Thursday, July 9, 2009

Food Bill Reducing Tips Thursday

This week's tip is 2-fold:
1) Stop buying things wrapped individually, and
2) Get more creative with snacks.

My kids love snacks. Whether they are the 'good for you' kind or the kind I wouldn't want my mother seeing them eat, buying snacks can eat up your food budget. Quickly. Show me a family with teens and we'll see a family being eaten alive by their kids! Seriously! These kids come home and find every morsel worth eating in the house within 5 minutes. That cheese you hoped would be used for the enchiladas tonight? GONE. The tortilla chips you hoped would go in the lunches tomorrow? GONE. The bell peppers and carrots for tonight's salad? History. Finding snacks that satisfy the most discriminating tastes yet don't break the bank is my current mission. Here are a few that I have found so far:

Popcorn. Popcorn is my wonder food with the kids. I can serve it plain; with butter and salt; with curry powder and pumpkin seeds; with raisins, cashews and salt; salt and brown sugar or agave. I have also been know to get pretty fancy and make popcorn balls if asked nicely.
Nachos. You can find all sorts of toppings for nachos - the basic one is cheese (though plenty of great-tasting nachos can be had without the cheese. On top, you can add: beans, meat, salsa, peppers, corn, olives, sour cream, tomatoes, grated carrots, grated zucchini, basically any vegetable could work.
Fruit salad. Yum. My youngest just made a spectacular fruit salad with his aunt long distance over the phone. MMMM. The best things are those made with love. You know the drill here - any fruit will do it. You can leave it 'naked' or dress it up with yogurt and honey, sour cream and maple syrup, or a bit of your favorite jam thinned with a little bit of water or orange juice.
Chip mix. I came up with my own version of Chex mix - which I love, but it is expensive and has ingredients I choose not to eat. I get the equivalent cereals in the organic food section of the market, add gluten-free pretzels, nuts and sometimes dried cranberries for a shot of sweetness, then add whatever spicy-ness I am looking for, a few of the other typical ingredients (butter, salt, soy sauce or worcestershire sauce, etc) to finish with the recipe. I don't make it very often due to the work and cost involved (because of the organic part), but when I do, it's a great snack.

And just a little word about individual-sized packaging. Oh for crying out loud... do things really taste better when they come in those little tiny packages? Aren't the chips just the same when you take them out of an extra-large (and cheaper) bag and put them into smaller bags/containers? My kids insist I was born yesterday. "Oh no, mom. The ones with the little boxes inside the other boxes inside the bags are much fresher. They also happen to be the ones everyone brings to school. No one brings their own containers to school. That's weird." Too bad.

What snack do you cling to? What snacks do you keep around for your family??


Angela said...

That's funny- bringing your own containers is weird! I remember it being a big deal to fit in and bring the same kind of bag everyone else had.

Sounds like you've got lots of great snack ideas. Some of my favorites are:
-peanut butter and crackers or peanut butter and graham crackers
-fruit and yogurt
-fruit and dark chocolate
-trail mix
-fruit leather (for some reason everyone makes fun of me for eating these, but I love them)
-balance bars
-dried apricots and chocolate
-hummus with raw veggies
-hardboiled eggs
-your granola!
-things on crackers- like a little goat cheese and rosemary jam (yum!), or cream cheese and worcestshire sauce (lived on that as a snack for about a year in high school)

This recipe for granola bars/energy bars sounds great (and would be a lot cheaper than store-bought):

Individual-sized packages are a disaster- so much wasted packaging! And they cost a fortune! If you need to control your consumption, pour out servings into your own containers.

Maria Rose said...

Lately my snack has been a spoonful of peanut butter or just a cookie.

Lisa said...

I like to make tamari nuts. Toast shelled nuts in a frying pan. When toasted to your liking, add just a few dashes of tamari (or soy sauce) and stir to coat the nuts. Be careful not to add too much tamari as a little goes a long way. I found this out the hard way many times! Mmmm, Yummy! Another snack that I reserve for myself, actually I hide as I eat it because I know then the family will devour it, is a spoonful of peanut butter with chocolate chips on top! Maybe a couple of these spoonfuls!

Jill said...

Such wonderful and yummy ideas! I see a peanut butter thread here...! Angela - have you tried making your own fruit leather? I should try to post about my attempts sometime soon. And Lisa- you decadent girl! You better not ever let me see you doing that - I'll invade your stash!