The Frugal Snack Hack That Always Has Your Back

Not sure about this gadget in my bed, humans

Not sure about this gadget in my bed, humans

One thing we hold dear here at ye olde Frugalwoods HQ (aka our house) is snacking. Indeed, snacks are hallowed whether we’re hiking, biking, lounging, plotting against the consumer industrial complex, or just generally annoying Frugal Hound with our presence. The pursuit of frugal snacks has led us to quest far and wide–from the aisles of our discount grocer (shout out to Market Basket) to the hallowed halls of Costco.

My interest in snacks has elevated precipitously over the past six months, thanks to my pregnancy, and I’m pretty sure Babywoods will be born ready to snack.

A character flaw of mine is hangriness, which Mr. FW will attest is a real and present danger in one’s pregnant wife. When I hit a certain threshold of hunger, fangs come out and I loose all sense of decorum. People and/or greyhounds could be maimed. Hence, woe betides the person who approaches me sans an adequate reservoir of snacks!

Healthy + Thrifty (And You Know It)

As an inveterate pursuer of the two-fold goal of healthy and frugal, our snack menu on a typical weekday includes any (ahem, all if you’re me) of the following: carrots, broccoli, green pepper, almonds, bananas, and hard boiled eggs. These snacks all fit the unique, dual challenge presented by the pursuit of cheap nutrition and they’re all perfectly delectable. Frugal Hound disagrees and feels that the only true snack in this world is bacon. Clearly it’s a good thing the dog is not responsible for grocery shopping.

But the snack I wish to exalt today is one so scrumptious, so divine that I hesitate to even say its name for fear of lessening its powers. But, this post would be pretty dumb if I didn’t tell you, so fear not! But hold on, there’s a backstory first!

The Real Reason We Got Married

The air popper in question, chilling with our hacked Sodastream

The air popper in question, chilling with our hacked Sodastream

This snack, or rather the method for preparing it, is actually how I knew Mr. Frugalwoods was the man for me. You see, our senior year of college, Mr. FW gave me an air popper for Christmas*. I was rapturous. Not only was this man romantical, he was freaking practical. I’ve always been won over by the practical, geeky type (no offense, darling) and this air popper in gift form cemented my opinion of Mr. FW as a prime example of the breed. For you see, an air popper is a glorious beacon of frugal snacking.

*Thanks to judicious record-keeping by, Mr. FW just confirmed that he purchased our air popper on December 4, 2005 for $24.

One merely inserts popcorn kernels (sold for a pittance) and out leap fully formed vittles! Far from the shiny, crinkly, pre-packaged bags of expensive (and might I add, often unhealthy) chips, cookies, and crackers, home-popped corn is about as thrifty as it gets. I defy you to find a frugal weirdo who feels otherwise (keep your mouth shut if you are such a frugal weirdo! you’ll ruin my whole thesis here!).

Furthermore, I defy you to find a cheaper snack. My geeky, practical husband just calculated (using our food scale for maximum precision) that each bowl of popcorn we pop costs $0.15. Ok granted, this is slightly lavish in comparison with our $0.10/serving breakfasts, but hey, this is a savory treat we’re talking about here.

Climate Control Concerns Vis-à-Vis An Air Popper: A Serious Matter

Mr. FW manning the En Plein Air Popper

Mr. FW manning the En Plein Air Popper

Concerned about heating up your frugally non air-conditioned home during the summertime with the mighty power of an air popper? We certainly were. Enter the patented Frugalwoods “Pop En Plein Air Method.” Oh yes, that’s right, we pop our corn out of doors during the warmer months. Our neighbors have grave concerns about us.

“But what if I want popcorn during inclement summer weather, Mrs. FW?!?” Be not concerned, we have a solution for that too. We strategically position the air popper under our stove range hood and exhaust the hot air whilst we pop. And in the wintertime? It’s the ideal warmer for any frugal weirdo’s minimally heated abode.

A Paragon Of Durable Manufacturing

In addition to serving as the origin point for our now 7+ years of loving marriage, our trusty air popper is still popping a whopping 10 years later. Now that’s a frugal specimen of machinery! We don’t even have to rotate its tires or change its oil (ahem, Frugalwoods-mobile, you needy 19-year-old vehicle you).

While I’m certain there are more weighty topics we could be discussing today, I feel it’s only appropriate to pause and reflect on the simple joy inherent to a darn tasty, frugal snack. It’s just another way that we live the luxuriously frugal life, people. Don’t get too jealous, you can buy your lover an air popper here (or peruse your local thrift store, Craigslist, or Buy Nothing Project). Yes indeed, an air popper is one of the precious few things I do advocate spending money on.

