cheap snacks en-US 12 Delicious, Healthy, and Inexpensive Snack Options <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-delicious-healthy-and-inexpensive-snack-options" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="snacks" title="snacks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Eating a balanced, whole foods diet can, at times, seem expensive and inconvenient. However, it&#39;s worthwhile to eat well for better energy levels, mental clarity, and general health &mdash; and this involves actual meals <em>plus</em> smart snacking. It&#39;s true that many of the packaged snacks on the shelves in your local health food store cost more than their conventional counterparts. (See also: <a href="">Healthy Road Trip Snacks</a>)</p> <p>Here are some ideas that are a little, well, out of the box.</p> <h2>1. Fruits and Veggies</h2> <p>It doesn&#39;t get easier or less expensive than simple fruits and vegetables. To save on spending, try to pick up produce at your local farmers market or buy seasonal fruit and vegetables at the store. Some varieties, as you know, even come with their own natural packaging, like bananas, oranges, avocados, and apples. For the rest, just wash, chop, and portion ahead of time for a quick, grab-n-go snacking experience. (See also: <a href="">Fruits and Vegetables By the Month</a>)</p> <h2>2. Homemade Energy Bars/Chunks</h2> <p>Store-bought snack bars can really add up week after week. Making them at home is far more simple than you&#39;d think. All you need to do is fill your grocery bag with some key ingredients and get the <a href="">master recipe</a> down. Once you&#39;re more comfortable, the customizing part is up to you.</p> <h2>3. Hummus</h2> <p>Hummus is packed with protein and a healthy snack that can be combined with vegetables for some extra crunch. Of course, you can always pick up a tub in your grocer&#39;s refrigerated section, but I challenge you to save your pennies by making your own. To make this <a href="">basic spread</a>, all you need is a can of chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, water and some salt and pepper to taste. (See also: <a href="">Tasty, Frugal Chickpea Recipes</a>)</p> <h2>4. Peanut Butter</h2> <p>The healthy fats and protein in peanut butter make it a popular choice for dunking fruits and vegetables, spreading between two slices of bread, and topping crackers. If you&#39;ve checked out the nut butter aisle lately, you might have some sticker shock. Consider making your own satisfying spread. It&#39;s as simple as <a href="">pulsing together dry roasted peanuts and salt</a>. Not convinced?</p> <h2>5. Applesauce</h2> <p>Another way to get a heaping helping of fruit in for the day is via applesauce. Store varieties come packaged for individual use, but that convenience factor comes with a price (and negative environmental impact). Good news! You can <a href="">make fresh applesauce</a> on your stovetop in 15 minutes flat &mdash; and you don&#39;t even need to skin the apples.</p> <h2>6. DIY Trail Mix</h2> <p>Delicious dried fruit and nut combinations, aka trail mix, are some of the most satisfying, yet wildly expensive snack options on the market. To lessen the blow, head to the bulk foods section and stock up on raisins, dried cranberries, dried apples, pretzels, chocolate chips, cashews, peanuts, coconut flakes, almonds, and whatever else sounds delicious and mix up a batch of your own. Your stomach &mdash; and wallet &mdash; will thank you. (See also: <a href="">Bulk Buying Basics</a>)</p> <h2>7. Smoothies</h2> <p>It&#39;s tempting to grab a smoothie at the local hut. Often, though, those tall cups come with more than ice, juice, and fruit. Added sugar can be sneaky. With a little foresight, you can save big on this popular snack. Provided you have freezer space, it&#39;s simple to buy some frozen fruit in bulk. Search online, there are a number (OK, millions) of <a href="">healthy smoothie recipes</a> (from simple to complex) you can try out.</p> <h2>8. Cereal</h2> <p>If a crunch is all you&#39;re after, a small bowl of cereal made with whole grains might do the trick. Watch for sugar content even if the label promises wholesome ingredients and be sure to shop for deals and use coupons whenever possible. And if you&#39;re into DIY, you actually can experiment with <a href="">making your own cereal</a> &mdash; but the savings doesn&#39;t always justify the effort.