Streamlining summer snacking with pretend money

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Now that school is out, the snacking can be out of control!  I had this idea last year, and wanted to share how we control that boredom snacking around here.  First, I printed some fake money that I found online here. I told the kids that at the beginning of the week they get 5 $1’s and 5 $5’s.  They can use it as they’d like, but ideally they would spend a $1 and a $5 bill each day. They can use it anytime in the day, but I’ve encouraged snack time to be around 10am and 3pm–as it usually is when they are in school.

Tips for helping the kids not overeat in the summer

summer snacking


This is our stash of $1 dollar items.  Generally crackers, yogurt, pretzels.  Not quite healthy snacks, but snacks of the lighter fair.

I let them each pick a non healthy snack that they must use their $5 bill for.  Something fun each day.

Below are FREE! They can have fruit and veggies whenever they want, and this usually comes in late afternoon after they’ve already used their money allotment for the day.

Together, we portioned out the cookies depending on size.

Here are the crackers portioned out in the $1 dollar box.  I like to recycle ziplock bags, so I ask them to put them back in the box when they are done.

This sits on our  pantry shelf with the bills on them to remind them exactly what is in each box.

Ready for a snack?

The kids have really enjoyed this money exchange and get excited about it.  It helps me have a little control over the food at home as well and makes us all happy! How do you streamline snacking around your home?

{Snacks can be modified according to your family preferences}

Join The Discussion



  1. Awesome idea. We still have two and a half weeks of school so I need to get my rear in gear with summer ideas and what exactly we are going to do.

  2. Angela Hanson says:

    Love this idea!!! I’m totally going to do something like this with my almost 4-year-old.

  3. That’s a great idea! And it teaches them about having to pay for things they want, which is also awesome. And can I just say that I don’t think I’ll recognize Tyler when we see you guys in July? wow!

  4. what an awesome idea.. can we steal it.. my daughter wants to snack ALL THE TIME and it gets out of control. What a great idea!!! She is 4 and then I have a 1 year old so I think I could work this with my 4 year old 🙂

  5. Fun!! We used to do something similar. Actually the same, just without the fun money. After breakfast the kids would all back up their snacks for the day. They had to pick two healthy snacks (fruit/veggies), one regular snack (pretzles/crackers) and one treat (cookies, etc) and they could eat them whenever they wanted, but when they were gone they were gone. It helped them learn to ration! ;D

  6. PS – I am going to share this on my blog tomorrow!

  7. Great idea Kris, we just had a big family night last night on what everyone can do to make summer “work”! It’s always a challenge to keep all the little indians in line! 🙂

  8. This is a fabulous idea! And something that would work great at my house, since I have lots of snackers. 🙂

  9. Okay, I LOVE this idea!!! I don’t have any kids in school yet so I go through “wanting snacks” all day every day of the year. I’m a fan of this!

  10. Okay%2C%20I%20LOVE%20this%20idea!!!%20I%20don’t%20have%20any%20kids%20in%20school%20yet%20so%20I%20go%20through%20%22wanting%20snacks%22%20all%20day%20every%20day%20of%20the%20year.%20I’m%20a%20fan%20of%20this!

  11. This is a good idea. My kids love the “healthy” snacks like fruit, nuts, veggies, etc, don’t get me wrong, but if there are treats around, they go for those in a heartbeat. (I’m here visiting from love stitched, by the way. I would love to learn how to say no to auto 🙂

  12. Fantastic idea, Kristen. So organised and clever of you!

  13. Kristen YOU are my HERO… awh…thank you I was just sitting here last night going how am I gonna control my girls with the I’m hungry bored snacking I hear all summer long…and boom you just solved that for me..I can’t wait to put this idea together today…Thank you so much..

  14. I absolutely love this idea! My kids would eat all day long if I let them (which I don’t). But this will make it easier than me telling them they need to wait until 3:30 or whenever. I will be printing out those bills and setting up some snacks this week.

  15. WOW! Such a neat idea! 🙂 I love it; thanks for sharing.

  16. What a fabulous idea!! I am totally going to be doing this!

  17. The best idea I’ve seen in a loooong time- I LOVE this! My kids are big time snackers- especially when they get bored. I can’t wait to implement it.
    I featured it today- thanks for linking up last week! xo, Mique

  18. What a great idea. I may have to work on this with my kids. My sons a huge snacker.

  19. oh my gosh this is awesome!!! I will be borrowing your idea asap!!! We as a family have a snacking problem and this would soooo benefit us all!

  20. great idea! Hmm…thinking about it I forsee fighting over whose money is whose (although I could mark it) and sticky fingers getting into my snack boxes without “paying” 🙂

  21. FABULOUS idea Kristen!!

  22. Michelle says:

    Love, love LOVE this idea. My 3 year old especially, is always asking for something!!

  23. I l.o.v.e. this idea Kristen!! I’m going to show it off on my blog today as my “Friday Feature”! =)

    Mara @ Super Savings

  24. Super smart idea!

  25. What a FANTASTIC idea! I have been looking for a good solution to the always heard “I’m hungry!” at our house. This is perfect! I am totally going to share this on my blog. THANK YOU!!