Mr. FW touting our 10-year-old popper

Mr. FW touting our 10-year-old popper

Did a snack food product bring you and your sweetie together? What’s your perfect frugal snack?

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146 Responses

  1. Winifred says:

    I too love my hot air popper. Been using it since I discovered it was the perfect Weight Watchers snack 15 years ago. Being vegan, I spray it with olive oil from my Misto spritzer and sprinkle it with my own herbal seasoning mix (buying bulk herbs, even at Whole Foods, cost pennies compared to buying herbs in jars) and sometimes nutritional yeast. Heavenly.

    • YES to bulk herbs! Probably the best frugal decision I ever made was stocking up on cheap glass jars at a garage sale and using them to store bulk herbs. I have never, ever noticed a difference, and it costs me about $1 to refill a jar that will last a few months to half a year depending on how much I use it. When I see people buying the pre-packed jars for $6-$7 at the grocery store, I want to tell them that literally next door, they can get it for a fraction of the price – I don’t, because to each their own, but I mean, they must not know, right?!

      • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

        I’m a big fan of Penzy’s spices. They have a store near-ish to our house, and their prices are great. I try to buy about 1 years worth of each common spice & herb at a time. I find that to be the sweet spot between avoiding staleness and saving money.

        • Leah says:

          Penzey’s cinnamon. mmmmmm. There are times when a small premium = big difference in taste. I find their prices amazing for the quality they deliver.

    • lili says:

      YES! Nutritional yeast sprinkled on the popcorn makes excellent cheese popcorn…plus it gives you a huge amount of b vitamins and b12 AND a rather complete amino acid profile…my kids LOVE IT and we too advocate the extreme frugality and health benefit of our air popper. We had a whirly pop for 20 years, worked it to death, but one day the kids distracted me and I set it on fire!….

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      Yep, olive oil on air-popped popcorn is one of life’s great pleasures. I honestly like it better than butter, and it’s certainly better for you!

  2. Jacq says:

    I popped my corn on the stove top for several years, until one day I saw an air popper at Wegman’s! Coupon in hand, I got the purple one (I wanted green…), and haven’t looked back! 🙂

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      The air popper really is a great convenience tool. We’ve done the stovetop method too, and it works fine, but it’s more fiddly and we end up using more oil than with the air popper.

  3. Popcorn is our favorite (and frugal) snack as well. We love popcorn so much that my husband created a superior microwave popcorn button as his college senior project. But since receiving a stove-top popper for our wedding, we buy bulk popcorn. One great advantage to it is that we can make kettle corn in the stove-top popper. We rarely eat this by ourselves, as it is very not healthy. However, it is the perfect snack to treat guests or even take to a party, and is much less expensive than pre-packaged goodies.

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      Kettle corn! Yum! That would be a dangerous thing to have around our house ;-). Great idea about taking to parties and events, people love snacking on fresh kettle corn and it’s a pretty unique thing to bring.

  4. Kristen says:

    Love it! I inherited the air popper my parents had when I was growing up. It would have been purchased sometime in the 1980s, and it is still popping strong. I dread the day it dies, but will celebrate its memory and it will be something we will replace, as popcorn is one of our favourite snacks too!

    • Wow! I’m really impressed with the long life of these air poppers. Our air popper lasted about two years before it stopped working. We’ve been popping on the stove but air poppers are way better.

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      I’ve definitely seen some 70’s model poppers in goodwill before. That’s some serious long term popping power!

  5. Ali says:

    I’m a big snack fan myself. Eggs or bananas are my main choices – I don’t like popcorn so the frugality shown here cannot be matched by me!

    And I understand the hanger. My mother jokes that I need fed every three hours and that I could go longer without food as a baby. She may have point!

  6. Tara says:

    Personally, after having popcorn popped with a little olive oil, I can’t go back to air popped. A friend gave us a “Stir Crazy’ for our wedding gift which just requires a tablespoon of olive oil along with the popcorn kernels and pops the popcorn in a fun way. As long as you avoid poly unsaturated fats (vegetable and seed oils) and use a monounsaturated fat like olive or avocado oils, the popcorn is super healthy for you and just as easy!

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      Neat! We do usually put some olive oil on after it’s been popped, and I totally agree that it makes a ton of sense from both a health and tastiness perspective.

  7. beth says:

    My dentist recently banned me from eating popcorn and almonds. I chipped a tooth on popcorn and now I need a crown. Popcorn is one of my favourite foods.

    The dentist says that now that everyone is eating almonds there is a sharp rise in broken teeth from almonds. I prefer walnuts so I am ok there.

