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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Monday, March 01, 2010

Frugal Kitchens 101 - Snack Attack

Frugal Kitchens 101
Snacking is a normal part of daily life for most people. The problem with many snacks is they tend to be calorie rich, nutritionally poor and expensive. Essentially some snacks are not a good value for your food dollar or your health. However, snacking is not going to go away so there are a few ways to make better snacking choices. This week's Frugal Kitchens 101 focuses on snacking.

Snacking tends to fall into a couple of categories. Snacks can be crunchy/salt (potato chips, pretzels), soft/sweet (cookies, squares) to everything in between. The important thing to realize is many snacks can be purchased in bulk cheaper or made from scratch cheaper than store bought packages. To put it into perspective a bag of potato chips could cost as much as $2.79, more than a bag of potatoes that can give a yield of more than 4 bags of potato chips. When you make your own snacks you control the ingredients and omit a lot of food additives. Here's a few ideas:

  • chocolate - Chocolate is actually good for you if you eat dark chocolate. Omit milk chocolate and replace it with a high percentage cocoa. It will cost you more than milk chocolate but you will eat less of it so dark chocolate is the frugal choice. Oh and did I mention it is good for you?
  • popcorn - Replace chemically laden microwave popcorn with old fashioned popping corn. It is cheaper, contains no additives, is high in fiber and low in calories. Add flavour to your fresh popped corn with melted butter, sea salt, fresh grated parmesan cheese or you can even turn it into candy corn (also for a fraction of what you would pay store bought).
  • trail mixes - Make your own. Buy in bulk any nuts, raisins and foods you don't make supplemented with those foods you dry yourself. In most cases it is cheaper to make your own than buy a prepared mix and drying fruits is not difficult or expensive.
  • potato chips - Make your own and for a healthier version make baked chips rather than deep fried. These are ever so easy to make either fried or baked. Try other vegetable chips as well. Zucchini chips are very, very inexpensive to make especially if you grow the zucchini. They are healthier and yet just as satisfying as potato chips.
  • fruits/vegetables - A lot of people don't consider fruits and vegetables as snacks but they can be quite healthy snacks. Aside of grabbing an apple, orange or banana keep a container of prepared, ready to use vegetables in your fridge. Ten minutes of prep can give you almost a week's worth of celery sticks, carrot sticks and green pepper wedges to snack on
  • crunchy snacks - I can't remember when I discovered this little trick but you can cut wong tong wrappers in half corner to corner then deep fry them. After draining sprinkle with sugar cinnamon or other desired flavouring for a great crunchy snack. Pork cracklings while not exactly the healthiest thing are easy to make at home. Rice noodles are another great snack if fried. Just heat a bit of oil in a fry pan then break the noodles and toss them in where they will puff taking on interesting shapes in about 2 seconds. Drain and serve as is or season lightly.
  • cookies/squares - By far the the cheapest and healtiest is to make your own. Focus on the easy to make, no bake versions so you can whip up a batch with little effort.
  • candies - It is surprising how easy it is to make candy at home and the best part is you can use natural flavourings and no high fructose corn syrup. Homemade candies can range from hard to fudge to marshmallows to toffee and so much more. They are extremely inexpensive to make. Homemade will give you a slightly healthier product and definitely a less expensive product.
  • by bulk - One of the best ways to save on snacks like nuts is to buy in bulk in quatities you can control.

5 food lovers commented:

A Year on the Grill said...

And how about this one, which i am finding out now... If you don;t buy it, it ain;t here.

All of my snack attacks can be avoided when I have to travel to the store... It is difficult, here, so i simply don;t have the high cal snacks in the house.

Chey can cook! (and more) said...

Love the tips! I always have every intention to make trail mix at home, and never do - I really should though, I eat it/buy it all the time, but there's always something in it I don't like - this way I can make it the way I want to:)

Chey can cook! (and more) said...

And BTW, there is an award for you at my site:)

Garden Gnome said...

Hmm, snack avoidance you say? You are right that if you don't buy it you can't be tempted to eat it. Still there are a lot of healthy and/or homemade snacks.

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Chey, thanks :) I'm glad you liked the tips. Trail mix is so easy to make at home too.

Thanks so much for the award. I really appreciate it. I left a comment on your blog as well.