</p> <h2>9. Oatmeal</h2> <p>Another idea often overlooked is lining your office shelf or kitchen cabinets with oatmeal mix. You can buy store-brand varieties relatively inexpensively that are either plain or full of all sorts of extras. For the most cash back in your pocket &mdash; you guessed it! &mdash; you can make your own. Here&#39;s a fantastic tutorial on <a href="">DIY oatmeal packets</a>, for breakfast <em>or</em> snacks. (See also: <a href="">11 Ways to Eat Oats</a>)</p> <h2>10. Yogurt</h2> <p>This dairy (or non-dairy) product comes in quite a few varieties from Greek to Balkan-style to coconut-cultured. Navigating your way through all the different types can be daunting, but once you find your favorite, you&#39;ll be filling your belly with healthy probiotics, among other things. To save, consider buying a larger tub &mdash; which 9.9 times out of 10 boasts a lower unit price than individual cups &mdash; and scoop into snack containers. You can purchase whatever flavor you like, but be sure to mix in whatever fruit or sweetener that strikes your fancy.</p> <h2>11. Crackers</h2> <p>Crackers make a smart partner for many of these snack items (hummus, peanut butter, and even yogurt), as well as on their own. Shop around for sales, coupons, or bulk buys for your best bet money-wise. You can also make anything you desire at home from copycat <a href="">Wheat Thins</a> to <a href="">Whole Wheat Goldfish</a> crackers.</p> <h2>12. Hard-Boiled Eggs</h2> <p>At the beginning of each week, I like to hard-boil a carton of eggs to store in the fridge. We use these eggs mashed up in sandwiches, atop green leafy salads, and even on their own. It&#39;s no secret that eggs are one of those awesome budget buys, but if you check around, you might even find a neighbor of friendly farmer selling local, cage-free choices for less. As for preparation, <a href="">Martha Stewart&#39;s method</a> is my favorite. (See also: <a href="">How to Make Perfectly Cooked Eggs</a>)</p> <p><em>What healthy, inexpensive foods do you snack on? Anything we missed? Share your ideas below!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="12 Delicious, Healthy, and Inexpensive Snack Options" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Marcin</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="">Food and Drink articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink cheap snacks healthy snacks snacks Thu, 30 Jan 2014 19:15:33 +0000 Ashley Marcin 3738 at 6 Compact Airplane Snacks for Frequent Fliers <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-compact-airplane-snacks-for-frequent-fliers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Father and child on a plane." title="Father and child on a plane." class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Those who spend a significant amount of time on the road know that being stuck on a plane with no food service after running to make it through security and leaving your house at oh-crap-thirty in the morning does nothing but suck. Being prepared with sustenance without cutting into precious luggage space can be tricky. These six suggestions for compact and easy airborne snacking will satisfy your craving without over-stuffing your carry-on. (See also: <a target="_blank" href="">Precision Packing Tips for the Frequent Business Traveler</a>)</p> <h2>1. Powdered Drink Mixes</h2> <p>One of the more efficient <a target="_blank" href="">travel uses for water</a> is the preparation of powdered drink mixes on the plane. You can either mix them in your own reusable water bottle by pouring the drink mix in along with the free water provided by the flight attendants, or mix portions of your drink powder at a time in the smaller drinking cups the airlines make available. Adults might prefer a fitness drink powder such as Propel or a low-calorie lemonade mix packet like Crystal Light. Alternatively, you can add this to your list of <a target="_blank" href="">tips for frugal family travel</a> by packing drink mixes more suited to young people.</p> <h2>2. Instant Oatmeal Envelopes</h2> <p>There are also numerous <a target="_blank" href="">savvy ways to use hot water while traveling</a>, including being able to enjoy a hearty serving of oatmeal on the plane. My secret strategy for doing this involves one of my favorite <a target="_blank" href="">Whole Foods bargains</a> for travelers, the 365 brand boxes of organic instant oatmeal envelopes. Remember, the airlines make hot water available for coffee and tea just like they make cool water available for basic hydration. By mixing your oatmeal packet along with hot water in an insulated coffee cup, you&rsquo;ve got yourself a healthy bite to take the edge off. You can sip the oatmeal from the cup, use the flatware from the plane, or pack your own if you&rsquo;re the type of indie traveler who usually packs your own <a target="_blank" href="">zero-waste lunch kit</a> anyway.