    I really miss popcorn.

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      Oh no! We haven’t noticed any ill dental effects from popcorn… but I do tend to very carefully choose the fully popped kernels to eat.

  8. Ahhhh popcorn. One of my roommates got an air popper in third year. It was sort of like dominoes. One person would make some as a study snack, then the whole house would smell like delicious popcorn, so another person would make some. Repeat, ad nauseum. (there were six of us.)
    Today, I own my own and have been known to dig it out for a snack that turns into a dinner quantity of popcorn. What can I say, I have some weak days.

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      Popcorn has got to be the least-guilty snack that actually is enjoyable to eat 🙂 We too have occasionally eaten meal quantities of popcorn, no shame in it!

  9. Popcorn! Hubs loves it. He had a Stir Crazy popper(because everyone needs a gadget), but we’ve transitioned to popping on the stove. He’s quite the popcorn master. Though an air popper would probably make his final product more consistent. Now we just need to buy the kernels in bulk. We are going through popcorn at an high rate!

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      Yeah, our 2lb bag from the grocery store is the cheapest I’ve found it. $1.50 for 10 full giant bowls of popcorn is hard to beat.

  10. vicky says:

    we eat a lot of popcorn and i recently had to replace my 20+ year old air popper (also bought the replacement from Amazon. less than $24 now). I highly recommend organic pop corn (tri color is my favorite) — corn is one of the genetically modified and most heavily sprayed crops. The cost of organic popcorn, although more than conventional, is well worth it. Much better tasting, fresher, healthier, too. With a little fresh pasture butter and some herbamare…. (or in my husband’s case, blue-green algae – LOL).

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      You put algae on your popcorn? Never heard of it, but heck, I’ll try anything once. Thanks for the tip!

      • vicky says:

        I don’t eat it. Husband does and loves it. Another way to get those nutrients in. I stick to real butter and sea salt.

  11. Sarah says:

    Mmmm I love popcorn!!! We don’t have an air popper, but my work makes popcorn every day at 3 haha! Love that perk 🙂

    When my husband and I first started dating, almost every day revolved around a different self-serve frozen yogurt place. I was obsessed with those places at the time, so my husband always surprised me with a new one each time we went out. Funny story too, because he later told me he didn’t even really like those places haha! Guess he really loves me 😉

    Now, I’m pretty simple when it comes to snacking. I love apples, bananas, pb bread, and other small little treats.

    Hope you both have a wonderful weekend!

  12. Popcorn is great! There’s something almost magical about air-popped popcorn. Right now, we’re eating veggies from our garden like crazy. Raisins, bananas, and hard-boiled eggs are some favorites, too.

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      Raisin! I do love raisins, but I have to watch myself. They are sorta like nature’s candy… with all the calories of a candy too! But dang aren’t they delicious!

  13. I eat ALL the snacks, but popcorn is also one of my favorites. I’ve given up packed microwave popcorn in favor of popping my own, which you can actually do with just a simple brown paper bag and a microwave. I’ve never tried an air popper, and I am hesitant to add another appliance to our already crowded kitchen. Some of my other favorite (healthy) snacks are raisins, peanut butter and granola bars. The unhealthy snacks unfortunately call to me as well.

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      I’ve heard of the paper bag model, but never actually tried it. Our microwave is in our basement in order to save kitchen space, but our popcorn popper is upstairs and in a cabinet!

  14. My heart goes out to poor FrugalHound. Did you know you can easily make your own bacon (and flavor it in any way you like!) for a fraction of the cost of purchasing it? All you need is a source for pork belly, a few basic ingredients, and a little patience. And you have the benefit of knowing precisely what is in your bacon.

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      I’ve always wanted to try curing my own bacon! Haven’t found a good source of pork belly locally that isn’t wildly expensive, but I do keep my eye out. Curing meats of all sorts is on my list of things to pursue once we’re homestead bound. Building a smokehouse seems like a fun project!

  15. We go through popcorn phases. Unfortunately (for our waist and wallet) it’s the bagged variety. OMG the butter. I can’t ever get the butter to taste the same on air popped popcorn. Quick math says we’re paying around $.20 per bag for the store brand Walmart popcorn, so not a ridiculous price for a snack for multiple people.

    Lately we’re in a fruit and nut snacking phase. It’s probably a lot more expensive per serving but healthier (and we don’t mind spending more on food for different or better stuff!). $1 for a small tray of blueberries that the kids demolish nearly instantly? Yep, but we can afford it!

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      We’re olive oil on popcorn, not butter folks, but I know what you mean. It doesn’t taste quite the same, but I think that’s probably a good thing for our waistlines! Plus melting butter is another step and mess that would prevent us from making popcorn any ole time. Can’t put barriers between me and a good snack!

      Berries are a serious weakness for me too! I grew up picking and eating bucketfuls of wild blackberries, and I still can’t get over how expensive they are to buy in the store. Planting a row of thornless (!!) blackberry canes is high on the list of the first things I want to do to our homestead land.

      • We planted some (thorned) raspberries, (thorned) blackberries and blueberries last year. The birds ate all the blueberries (need some netting I guess). Raspberries were decent, but a fair amount of work to weed, water, and pick. And they grew unruly, so Mrs. RoG plucked them up. The blackberries were looking good but we went out of town for 7 weeks so I’m not sure how they eventually matured though I see the dried berries still on the vine now.

        I tracked our raspberry production and it amounted to something like 18 ounces (maybe $5 at the store??). Not horrible but not great given the work involved. Let’s face it, I’m frugal but I’m pretty lazy too. I do, however, grow my own green onions. Never need more than a stalk or two at a time, so it’s a perfect solution to those occasional culinary needs.

        • Kristen says:

          Have you tried the Everbearing Raspberries? They yield a small spring harvest and a large fall harvest and grow really well in New England. And if you really want ease of care, you can mow down the canes after the fall harvest, however you give up your spring harvest.
          I haven’t done it yet, but most things I’ve read have advised building a trellis for your unruly raspberries.
          And we got our plants through the Arbor Day Foundation (very low price PLUS a good cause!)

  16. “This snack, or rather the method for preparing it, is actually how I knew Mr. Frugalwoods was the man for me.” Hahaha, yes! I’m a bit snack obsessed myself, but sadly my partner is not. Lately, I’ve tried to focus on high protein snacks to keep from becoming hangry at the office. My go-to snacks? Almonds, cottage cheese, hard-boiled eggs.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Haha–it’s a true story, what can I say ;). High protein snacks are where it’s at for sure. I have almonds and a hard-boiled egg everyday at work too! Tasty and filling. I’ve been getting my almonds in bulk from Costco and been really happy with how cheap they are from there!

  17. I am envious of your air popper. The economics of a bag of kernels vs. pre-assembled bags is a no-brainer. I was recently pursuing our local Aldi’s and noticed the vast difference so I picked up a bag. We have since tried to master the art of popcorn popping via microwave and stove. I hear people are successful with these methods but we’re not there yet 🙂 Do you think I could convince Mr. Crackin’ of our need for this amazing gadget?

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Yes!! Seriously, one of the few times I do advocate for buying something ;). The great part is that these poppers last forever. So it’s really an investment in your future 😉

  18. Ashley says:

    I love popcorn! Sadly we don’t have an air popper but popping the kernels in a brown paper sack in the microwave works well enough. You just won’t achieve 100% poppage. Zap 1/3 cup of kernels in a brown paper lunch sack with the top folded over a few times, for around 2 minutes.

    Other frugal snacks: bananas or celery with peanut butter, carrots with hummus, smoothies made of fruit that was about to “go” that was frozen for later and oatmeal with chocolate chips.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I’m so intrigued by this paper bag/microwave method, which a number of folks have recommended. I just might have to try it out! Yum to all of your other frugal snacks too :). I have to watch myself around the peanut butter though–I’m liable to just start spooning it out of the jar and directly into my mouth…

  19. Devan says:

    Yes, popcorn for the win! We are also popcorn devotees. We use the stovetop for our popping, and are extremely fortunate to be able to purchase locally grown, organic popcorn from our food co-op at an insanely reasonable price. It is literally grown right down the road from where it’s sold and it’s SO GOOD! We like to get creative with different spice combos, to keep things interesting. I love some spicy popcorn! I also suffer from serious hanger issues, I always have, and popcorn has saved the day many times. I’m actually planning to try growing some popcorn in our veggie garden next year. I got the seeds this year and then ran out of room in our garden (guess that means it’s time to expand!), but it’s at the top of my list for next year!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That is so cool you’re going to grow your own popcorn!!! That’s the perfect frugal circle of a snack cycle :). And I agree–spicy popcorn is delish.

  20. I adore popcorn, but air-popped is a little bland for me. I make in a stockpot on the stove, with a little oil – yum! Still quite frugal, but not quite as healthy as air-popped.

