I had a realization the other day: I almost never eat snacks*, and I think that's a big part of how I save money on groceries and stay healthy.
I've found that just eating 3 normal meals throughout the day fills me up enough so that I don't actually need snacks. Just an observation about my life and maybe a place where you can look at cutting your spending. If you find that you're spending a lot of money on your grocery bill, and you find that a big chunk of it is pre-made/pre-packaged snacks (granola bars, individual sized yogurt, nuts, crackers, etc), pay attention to WHY you're getting those foods and see if you can change your habits to cut down on those.
If you always need a snack before you go to your grad school night class, could you try packing a dinner (bring it to work with you to stash in the fridge) and eating that before going to class? Or maybe on those days that you have class, make a bigger than normal lunch and have half at lunch and then half later in the afternoon to keep you full until you get home from class, when you can have a late dinner.
If you always need a mid-morning snack, maybe your breakfast isn't big enough. Try making bigger breakfasts that will keep you full for longer. (my current favorite breakfast food for work days is Breakfast Burritos- SO good and they keep me full all morning, esp when we bulk them up with red and green peppers and fried potatoes)
This one is my personal downfall: I come home from work and start raiding the cabinets because I'm tired from work and tired from commuting, and also because I want to postpone my workout :) Instead of eating snacks I just need to suck it up and do my workout, which means I can start making dinner sooner, and then I can have a real meal rather than snacks.
What if I really do NEED a snack?
Some days I notice that I am EXTRA hungry. When this happens, I usually can make do with whatever we have in the house. Things like a bowl of cereal, carrots with peanut butter, toast, or a spoonful of straight peanut butter (we recently discovered natural PB with just peanuts, omg, SO good) are the stuff I snack on if I am really hungry. It's very rare that I specifically buy snack foods. We do, however, buy ice cream- oh and I always have some form of chocolate to go in my lunch box- it helps the day go by ;)
Living life like this is a bit harder, I will admit. Some nights I get VERY annoyed trying to wrangle something together for breakfast or lunch for work the next day. But those extra 5 or 10 minutes finding food is ALWAYS worth it. For example, last night I was prepping our breakfasts and lunches and realized that we only had 1 breakfast burrito left. I gave that to Mike (no, I'm not really that selfless- it was one of the burritos without cheese in it so I didn't really want it haha) and then had to decide what to make for my breakfast. I settled on cereal to go- cereal in a tupperware container, milk in a small mason jar. It took me a few minutes to make the cereal, and I probably could have saved time if I had a granola bar or individual sized yogurt that I could just grab and throw in my lunch. But that's ok- I'm willing to spend the extra 3-5 minutes to prep my breakfast in the absence of those items.
Another thing that I will admit: sometimes I REEEEALLY want a traditional snack food and then I get irrationally angry that we don't stock anything in the house like that. But then I eat a spoonful of peanut butter with chocolate syrup and mostly get over my anger.
I was NOT always like this.
I remember I used to buy granola bars, nuts, individual yogurts, crackers, string cheese, etc almost every week. I just assumed that I needed a mid-morning snack to get me through the day until lunch, or I needed an after-work snack. But it turns out, if I just eat better meals, I don't need those snacks!
I've basically been forced to discover that I don't require snacks throughout the day :) Mike never really snacks (yes, he's a robot, I am aware) so by living with him I've just gradually shifted my eating habits to align with his. He eats 3 real meals so I might as well eat 3 real meals too. And because of that, I don't get hungry at other times in the day, which means I don't need to buy snacks.
It's quite insane how many snack foods there are in the grocery store, and how much those can drive up your grocery bill. Start paying attention to how many snack foods you're buying and see if you can cut down on those at all!**
* Key word = ALMOST... except for the times we buy Tostitos Lime chips for taco salads and devour the entire bag in less than 24 hours.. no really, less than 24 hours. EVERY.TIME.
** Unless you are my mom, because I enjoy raiding your cabinets to find delicious trader joe's snacks and lime cookies when I come over. Don't cut down your snack supply!!! ;)
Do you keep snack foods at home?