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By Jess Bedsole
I am a very budget-minded person. I am also a heavy snacker, and the two do not always mesh well, at least according to my bank account. I prefer to move my day along by constantly grazing on healthy snacks, but buying all of them adds up. Thankfully, I’ve found a few budget-friendly alternatives that take minimal time to make and still pack a delicious punch.
Popcorn is an example of a very healthy snack you can make yourself and save a bundle. It costs $15 for several pounds of un-popped kernels while a family-sized bag of pre-popped “healthy” popcorn is $1.45 per ounce. Why pay $1.45 per ounce for popcorn when I could pay pennies-per-ounce for un-popped kernels and spend a few minutes popping them myself? If I add a few other healthy things I already have in my kitchen, I have a delicious, easy and healthy snack mix to keep on hand that was super affordable to produce and took almost no time at all.
Pumpkin Pie Popcorn Snack Mix
1/4 C unpopped popcorn kernels (I prefer white kernels)
1/4 C (heaping) dried fruit and nut mix, chopped
1/4 C sunflower seeds
1/2 C plain oyster crackers
2 T coconut oil, melted
1/2 t pumpkin pie spice
1/2 t cinnamon sugar blend
I simply popped the popcorn, melted the coconut oil, then tossed everything in the bowl and lightly mixed. I made sure all of the ingredients were evenly coated with the spices and coconut oil.
The end result is sweet from the cinnamon sugar and savory from the nuts, plus a little warmth from the pumpkin pie spice. It took less than 10 minutes to make, including clean-up time!
If pumpkin pie spice isn’t your thing, you can swap out any seasonings you have on hand or use other snack foods that are hanging around your house. Make your own spicy blend by mixing popcorn with a little cayenne, nuts, pretzels, cheese crackers and a pinch of seasoning salt. Keeping the salt limited is important if you want the snack mix to be on the healthier side, but making your own is more cost-effective and has far fewer additives than any store-bought mix!
What is your favorite snack to make?