  21. Danell says:

    Yes! We have an air popper my son inherited when he was younger from his grandma as he was fascinated with it. It must be at least 20-25 years old. I’ve also recently started popping it in a bowl over my gas stove. Also very tasty and frugal. While popcorn is great and all, I admit, I have a sweet tooth and there’s nothing like warm from the oven chocolate chip cookies. They aren’t THAT expensive to make, and hey, this year I scored milk chocolate bunnies after Easter for like 19 cents for a solid one pound bunny! I chopped those babies up and put them in cookies, ice cream, my mouth. . . .

  22. Yea for popcorn, although with the way we make it on the stove top with tons of coconut oil and butter I doubt it’s the most frugal of snacks for us.

    Side note: you don’t know hangry yet. When you start breastfeeding, you will be hungrier and thirstier than you’ve ever been in your life, for the first few weeks. 🙂

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s so interesting about breastfeeding! I was reading that I should actually plan to eat more calories while breastfeeding than I do while pregnant. So, Mr. FW has his work cut out for him in the kitchen this winter ;)!

  23. HAHA! Oh my gosh. My fiancee and I were JUST talking about getting an air-popper. She said that SHE was the one who wanted to get it first, but I KNOW it was ME. Either way, we both want to get one! I’m thinking of maybe getting one at the thrift shop? Hmmm….

  24. It’s fun playing with different toppings. My favorite is fresh grated Parmesan.

  25. Mary says:

    Corn is too tough for my sensitive gut. But I do have a paleo granola recipe to share – I play with the amounts of each (organic) ingredient depending upon what I have in the cupboard. 1+ cups nuts, 1/4 cup shredded coconut, 1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds, 1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds, salt and cinnamon to taste. Melt 1/4 cup coconut oil with a little bit of vanilla, pour over the mixture and mix well. Put in oven at 275 degrees for approx 20 mins. I put this in the oven when it is already being heated for something else.

  26. Samantha says:

    We love our air popper. It’s so wonderful for our date nights in, watching a Netflix movie. And if one or two pieces get dropped, our own frugal pup hoovers them right up. Win-win-win.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Perfect! Frugal Hound has never expressed interest in our popcorn, but my parents’ cats LOVED it. They’d come hover on the couch until you gave them a piece.

  27. I love hummus. I swear I will eventually need to go to hummus-hab. My body is make up of 50% water and 50% chickpeas. 🙂 Enjoy your snacks! 🙂

  28. Norm says:

    The first and worst job I ever had was popping popcorn at a movie theater. Imagine 6 or 7 hour days every Friday, Saturday and Sunday doing nothing but sitting in front of an industrial size popcorn machine, absorbing the stink of the oil, salt and butter. So this kind of brings back nightmares for me. Actually, the only way I can eat the stuff is pretty plain, the way you have it. Both movie theater and microwavable popcorn makes me gag. Even before I had that job, microwave popcorn made me sick a few times. But the job made me a lifelong theater popcorn hater. I quit after six months.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Ugh, that sounds like an awful job! Definitely worse than my first job at the Burlington Coat Factory–just coats, no popcorn. I can totally understand your aversion to the snack now!

  29. Popcorn is the best frugal snack! It’s easy to make, cheap, and healthy… and air popped is fun to share with the dog. Does Frugal Hound get to share? My dog stands in the kitchen drooling waiting for a few to “pop” out of the bowl.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      You know, Frugal Hound has never expressed any interest in our popcorn, but my parents’ cats LOVED it. They’d come hover on the couch until you gave them a piece.

  30. Hannah says:

    I must say, I much prefer the stove top method because what’s a tasty snack with out added fats?

  31. POPCORN! POPCORN! Have you ever seen that 80s movie Real Genius where [SPOILER ALERT] they turn someone’s whole house into Jiffy Pop? Sometimes when I am premenstrual, I wish that was real.

    I have always preferred stovetop cooking and of course you CAN make popcorn in just a saucepan. Mr. FP, however, several years ago, bought me a Whirly Pop stovetop cooker, which makes much fluffier popcorn using just a smidge of oil.

    Unfortunately, the cat knocked it off a high shelf and got it off-kilter. I was not able to get it straightened out and had to buy a new one. Still probably the cheapest snack money can buy :-).

    FWIW the brand-name kernels that I buy at Costco in a gigantic jug are much better than the Walmart brand ones I used to get!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Yay popcorn! I’ve never seen that movie, but it sounds pretty awesome. We’ve been getting generic kernels from Market Basket, but I should check out Costco’s selection next time we’re there. Thanks for the tip!

