Today I write to ask your advice on a topic near and dear to my frugal heart: snacks! Not just any snacks, mind you, but healthy and frugal snacks. I want the full package here people, and I bet it’s not going to come in a package.
As a lifelong lover and consumer of snacks, I have a broad range of experience with this particular culinary facet. In first grade, I somehow convinced my incredibly health-conscious parents to buy me fruit snacks and granola bars, which were the crème de la crème of playground snacks at Sundance Elementary. I was a connoisseur of gummified sugar and would often swap my more “natural” fruit snacks for my friend’s saccharine and entirely synthetic Gushers (what was IN those things?). Those were the days, as far as snacks were concerned.
My tastes have matured (slightly) as I’ve aged, although I sometimes have a penchant for the simplest of flavors–peanut butter, egg salad, mac-n-cheese–you know, the five-year-old special. But alas, the primary drivers of our snack (and meal) decisions now stem from our three-pronged goal of healthy, tasty, and inexpensive.
My current snack retinue includes:
- Apples, oranges, or pears (whichever is cheapest that week)
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Air-popped popcorn
- Olives (these are more Mr. FW’s thing, but I chomp them from time to time)
- Homemade whole wheat mini muffins with applesauce instead of butter
- Dried fruit (consumed less frequently due to higher cost)
I don’t necessarily eat all of these things everyday (although, let’s be honest, it has happened on occasion), but, this is my basic rotation. I find all of these foodstuffs delectable and, with the exception of the apples/oranges/pears, they’re dirt cheap.
Bananas clock in at $0.39/pound from Stop-n-Shop (Boston-area peeps: bananas are cheaper at Stop-n-Shop than at Market Basket! They’re this price every single week, so it must be a loss leader). Eggs ring up at $1.79 per dozen and air-popped popcorn is too cheap to even calculate.
Our food bill is typically $300-$330/month for the two of us (though we ballooned to $400 last month, whoops) and I’m not looking to add mega bucks onto our grocery expenditures with wild and crazy snack options. We’re able to keep our food costs low by not eating out, preparing just about all of our food from scratch (like bread! and hummus!), and eating very little meat or dairy.
I believe it’s possible to eat well and eat frugal at the same time and we certainly don’t feel that we sacrifice nutrition or flavor with our menu.
But I’m craving some snack variety, folks. And I thought, who better to ask for advice than the Frugalwoods diaspora? I know you frugal people have excellent snacks that you prepare and consume. And I want to know all about them!
We don’t buy much packaged food, so I’m not one for pre-made granola bars, crackers, or chips. And, while I like nuts, they always price out as way too expensive (but if you have a cheap nut source, let me know!). Yes, I do realize what I just wrote and no, I’m not going to edit it.
It’s really too bad that Cheetos are neither healthy nor frugal. I know they’re gross and I know they’re full of chemicals and I know they have zero nutrition, but dang it if they’re not freaking delicious.
I haven’t eaten a Cheeto in nigh on two years now, which is probably for the best. Why, you might ask? Because I’m a chip-destroyer. Any type of chip is not safe in my vicinity, but Cheetos are an especially endangered breed of junk food.
In much the same way as I haven’t bought any clothes in 16 months (and counting), I haven’t purchased any Cheetos either. These two things are not unrelated as Cheetos were one of the contributing factors to me gaining 20 pounds during graduate school (which I subsequently lost, but come on Mrs. FW, Cheeto weight?!).
Sometimes it’s best to know my own limits. And I cannot be trusted around a bag of Cheetos. It’s more like, “Cheetos? There was a bag of Cheetos here? All I see is Mrs. Frugalwoods covered in orange powder…”