Frugal Snack Ideas

Who doesn’t like to snack? My worst time is in the morning, between breakfast and lunch, because I’m sitting at the kitchen table with my kids doing school work and the fridge and pantry are each only a few steps away, ha, ha! Calories and budget are always a concern, though. Snacks add up big-time when ten people are snacking several times every day.

So I’ve come up with a list of frugal snacks that are both cheap and mostly nutritious.

Pickled Eggs

I typically store them in an old gallon-sized pickle jar. I put the 2 dozen eggs in there, packed pretty tightly, add a cup of Bragg’s vinegar, toss in some peppercorns, a couple of garlic cloves, a whole sauteed onion, 1T. salt,  3 bay leavesand some dill, then fill it with water until the eggs are covered (about a cup) and seal the jar.

These are the best frugal snack for protein junkies. Whenever I want a snack, I just pop open the jar and grab an egg. The peppercorns and garlic and dill gently flavor the eggs. 

This mix allows the eggs to store quite nicely for at least a week in the fridge, and the cost adds up to about $0.20 per egg, which is far cheaper, more filling and more nutritious than a package of fruit snacks or fishy crackers.


Did you know popcorn is a nutritious snack when it’s made with good-for-you fats like coconut oil and smothered in  butter? We like to air-pop it, then flavor it with yummy add-ins like raw honey, melted along with the butter, which gives it a kettle corn flavor, or by adding a dash of cayenne pepper and 1 tsp. of chili powder as you salt it. You can even give it an extra boost of nutrients by shaking some nutritional yeast on it, which tastes a little cheesy and is so yummy! 

I purchase 2lb bags of popcorn kernels at Walmart for $1.29 per bag. We make popcorn in large quantities and often, and a 2lb bag still lasts me for a couple of months, making popcorn, even with high-quality butter, less than 20 cents per serving. Snacks don’t get more frugal than that!

Tortilla chips

Tortilla chips cost less than potato chips, but are still pricey considering that my kids are never satisfied with what the package deems a serving. So we buy a huge stack of corn tortillas from Walmart that only costs seven cents per tortilla and make our own, healthier frugal snack!

Spritz a little lime juice, then sprinkle chili powder and salt over inexpensive corn tortillas, cut across the diameter into 8 triangular pieces, spread on a baking sheet and bake to golden crisp perfection. These are so yummy and cost far less than pre-made ones from the store. I figure my kids can eat a portion that satisfies them for about 20 cents.

7 layer dip

If you want a more filling snack, or even something easy and snack-y to serve in place of a meal, make a 7 layer dip to serve with your homemade tortilla chips. In a 9 x 13 dish, spread 1 can of refried beans mixed with a few spoonfuls of salsa to thin them and make them more spreadable.

Next, spread a thin layer of salsa over the beans, followed by a layer of sour cream, 16 oz. mixed with 1 T. garlic powder, 1 T. chili powder, and 1 T. salt. Next, you would add a layer of guacamole, but I usually skip it because it would increase the price of the dip substantially, and the dip is good without it. I do add guacamole, though, when avocados are in season and I can make my own for pretty cheap, or for special occasions.

Finally, spread a layer of cheddar cheese and sprinkle with olives, diced tomatoes or whatever you have on hand. It’s a pretty big, thick dish of dip and readily serves 20 people or more. What a great frugal snack!

Potato Chips

Speaking of potato chips, they are on of the nation’s most popular snacks. Thankfully, they’re also a very frugal snack! We use russet potatoes, which average about 20 cents per pound, and one potato makes a lot of chips. The large bags you buy at the store are only about 13 oz, less than a pound, so you get a similar yield from 2 small potatoes.

Homemade ones are also healthier. We slice ours thin in a food processor, then soak them in a large bowl of water and 1 tsp of salt for 10-15 minutes. This helps to remove the excess moisture from the potatoes – helping it to crisp better. Remove them from the water bowl onto a dish towel and pat them totally dry.

Next, spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet greased with coconut oil. We then brush melted coconut oil over the top, salt them, and bake until crispy and browned to your liking. I like mine pretty brown and hubby likes them less so. Make several baking sheets, because they will go fast!

My kids especially love potato chips made with sweet potatoes.

Homemade Granola

Granola is yummy mixed into yogurt, as cereal with milk on top, or just plain out of the bag, as if you were eating trail mix. It is the perfect frugal snack idea!

My recipe is less sweet, and I soak my grains overnight to reduce the phytic acid, so it’s more nutritious than most. I make a gigantic batch and store it in my pantry in a 5 gallon bucket, but I’m giving you a much-reduced recipe.

Fill a large mixing bowl with 6 c. assorted grains. I use 7-grain rolled cereal, which I buy in 50lb sacks from Honeyville Grain. You will want to find it someplace local, however, for the best price. The mix consists of rolled Hard Red Wheat, Oat Groats, Triticale, Barley, Rye, Soft White Wheat, Spelt, and non-rolled sunflower seeds.

In a stockpot, mix 1 c. raw honey, 1 c. blackstrap molasses, 1/2 c. coconut oil and 1 c. water. Heat and mix together, then pour over the grain and mix it until all of the grains are wet. If you like it sweeter, add more honey, or even 1/2 c. sucanat. 

Cover the mixing bowl and set aside to soak for at least 24 hours. After soaking, spread the mixture about an inch thick over a baking sheet greased with coconut oil, then bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes, remove from oven and stir with a spatula, return to oven and bake another 15 minutes. After cooling, it should feel pretty dry. You don’t want lots of moisture or your granola could mold. 

Sometimes I add dried fruit, nuts and coconut to the mixture after baking, but most of the time I don’t. It still tastes great and is much cheaper to leave them out.

Homemade milkshakes (taste like a Wendy’s frosty)

I’ll bet you’ve seen the copycat frosty recipes going around. Well, mine is cheaper AND easier, and the ingredients are somewhat less objectionable, though not completely. You wouldn’t want to live entirely on these, but they won’t hurt you on occasion.

You have to have a good blender, though. Don’t try this with a cheap blender because you might break it trying to blend the ice. Just fill your blender to the 2 quart line with ice, add about 1 c. whole milk, 1/2 c. chocolate-flavored powdered milk, blend and serve.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

These were my absolute favorite snack until I learned I had Hashimoto’s and decided to go gluten free to lessen negative symptoms. They are still my families favorite snack, so we just use the healthiest recipe we can find. I can make a large batch (6 dozen cookies) for around $5, making each cookie less than 7 cents, even using the best ingredients. With a glass of raw milk, a chocolate chip cookie or two isn’t too bad for you. They are my children’s favorite frugal snack!

Homemade roll with butter

I know that homemade breads are kind of intimidating, but just take that leap, try them a couple of times, learn the tricks and you will never go back. All homebaked goods are fantastic, frugal snack ideas. I like to make a HUGE batch of crescent rolls for Sunday dinner and put the extra away in the pantry to use as snacks. A soft, buttery roll costs less than 5 cents each to make, so even spread with butter, a couple of them will be under the target 20 cent price.


You can often find in-season fruit for great prices, especially if you grow it yourself or find a u-pick farm. Not only is it a great frugal snack, but nothing beats the taste and convenience of freshly picked, tree-ripened fruit! If you don’t have any fruit trees, plant as many as your space will allow–they will pay you back tenfold and dwarf fruit trees can bear as soon as the year after planting.

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