  32. We have that exact same air popper and LOVE it. It seriously is awesome haha. I got the same one for my Mom for Christmas a few years ago and she’s obsessed with it too. Love that it’s healthier and so much cheaper than microwave bags of popcorn too 🙂

  33. Jo says:

    Not a fan of popcorn. But I am a fan of hard-working, long-lasting appliances. I bought my Cuisinart food processor in the 1980s, when I worked part-time at the Harvard Coop while in grad school. It was a huge splurge at the time (can’t recall how much I paid, but I got an employee discount). Thirty plus years later, I use that food processor at least once a day. My favorite snack: buy discounted, over-ripe bananas, cut up and freeze. Put equivalent of one banana in food processor (let thaw about 5 min) with a couple tablespoons of powdered cocoa, and, if I’m feeling decadent, 1 Tablespoon of peanut butter. Blend. Voila! Sugar-free, inexpensive, chocolate “frozen dessert.”

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Nicely done! Gotta love the long-lasting appliances. We really enjoy our food processor too–comes in handy for all sorts of things. Your banana dessert sounds delicious! I love that it doesn’t have any sugar… I’m going to have to try that.

  34. Marcia says:

    That’s funny. My husband (and I?) maybe both of us had popcorn poppers at one time. In the interest of simplicity, I got rid of it (we weren’t eating much popcorn).

    Then I started making it on the stovetop, and realized that I like the flavor better when it’s cooked in a bit of oil.

    We had a few years of no popcorn – kids aren’t supposed to eat it until they are 3 or 4 (though my 2nd kid had a full set of chompers early, and he was eating it at 2.5).

    Then “Santa” (aka husband) decided he missed the popper, and got us one for Christmas. It is in heavy use now. But I make sure we add butter. The toddler LOVES watching it work.

    Snacks can REALLY kill your budget if you aren’t careful!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I love watching the popper work too :)! It’s a pretty funny show! Very true about snacks–they can be so expensive if you buy the pre-packaged kind.

  35. Sue says:

    You can also use a hot air popper to roast coffee beans at home. Yup. We have two poppers – one for coffee and one for popcorn (both picked up for less than $5 at the thrift shop). Home roasted beans are cheaper than costco beans, and taste way better. I recommend giving it a try – but remember to roast outside. The beans can get a little smokey. Just put the same amount of beans in as you would popcorn, then let it run until you hear popping. At this point, watch the bean colour to get the darkness of roast you are looking for. There are tons of online tutorials available on it if you are interested in learning more.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thanks for the tip! We’ve been toying with the idea of roasting our own beans for awhile now and would love, love, love to find a good deal on a used roaster someday. But in the meantime, we might just have to try it out in the air popper!

  36. Nate Brunner says: your right in my wheelhouse. My mother makes the best caramel corn in the world, and she always had a popper running in our house growing up. These days I use a Whirly-Pop ( and they really are incredible. Just toss in a spoonful of Coconut-Oil with 1/2 a cup of kernels for popcorn to die for. And it’s great with kids as they love to help “stir”. Highly recommended!

  37. Mmm. I love popcorn. We have a popcorn machine too. I must confess, I haven’t used it in awhile. I also must confess that my favourite snack is actually chips – which is unhealthy and not frugal at all. I’m going cold turkey without right now.

  38. Mc says:

    No appliance needed to pop popcorn! Pop it in a glass bowl in the microwave with a plate on top.

  39. We are big popcorn fans too! A good filling frugal snack as long as you stay away from the microwave bags.

  40. Julie G says:

    So I have seriously been researching an air popper for popcorn. Currently the hubby and I use Olive Oil on the electric stove to pop our popcorn. We use about 2TBS on oil and have calculated that our savings would be realized in about a month or two. We have researched the air poppers and Orville Rednbocker has gotten rave reviews. I see that you have had yours for 10 years. May have just sold me on this air popper 😀

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Yes, get one!!! It’s one of the few times I’ll actually advocate buying something ;). We’re really pleased ours has lasted 10 years and is still popping strong!

  41. Gira says:

    I love popcorn! It is my favorite thing! My sister and I helped my mom clean out her pantry one weekend, and I found the long-forgotten air popper from my childhood. I told my mom she had too much stuff (she is a bit of a kitchen gadget hoarder), I graciously offered to take this appliance off her hands (she likes to make popcorn on the stove in a big pot anyway). It was a bit dusty, but it still works great!
    I have forgotten about it, so I will have to pull it out tonight and munch on some POPCORN!

  42. We love our popcorn also. We pop it in the microwave. Just add the kernels to a paper bag and put the microwave on until the popping slows. We reuse paper bags that we end up bringing home and we keep reusing the same bag until there is a substantial hole in it, so no money or waste beyond the cost of the kernels. Some people pop in on the stove also with just a bit of oil in a pan.

