Inexpensive Summer Snacks for the Neighborhood

save money during summer

It’s summertime and that means that the kids are out of school. And they’re hungry. If you live in a neighborhood where the kids play together all day long, you’ve probably found yourself facing a horde of hungry kids. Even when practicing ways to save money on food, feeding a lot of kids can get expensive, though, and three months of it can do a number on your budget. However, there are ways to reduce the expense yet still provide for the hungry horde. Here are some ideas for some cheap snacks and drinks, as well a couple of additional strategies for dealing with lots of hungry kids.


Preventative repackaging

If you buy a big bag of chips, it’s likely cheaper than pre-packaged individual serving bags. At least until the kids get hold of it and devour the whole thing in one afternoon. Instead, buy your big bag of snacks and then break the big bag down into baggies. When the kids show up, hand each kid their own baggie and keep the rest locked away for the next time.

Air Popped Popcorn

This is cheap and easy. It’s filling, too.

Generic Snacks

Generic or store brand snacks are almost always cheaper than the name brands. If you’re worried about looking “cheap,” dump the generic snacks into a big bowl or put them in baggies. Chances are no one will know the difference.

Simple Homemade Snacks

Homemade goodies are cheaper than store-bought items. You don’t have to bake from scratch. Save time and buy a big box of brownie mix or cookie mix. It will take only a few minutes to mix the ingredients and throw the pan in the oven, yet it’s a lot cheaper than buying from the bakery or buying name brand cookies.

Popsicles / Ice Tubes

I remember these fondly from my own childhood. Popsicles and those tubes of liquid syrup that you freeze to make an icy pop are inexpensive and often come in large packages. Ice pops in particular come in packages of up to a hundred for just a few dollars. One box might last most of the summer.

Shop Beyond the Grocery Store

Try your local dollar store or Target’s Dollar Spot. Both frequently have snack crackers or animal crackers for low prices. Just make sure that the package size is a good value when compared to your grocery store’s price.

Instant Pudding

This is quick and cheap and can be ready in as little as five minutes. If you make it ahead of time, you can chill it in the fridge for a hot day treat.

Bulk Bin Items

You can buy trail mix, granola, dried fruit, seeds, and snack mixes from the bulk bins that are often cheaper than their boxed counterparts. Just be aware that there can be some sanitation risks with these depending how they are set up.

Peanut Butter Snacks

Peanut butter and generic saltines. Filling and cheap.


One of the cheapest “healthy” options.


These tend to be the cheapest snacks on the shelf and are usually available in huge bags.

Homemade Snack Mixes

It doesn’t take much effort to combine some cereal and other snack items into a big bowl and set it out for the kids.

Buy Bulk

If you must have name brands or individually packaged snacks like Fruit Roll Ups, name brand popsicles, individually packaged snacks, or name brand chips or crackers, buy in bulk from a warehouse club. Prices there are usually better than a regular store, but check to be sure because a good sale can close the gap.

Look for Sales and Coupons

During the summer these are usually plentiful and become more so as back-to-school sales ramp up. Late in the summer, back to school sales are a great source for individually packaged snacks as stores aim toward the lunchbox crowd.

Get Contributions

If your home is “the house” where everyone seems to be all the time, you might consider asking other parents to chip in a set amount for snacks or to bring over some snack options that they’ve bought. You’re feeding their kids, after all, so it’s only fair that they share the burden.


Bottled water, canned soda, bottled juices, juice boxes, and pouches are expensive. Stick with drink mixes and water from the tap.


The cheapest option. Don’t buy bottled water. Invest in a sports cooler with a dispenser, get some paper cups and set it all outside.


Tea can be made from a powdered mix or you can brew it yourself. Either way is cheaper than bottled teas.

Generic Sodas

Name brand soda is pricey, particularly if you buy canned. Stick with generic soda. Many offer a 3-liter option. If you have to buy canned, buy store brands.

Kool-Aid, Lemonade and Gatorade

You can buy all of these as powdered mixes that you can easily make in a big cooler. Much cheaper than juice boxes or individual bottles.

You don’t have to spend a fortune to feed the neighborhood kids over the summer. You just have to make smart choices and plan ahead a little bit. And remember: If the kids don’t like what you’re serving, they can always go home.

(Photo courtesy of Herkie)

This entry was posted in Budgeting, Food / Groceries, Frugal, Holidays, Personal Finance, Saving Money, Shopping and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Inexpensive Summer Snacks for the Neighborhood

  1. Ivana says:

    Try to think of healthy and tasty options. Many things are simple to make but also nutritious: fresh cut vegetables with a dip, hummus with pita bread, cherry tomatoes (especially if you grow your own!). Drinks: don’t forget water with citrus slices, or fruit and/or vegetable juices. These can be homemade, healthy, but also tasty!

  2. jeane says:

    That was indeed a brilliant page. I love those inexpensive summer snack ideas. Cool! I love making pretzel and popcorn for the kids which they really love. Great job!

  3. briann_littleton says:

    When making lemonade from the canned frozen concentrate, using the proportions on the can it comes out tasting too sweet for me. What I do is pour the concentrate into a gallon jug and then fill it with tap water to an inch below the neck. Shake well and pour into two half gallon jugs to mmake for easier handling. I think it turns out to be a more refreshing drink and it’s cheaper!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *