33 healthy and cheap snack ideas on a friendly budget

By Penelope Henderson, MSc, RNutr/ 02/01/2023
cheap and healthy snack ideas

With food costs the highest they have been, we are all looking for ways to save money on food. Healthy and cheap snack ideas will help not only save you some money but help you to be healthier too.

People in the UK have on average 2 or more snacks a day accounting on average around 20 – 25% of energy intake (1). Snacks are especially important for young kids who have little tummies so they can fuel themselves throughout the day. 

This blog explores 33 healthy and cheap snack ideas for children and adults alike. By using these ideas you can ensure your giving your family a boost in nutrition.

What is considered a snack?

A snack is a small amount of foods eaten between meals. Snacks can be ready made (shop bought) or homemade. 

What is the healthiest thing to snack on?

There is no one such food that is the healthiest to snack on. Its best to have a variety of different snacks from day to day to ensure your getting the right nutrition. 

However ready made snacks like crisps and biscuits use less healthy ingredients like added fats and sugars.  Whereas homemade snacks using wholefoods with little processing are usually healthier. 

Lots of ideas in this blog include fruit and vegetables as this is an easy way to get your 5 day. 

What makes up a healthy snack

A healthy snack is made up of typically 3 food groups to ensure your getting a filling and nutritious and tasty snack. These include:

  1. Starchy food such as bread, pasta, crackers
  2. Fruit, vegetable or mixture of both
  3. Dairy or protein such as cheese, yoghurt, meat, fish

Tips for healthy snacking

  • Use tinned fruit in natural juice if fresh fruit is too expensive
  • Buy reduced fat hard cheese for adults for less saturated fat.
  • Use no added salt nut butters as these contain no salt.
  • Use plain unsweetened yoghurt to avoid added sugar or sweeteners
  • Instead of adding salt, try adding dried herbs and spices to give flavour.
  • Eat a variety of white and wholegrain to get extra fibre. Breads can be made with a variety of grains like wheat, rye, oatmeal and added seeds too.
  • Keep it simple using foods that require little preparation so vegetables that can be eaten raw can be chopped and put in the fridge for a few days and taken out when required. 

How do I snack on a budget?

What can I make for a small snack?

Snacks should be mini portions or mini meals for kids so not large portions. If you think about this and managing portions then you won’t overeat or waste food.

You could pre-portion snacks into bags if you wanted to manage your budget so your sticking to this and reduce the chance of eating too much.

The cheap and healthy snack ideas below can be used as a small snack – just make them smaller in size. If your not sure about portion sizes for children then I have created a portion size guide for 1 – 4 years and 5 – 11 years. You may like to check it out here.

healthy and cheap snack ideas

Most of these are easy to prepare, quick and portable. They could be used at home, after school or as a bedtime snack.

1. Plain yoghurt – no added sugar

Unsweetened plain yoghurt is high in calcium and protein and can be used in lots of different ways. Try mixing into a smoothie or with some cereal. Or simply serve with some stewed or fruit on top. Another way is to add it to fruit and freeze in a lolly mould.

You can also get live yogurt which contains lots of friendly bacteria so its good for your gut!

2. Hummus

Ready made hummus contain chickpeas which are high in protein and fibre. It can be used as a dip or spread on some toast or bread of choice.

3. Hard Cheese

Hard cheese such as cheddar is a great source of calcium and protein. You can cut it into a small cube or strips to accompany some bread or crackers and veggies. Or you can melt it on top of crumpets or toast.

4. Cottage cheese

A great source of calcium and protein. Perfect for younger children as no added salt. You can add it to a sandwich or mix it into some veggies to make a creamy dip.

5. Eggs

Eggs can be hard or soft boiled as a healthy, nutrient dense snack. They can be chopped into slices and eaten with bread or eaten as a dippy egg. If the kids are not so keen on the taste of eggs make them into eggy bread.

6. Apples

Apples are a great source of fibre and antioxidants. They work really well with nut butters or cheese.

7. Grapes

Grapes of different colours, white and black contain antioxidants and are quite cheap. Try them frozen for a change!

8. Bananas

Are very versatile. You can chop them up and put them in smoothies, on toast, on top of cereal or mixed into pancakes.

9. Oranges

Orange segments make a quick snack with some cream cheese and pancakes or bread.

10. Cucumber

Cucumber sticks are made for dipping into pates, dips or yoghurt like tzaki

11. Celery

Celery sticks work well with some cream cheese, cottage cheese or cheese spread. They are also great for dipping.

12. Tomatoes

There are lots of varieties of tomatoes but the smaller cherry variety are quick to prepare as they only need washing. Use them to accompany dips and pates or on a pasta salad. For kids pop them on top of cheese on toast or pitta bread so they are like mini pizza.

13. Carrots

Raw carrots sticks are child friendly and cheap. Full of vitamin A and fibre. Perfect with a dip or grated into a salad.

14. Peppers

Sweet peppers are full of vitamin C and perfect for on the go. Cut into strips and serve with a small salad, hummous or dip.

15. Radishes

Are rich in calcium and potassium. They are crunchy, cheap and great for serving with cheese or a dip.

16. Nut butters

Nut butters like peanut, almond or cashew make a healthy fats, protein and fibre rich snack alongside some toast or starchy base. Use no added salt varieties for young children. 

They can also be stirred into pancakes, smoothies and work well with bananas or apples.

17. Bread

Bread is cheap and makes a great base for toppings or cut into strips for dipping. Many types are available too like seeded and different grains like rye and oatmeal. So mix it up and included some variety to ensure a healthy balanced diet.

18. Crumpets

Crumpets come as plain or seeded and make a great snack with some cheese, cream cheese, cottage cheese or cut into pieces with some pate and raw veggies.

19. Oatcakes

Makes for an alternative to wheat as they contain oats which are high in fibre. 

20. Water biscuits

Water biscuits like crackers are made without fat and are perfect for kids who like their crunchy snacks. Try with your favourtie topping and veggies or fruit to go with it.

21. Oats/oatmeal

Porridge oats can be made into porridge or overnight oats make a great snack not just for breakfast. 

22. Popcorn

Use plain popcorn if possible and avoid the butter coated/sugar varieties. Therefore if you make your own popcorn it is healthier and much cheaper than ready made. Its high in fibre and filling – kids are sure to love it!

You could try adding some cinnamon, garlic powder, paprika, or nutritional yeast.

23. Fruit bread/teacake

These are low in sugar but contain dried fruits for sweetness. Fruit bread or teacakes make a great snack buttered.

24. Wraps

White, brown or half and half for the fibre. They make a fun snack filled and rolled. Fillings include cheese, ham, salad, raw veggies. 

25. Tinned fish (sardines/tuna)

Oily fish like sardines or tuna is high in omega 3 fatty acids, which is needed for brain development. Served on toast or made into a pate make a super tasty and healthy snack. 

Healthy homemade cheap snack ideas for kids

26. Roasted chickpeas

Simply roast with some olive oil and paprika or just oil for 10mins.

27. Trail mix (nuts, seeds, pretzels, dried fruit)

Put a mix of your favourite nuts, seeds and dried fruit into a small tub. This makes a great snack for on the go.

28. Fishy toast topper like tinned sardine or tuna 

29. Veggie dippers

This recipe uses carrots, peppers, courgette but you can use others that can be cut into strips for dipping. 

30. Sweet Potato wedges

Simply chop some sweet potatoes into wedges, whatever shape you like and mix in some oil and roast for 30 mins or until crispy. Serve with a creamy dip. 

31. Savoury muffins or buns

Pea and courgette buns

32. Sweet muffins or buns

Things like banana bread or carrot loaf

33. Cheese and chive scones


If your lost for inspiration and feeling fed up of the same snacks I have shared 33 healthy and cheap snack ideas for the whole family. Many are easy to prepare for snacking at home or away. 

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Author Penelope Henderson

Hi I’m Penelope Henderson RNutr Registered Nutritionist specialising in children’s nutrition and responsive feeding therapy.

I am a mum of 2, with over 15 years of experience in nutrition. I support parents to feel confident in how and what to feed their child. I hope you find my recipes and nutrition posts useful, so you can enjoy stress free cooking and mealtimes.

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