  43. Rebecca says:

    I love fresh organic fruit in season (its cheaper that way) to snack on or popcorn is also really good.

  44. Stephanie M says:

    This is by far my favorite snack also! Our air popper is popping at least once a week. I have the same one as you and my parents had the previous version of this brand for about 20 years until it finally started leaving too many kernels unpopped. So I upgraded them with this one as well for Christmas a few years ago!

    And since you’re pregnant, I’ll give you a little baby tip that will maybe let you do double duty with the air popper also. You’ve probably heard that white-noise works wonders for getting the little one to sleep. We tried the vacuum, the hair dryer, radio static, they all worked ok, but what worked every single time like a charm? The air popper! Sleeping baby in less than a minute, with or without actually popping kernels in it (but double win if you do get popcorn too).

  45. We actually sold our (well used and quite old) air popper for $10 on craigslist a few years ago. I much prefer the whirly-pop stovetop method and I can make kettle corn in it as well! Just this Christmas, Dad bought me a whirly-pop “knock off” that works on our new induction stovetop. Alas, the Whirly-Pop original went to goodwill since we can’t really use it any more. We have found a difference in the quality of the kernels though, so now we’re pretty snobbish when it comes to which brand of kernels to buy. Great Value doesn’t cut it 🙁

  46. Shannon says:

    I too love me some popcorn! Our air popper died, so I make it on the stove. I like it better than way too. Do you top yours with anything or just plain?

    An inexpensive “dip” I make often is Lebanese labneh. My Lebanese friend at work showed me. Take a quart of plain yogurt (cheapest organic I can find – low fat, full fat, doesn’t matter, I’ve taste tested) or make your own yogurt. Place all the yogurt in a pillow case (well it’s not a real pillow case, but that fine of a fabric Mine is the size of a doll’s pillow case. Cheese cloth is far to coarse). Then let all the liquid drain for 24 hours. I put mine in a pitcher suspended using a knife across the opening. Or you can tie it to your kitchen faucet. After 24 hours, you have this creamy tangy cheese goodness. Scrape into a container, sprinkle with salt and drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil. Dip with veggies, pita chips, pretzels, spread on your morning sandwich with egg, use on any old sandwich really. It’s pretty versatile. Haven’t done a cost per serving, but I get 1-2 weeks out of a quart of labneh.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Yum–that labneh sounds delicious! We usually add some olive oil and salt to our popcorn. And, we love dipping it in homemade hummus…. yum.

  47. Kirsten says:

    I am a popcorn lover as well! It’s my go-to snack of choice. So, one day I’m going to invite myself over for some popcorn and coffee 😉 Because coffee AND popcorn are probably served together in heaven.

    My hubby bought me one of those coffee/espresso combination pots before we were married. He assumed it would save me money over the long haul. Problem is, I’ve been through THREE of them now. I might overindulge on coffee; the pots can’t seem to keep up with me!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I would love to have you over for coffee and popcorn :)! And there’s no such thing as overindulgence in coffee, right ;)?!

  48. You are speaking my language! Snacking is one of my favorite pastimes, and hangriness is definitely real. I have a fondness for cheese, which is not super frugal, and carrots, which can be frugally had, especially since we grow them ourselves.

  49. Katy says:

    We don’t have an air popper and don’t really have room in our small kitchen for single-duty kitchen accoutrements. However, mention of popcorn on your blog recently inspired me to try popping it on the stove. I used 1/3 cup of popcorn (next time I’ll buy a non GMO variety) and a couple tablespoons of coconut oil. Once popped, I stirred in salt and fresh cracked pepper. It was kind of like kettle chips with cracked pepper, but so much better and certainly healthier! Homemade gourmet popcorn FTW!

  50. Tarynkay says:

    We also do popcorn, but just in a pot on the stove. So it requires a little oil. You can also make kettle corn on the stove and heck yes we do that too. Not quite as healthy, but so tasty.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Oh super yums. I really like kettle corn but we’ve never made it at home before. I’m now thinking we should… 😉

  51. Jane says:

    This is too funny! My hubs and I were out looking for garage sales this week. I couldn’t find anything I wanted/needed. Then I spotted a box with a brand new, never used air popcorn popper! For $2 bucks! That’s the only thing I came home with, I was so proud, lol. I was going to buy one at the store, but kept putting it off. So glad I did 🙂

  52. Awesome – never would have thought of this as a go-to-snack – even though my wife is a huge fan of popcorn when we go to the movies (in fact, I think it’s the only reason she likes to go!). But at $11 for a tiny box of popcorn and a drink – this frugal alternative sounds like an absolute revelation for our household!!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      It’s a great frugal snack for sure :)! Definitely beats the cost of pre-packaged store-bought options. Plus it’s delicious!