</p> <h2>3. Individual Soup Mixes</h2> <p>I pick these up at the grocery store and use them the same way I use the individual oatmeal packets above. Simply pour them into the insulated coffee cup the attendant gives you and add the hot water to make soup instead of tea. There are a number of varieties for you to choose from, but if you&rsquo;re going to be mixing them up in the coffee cups anyway, why take up the extra luggage room with those soup-in-a-cup products? Simply purchase the ones in the flat envelopes to maximize your carry-on space.</p> <h2>4. Cracker Sandwiches</h2> <p>You can buy individually wrapped cracker sandwiches <a target="_blank" href="">by the case at Costco</a> or your nearest Sam&rsquo;s Club. I&rsquo;ve seen cases go for $8 or less, resulting in a multi-trip supply that&rsquo;s within most people&rsquo;s budgets. They may not be the heartiest option, nor the healthiest, but they will take the edge off without costing a great deal of dough.</p> <h2>5. Power Bars</h2> <p>Personally, I&rsquo;m pretty much a power-bar girl when it comes to being prepared for long flights and missed connection drama. Both my daypack and my main bag have zippered pockets at the top that allow me to easily reach in and grab one when my head starts to pound from hunger. You can pay $2 to $3 a pop for them, or you can <a target="_blank" href="">make the case for an Amazon membership</a> to your significant other and order them by the case to be delivered to your home. When I&rsquo;m on the road for a few weeks at a time and run out, I can order replacements on <a target="_blank" href="">my Kindle Fire</a> and have them delivered in advance to the next hotel I&rsquo;ll be staying at.</p> <h2>6. Trail Mix</h2> <p>You can certainly bring some from home, but as I covered in a previous article on <a target="_blank" href="">how to score free travel food</a>, trail mix packages are a great way to use the free meal vouchers that come with delayed flights. Often, the next flight availability is unpredictable, making a trip to the nearest restaurant a no go. Using the shorter time slots to grab snacks for the plane is a savvy way to <a target="_blank" href="">handle a flight delay</a> and grab some in-flight snacks at the same time.</p> <p><em>Do you have some favorite airplane snacks that also help save space?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="6 Compact Airplane Snacks for Frequent Fliers" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Staff</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink Travel air travel cheap snacks travel food Thu, 11 Apr 2013 09:48:32 +0000 Staff 972578 at Throwing Awesome Parties on a Budget <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/throwing-awesome-parties-on-a-budget" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Backyard Party" title="Backyard Party" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When you start living on a budget, you might think parties will be the first thing to go. But consider an important philosophical question &mdash; what good is life without parties and revelry? You work hard, and it's not so you can live in a tiny apartment and eat rocks. It's worth splurging on the little things every now and again. Even when you do decide to indulge a bit, you can do so on a budget. Put simply &mdash; you don't need a ton of money to throw a killer party everyone will remember. (See also: <a href="">Class Without Tons of Cash: Frugal Cocktail Party&nbsp;Ideas</a>)</p> <h2>What Makes for a Great Party?</h2> <p>A great party is made up of four key elements, whether we're talking about your 6-year-old son's birthday party or a cultured soiree for the grownups. These elements are:</p> <ul> <li>Good People</li> <li>Good Food</li> <li>Good Drinks</li> <li>Fun Stuff to Do</li> </ul> <p>The first and fourth can be free. If you're partying on a budget, you're probably going to be able to do a better job on the middle two than you might think.</p> <h2>Good People</h2> <p>Good people is something that I can't really help you with. You either know them or you don't. Fortunately, getting them to your party is easier (and more affordable) than ever. Putting the word out on social networks, then gently reminding people to show up is a sure-fire method of packing your party with interesting people. One of the biggest gambles people take when attending a party is knowing if anyone good will be there. A Facebook page for your party will let people know precisely who to expect. Make sure to get people to RSVP!