  26. I tell my daughter….. NO if she already had a snack. WHAT A NOVEL IDEA!!!

  27. Wow! This is an excellent system. We’ve got the “I’m bored what can I eat?” problem at our house too. Snacks do not last more than a day or two in my house. I always keep fruit, yogurt and other semi-healthy snacks on hand but the cookies and ice cream are usually the first to go. I don’t think this money system will fly with my teenagers but I’m going to give it a try with my 8 and 10 year old. It will also teach them that food actually costs mom and dad money….haha! Thanks for the idea! Beautiful photos btw : )

  28. What a fabulous idea! It’s like a little store the kids participate in. My dd would LOVE this. Thanks

  29. This is the coolest idea ever! Might go over really well with the boy since he likes to gorge! thaks for the great tip

  30. This is a fabulous idea! WOW. I just love it. It looks so organized too, which is an added bonus.

  31. This is similar to something I did when my kids were 4, 3, and 1. I made them a chart with pictures of the different snacks we had available. I put it on the fridge and made little magnets with their first initial on it. When they got a snack, they had to put their magnet on the food they chose. (It didn’t really work for the 1 y/o, but since the older two had a chart, HE had to have a chart).

    For us, fruits and vegetables are also a “free” snack and can be eaten whenever.

    This might be a very good “update” to our old plan. Now that the kids are older and are beginning to understand money. AND I’m soooo tired of “I’m hungry,” all day long.

  32. Be careful. Copying, and or printing US currency can be illegal. Review The Counterfeit Detection Act of 1992, or you may just get a knock on the door from the US Secret Service.

  33. What a fabulous idea! Its winter holidays in Cape Town at the moment but I am going to use this idea too. Thanks for sharing!

  34. I’m thinking of giving my girls real money, using quarters and dollar bills. Whatever they don’t spend, they get to keep each week to use on items other than food/snacks/etc.

  35. to L Lane Designs,

    To keep kids from fighting over whose money is whose, print it on different colored copy paper, or mark the play money with highlighters and assign a color to each child.

  36. If the kids get to the end of the summer with extra money you could have some fun high ticket outting to spend it on. Like going shopping for a new game or a trip somewhere special like the beach or waterpark. Or they could pick out and buy, themselves, a new item of clothes for school, anything they want.

    That being said we have a points system for other things like good behavior, but I think I’ll try to incorporate this into it.

    Thanks so much.

  37. This is an amazing idea! I might start implementing this for myself, haha.

  38. Fabulous idea! Kids (like adults) often fight boredom with snacking. I’ll have to try this with my 6-year old son this summer, and I’ll suggest it to my sister as well (for my nieces). Thanks for the great idea!

  39. Meera Mutkekar says:

    That was a genuinely awesome idea!! It’s worth imitating, too. Thanks for sharing it.

  40. That is a wonderful idea and it teaches money management as well!! Great idea 🙂

  41. Melanie L says:

    Fantastic idea!!!!!!!!

  42. I truly love it!!!

  43. I think this could work for things like TV time too.

  44. Great idea. My boys love snacking on cute bite size pieces of their favourite fruit and veg. Extra work for me but worth it.

  45. Benita Eldridge says:

    You are soooooooooooo smart. Thanks for a great idea. I should try that for myself. This is just amazing!

  46. Allison Tymko says:

    First off, great idea. Totally implementing this summer.

    Second, finally just took a camera class b/c I have been wanting to be able to take a picture like your last one. Now, to do what I learned. I have your book too – it’s all coming together. Thanks!

  47. Hi Kristen-

    This is a BRILLIANT IDEA, my friend. I did something similar a few years ago. I called it the “Snack Token” the kids got 4 a day, and once they were cashed it NO MORE SNACKS. They keep asking to do it again. I guess you inspired me to get a move on. winks, jen

  48. This is genius! I think my 2 year old may be too little for this, but I may do something similar to try to limit the ‘special treats’ in our house. Thank you for sharing!

  49. In from positively splendid linkup. I tweaked this to fit my boys, Ages 10,12; 14. Thank you for sharing!

  50. Stopping by to let you know that this post is featured on my blog today! Stop by to grab a button, if you like! 🙂 Thanks for linking up!

  51. This is such a great idea!!! I think I might need to do this for myself! lol 🙂 I know this is older, but your emails keep going to my spam folder 🙁 so I miss all these great ones! I just pulled 3 out of there! some go to my inbox and some go to spam it makes me sad! lol 🙂 anyway I’d love it if you’d check out my blog too 🙂 I enjoy reading all your posts and seeing your photography 🙂 I hope one day to do as well as you 🙂

    Thanks for the encouragement! 🙂

    Have a fabulous day!

  52. I don’t have kids yet (twins on the way!) but I’m saving this for when I do! This is such a great idea. I think I should even do it with myself! Snacking is my guilty pleasure. And I absolutely love that the fruit is free. Such a great teaching tool too! Thanks!

  53. i really, really love your idea. You are a genius. I have 5 kids & snacks go quickly so ive decided to do this. Our first day was today & the kids really like it however i have run in to a little hiccup in the plan. I regularly have a couple of extra kids at my house. My 5 year old nephew & a 14 year old niece that live next door. They are always snacking here. I dont mind when their moms not home because i watch them but here i am trying to set the ground rules for my kids and but it just doesnt seem fair that my niece & nephew dont have the same rules. Do you have any suggestions that might help me with this? Any suggestions & advice would be greatly appreciated. Keep up the great work & thanks a million:-).

  54. It is evident from your comment that you are kind and generous. =) May I ask why your nephew and niece don’t have the same rules as your children do while you are watching them in your home? In our home, this is how we generally operate – any kid that is in our home goes by our house rules. Pretty much the only exception would be if their parents are also with them. =) I think Kristen has a great idea!! And your question just made me realize that having extra snacks on hand and printing extra money for extra kids in the home is the way to go!! Then every child is treated the same, while allowing each child to make his/her own decisions. Hope this helps! =)

  55. Love this idea and how it can manage the asking (sometimes begging) for snacks and treats. Plus it helps them with the concept of money and that is an added bonus. Thanks for sharing this!