  53. Eileen says:

    Homemade popcorn is definitely the best! I grew up with an air popper, but now we make our popcorn on the stovetop. It’s still super easy and fast, even if it requires a little more effort. And afterward, the pan is hot enough to melt the butter — no extra dishes. Yay!

  54. Susan says:

    Woot woot for popcorn! We adore our whirlypop, thrifted for $8. It is hard to understand why people waste money on nasty chemical laden microwave popcorn in disposable bags. Happy frugal popping to all. 🙂

  55. Sharon says:

    We’ve had our air popper for 20+ years and it’s still going strong. I typically melt some butter in the microwave to drizzle over and use popcorn salt (which is just ground fine salt) which sticks better to the popcorn (also works well on buttered corn on the cob).

  56. Amy says:

    Love!! When my last (garage sale) air popper died about 9 years ago in a fiery death, my hubby knew I wanted/needed a new one. So for my birthday he bought me the same exact one you have on your counter! Lol! Great husbands think alike! I have found good deals on popcorn at bulk food stores like “Cash and Carry”, “Winco Foods” and “Grocery Outlet” (here in the NW). Tonight’s experiment, as per one of your readers comments, is trying out our free stove top popcorn popper to make kettle corn. Off to research recipes!!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Haha, great husbands do think alike :)!! I’m really intrigued by this homemade kettle corn as well–we’ve never done it before, but it sounds delicious. Happy popping!

  57. I remember when I was still a kid, my grand father had this old popcorn maker. It was like I was so fascinated seeing how each bullet popped and turned into cloud-like creatures. It was one of the greatest experience I have. Now, I have two kids and one of their favorites is caramel popcorn.

  58. Mrs. Frugalista says:

    Guess what I’m getting for my B-day? You guess it! A popcorn maker with organic kernels. I’d been looking for alternatives to replace the sugar ladden cookies for snack. I’ve never been a big fan of the microwaveable popcorn bags so I’m pumped to try this!

  59. Sleepyhead says:

    We have the same popcorn maker! I found mine at a second hand store for $1; it’s probably been around since the 1980’s but it still works really well thanks to the sturdy American engineering!

  60. I just want to say how impressed I am that within this post and all of the comments, not one single person misspelled pop for poop. Not sure what an Air-Pooper would look like anyways. =P

  61. Kathy says:

    You guys are too funny! I am picturing your neighbors. Ha ha. I might add that this is a great VEGAN snack, too, minus any dairy butter or cheese, of course – but there is nooch (nutritional yeast). YAY for you!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Haha, yeah, our neighbors think we’re pretty funny :). And, great point about it being a vegan snack–extra bonus for popcorn!

  62. brookst says:

    Popcorn brings such happy memories for me. My mom was/is super frugal. Heck she grew up without indoor plumbing. She knows how to keep it simple. As kids if we went to a movie she would make a batch of popcorn (in the air popper or stove top) and put it into an old bread bag (who needs ziploc) and send us to the movie. Unfortunately we always ate it in line before we ever took our seats.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s awesome! Popcorn is one of those fun memory snacks for sure. We ate it a lot growing up and so I always associate it with watching movies at home with my family 🙂

  63. ARBM says:

    We LOVE popcorn! It is definitely our go-to snack as well. But we don’t have an air-popper. Mine died a few years back, and since then we have moved to the slightly less healthy stove-top popping method (rather than buy a new popper). This means that our popcorn making does require a bit of oil, but with a pot specifically reserved for popcorn making, this is getting less and less required as the pot becomes more seasoned (no washing, just take all the popcorn bits out of the pot after each use). Yum!

  64. Fiby says:

    Haha my frugal snack is unsalted peanuts. Calorically dense and easy to take anywhere.

    I thought switching from salted to unsalted peanuts would be hard, but it was surprisingly easy.

  65. Tee Tee says:

    Probably a little late to the party here, but, you will all be excited to know, the hot air popper is the choice of HOME COFFEE ROASTERS everywhere.
    Yes. It is how you make your OWN COFFEE from green bulk coffee beans. My sisters husband has been doing this in the garage for years. The whole neighborhood smells delightful when he is roasting those beans.

  66. Wowza,

    You two are hilarious, and genius! I love to read your posts. I am a big-time popcorn lover and frugal maniac, so this article hit the nail on the head for me! Thank you for sharing, and keep up the great work!


  67. Jamie says:

    I loooove popcorn!! I must make it on the stove in a big pot. So delicious and so cheap!!

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