Lunchbox Rescue: Easy, Cheap and Healthy DIY Trail Mix

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easy trail mix for lunchbox snacks
Easy DIY Trail Mix Snack

Looking for an easy lunchbox snack to satisfy hungry kids?

(Or even hungry adults?)

I’m always on the lookout for new snacks to feed my voracious hoard.

Which brings me to trail mix.

Trail mix is an easy, infinitely variable high energy snack.

You can buy cute little packets of trail mix from the supermarket (or so-called “clean” or “Paleo” ones from the health food store), but they are expensive and use a lot of plastic waste.

Or you can whip up a batch of trail mix in just a few minutes and save a whole lot of money.

When you make DIY trail mix, not only do you save money, you can adjust the ingredients to suit your tastes. In fact, you can just use what you already have in the pantry – easy snack, no extra money spent.

I happened to have some dried mulberries that a friend gave me, so they went into our current trail mix (pictured).

To save money on ingredients, you can buy them cheaply in bulk from Aldi or keep an eye on the supermarket catalogue specials and stock up when ingredients go half price.

Alternatively, if you prefer to go no-plastic, you can get all the ingredients you need from the bulk bins at Coles or a bulk-food store.

Either way, you have ingredients on hand to quickly whip up a batch whenever you need.

[Further Reading: 6 Things to Do on Sunday to Start the Week off Right.]

There are ingredient ideas below, but because trail mix is so flexible, you can put in whatever you like.

Nut-free policy?

Swap out the nuts with seeds and/or whole grains.

Looking for something ultra-healthy?

Leave out the optional ‘fun’ extras.

A quick note on healthy and serving size: nuts and dried fruit are high-energy (read calorie-dense) foods, so unless you’re actually hiking, a little goes a long way.

About ¼ of a cup is a good serving size. Pre-measuring out servings can help you stick to a healthy serving size, and it means you have a ready-made snack to grab and go when you’re in a hurry.

For packing, we have little containers that go in the kid’s lunch boxes, which make perfect snack-size.

A convenient waste-free alternative is reusable snack bags.

[Further Reading: Make Packing a Healthy Lunch Easy.]

Trail Mix Ingredients

Pick and choose the ingredients that best suit your tastes, budget, what’s on sale and what you have on hand.

Nuts

Leave these out if your school has a nut-free policy. The healthiest nuts are raw and unsalted and without additives like oil or sugar.

  • Cashews
  • Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Walnuts
  • Pistachios
  • macadamias

Seeds

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Shredded Coconut

Dried Fruit

Sugar is concentrated in dried fruit, so a little goes a long way. Look for dried fruit with no added sugar.There are a whole variety of dried fruits available, here are just a few ideas:

  • Banana chips
  • Freeze dried berries
  • Sultanas
  • Diced dried apricots
  • Dried apple
  • Diced dried mango
  • Dried pineapple chunks

Grains

  • Whole grain Cereal / Muesli / Granola (I found quinoa flake cereal  at half price – it’s a nice addition)
  • Pretzels
  • Small wholemeal crackers
  • Popcorn
  • Puffed rice

Optional Healthy Extras

Some fun optional additions. Just add a little:

  • Soy Crisps
  • Vege Chips
  • Edamame
  • Dried peas
  • Cinnamon
  • Curry powder (for older kids and adults)

Optional Sweet-Treat Extras

Because the salty-sweet combo tastes amazing.

  • Dark Choc chips/carob buds/cocoa nibs (I found these cheap at Aldi)
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Yoghurt covered raisins

Depending on what you put in your trail mix, it also makes a nice yoghurt topper. In the picture below I used up the leftover bits (the kids devoured the banana chips and pretzels first) on plain yoghurt with some berries for extra deliciousness.

yoghurt topped with frozen berries and trail mix

There is a huge variety of snack options in supermarket these days, but most of them are unhealthy, expensive or come with loads of plastic. Create your own healthy DIY trail mix snack based on what you like to eat and save money.

Looking for more snack ideas? Try:

trail mix ideas

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2 Comments

  1. Thanks for this article. I have just pulled out my dehydrator that I had almost forgotten and was looking for ideas on how to use any fruit I processed. I just needed some inspiration and it should make interesting snacks ahead.