savings

Second, by making snack foods in bulk and either freezing, dry storing, or vacuum packing them, you can save a lot on both time and cost.

Here are several ideas and recipes you can use to satisfy your family's snacking urges while also satisfying the household budget.

Getting Your Fruits and Vegetables

According to the CDC, Americans are still not getting enough fruits and vegetables in their diets. You can help fill the gap for your family by whipping up snacks that center on fruits or vegetables.

Sweets & Fruits

Fruits are generally great snack items on their own, but sometimes they need a little help to boost their appeal.

Take this bite-sized apple pie recipe, for example. Small enough to bake a lot of and freeze (just thaw or microwave to enjoy), you can use prepackaged dough or make your own with known, allergen-free ingredients. 

HINT: If you're not a fan of apple, try the recipe and substitute another fruit--think pear, peach, or cherry--or even use a sweet vegetable like a slice of sweet potato or rhubarb. Get creative!

Or, pull out your favorite banana bread recipe and give it a twist. Instead of baking a loaf, bake banana bread muffins. Or you can get even smaller and bake banana bread sticks: crunchier versions of the traditional classic that can be kept in a cookie jar.

Another simple change on a traditional favorite is to take a cheesecake recipe and, again, use a muffin tin for personal-sized cheesecakes or convert them into bars that are easy to transport and bag. Add in extras--like berries or protein-rich nuts--for additional flavor.

Finally, nothing says "easy snack" like a good cookie. You can give the plain sugar cookie a healthy twist by substituting yogurt, like in this sugar cookie recipe, and then decorate as you wish.

Savory Snacking

Chips are an excellent snacking food but they're always better with dips and salsas!

Salsa is great as a snack because it's healthful, simple, and keeps well for long periods of time. All you need are a few ingredients and a few mason jars for refrigerator storage and you'll have a fresh vegetable-based snack ready to dip into at a moment's notice for months.

Salsa's best friend is guacamole, so take an easy guacamole recipe and store it like you would salsa--refrigerated and in an airtight container--to have ready when needed.

TIP: To soften unripened avocados, wrap them tightly in foil and bake at a low 250*F, checking for softness at intervals of 15 minutes. When soft enough, remove and mash to make perfectly creamy guacamole.

Creative Snacking

Almost any snack you buy in the store can be easily replicated in the home. Granola bars, cookies, fruit snacks, chips, and dips are simple to make and can also be made to last.

All it takes is a little creativity to supply your whole family with an abundance of desserts and snacks--or dessert snacks!--that their stomachs (and your wallet) will be proud of.