</p> <h2>Good Food</h2> <p>If you want a party with truly good food, you need to start cooking. While you can purchase bulk foods at discount prices, you've moved past the point in your life where a bag of Cheetos in a bowl counts for party snacks. Instead, focus on doing either one large thing very well or several little things that all stand out. It's easier than you think to prepare snacks, and while I'm not going to advise anyone to serve nothing but Ritz Crackers, you ate a ton of Ritz Crackers with cheese on top when you were a kid for a reason &mdash; they're delicious.</p> <p>Don't write off the idea of having a potluck, either. These aren't just an excuse for you to save money on cooking supplies. Particularly in foodie circles, you'll find that a potluck is a bit like a rap battle. Everyone is going to be bringing their &quot;A&quot; game. This allows you to have top-quality food at your party with little cost to you, while also making an affordable party even more of an event.</p> <h2>Good Drinks</h2> <p>Let's assume that by &quot;good drinks&quot; we mean &quot;good drinks for adults,&quot; by which we mean &quot;booze.&quot; Building a <a href="">home bar on a budget</a> is a whole article on its own. However, there are some guiding principles to filling your bar with good drink that are especially applicable when hosting a party:</p> <ul> <li>Nearly every cocktail can be made if you have a bottle each of scotch, bourbon, gin, rum, and vodka. Barring either expensive taste or prolific drinking ability, a good bar set up is going to put you back about $50.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Take care of wine and beer by encouraging guests to BYOB on that front. Stress that you will take care of the hard stuff, and no one will have a problem.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>As if this needed saying &mdash; better doesn't always mean more expensive, and a lot of this has to do with taste. The present author can't stomach Bushmill's, but loves drinking Grant's neat. Conversely, he understands the appeal of Grey Goose, but not Bombay Sapphire. Your mileage may vary, but the ultimate determiner is always taste.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If your friends are the &quot;Kool-Aid + Booze = FUN!&quot; types, a large bottle of just about anything will do. A bottom-shelf handle of Bourbon and another of vodka will probably keep this crowd happy. We know that college is over, but whatever. Some people aren't super choosy, and that's OK.&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p>Put simply &mdash; set a budget, stick to it, and buy the most diverse liquor cabinet you can afford.</p> <h2>Fun Stuff to Do</h2> <p>This literally does not require a dime of expenditure on your party. &quot;Fun stuff to do&quot; might mean nothing more than enjoying a meal and good company. It might mean something as elaborate as projecting a film onto the wall of your apartment. Many times the good people part takes care of this. Still, even the most well-intentioned parties have a habit of dying grizzly deaths. When this happens, rely on the following:</p> <ul> <li>Mental <a href="">games</a> seem to be coming back in style. Having a copy of a question book like <i>If...</i> or a game might elicit groans from cynics at first. See how many cynics are left in 15 minutes.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Forget what your mother told you &mdash; people love talking about politics, sex, and religion.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>While it won't work with CDs, going through a pile of old, musty records is quite an experience, especially at the end of the night when a party is dying down.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Even just natural social graces can count as fun stuff to do. If you are a particularly adept matchmaker, you will also be good at introducing people in such a way that no one will notice or care that witty banter is &quot;all&quot; your party had to offer.</li> </ul> <h2>Getting the Most Out of Your Low-Budget Party</h2> <p>A lot of throwing the perfect low-budget party is appreciating the simpler things in life and paying attention to the small details that matter. Think back on the best parties you've ever been to. What is it that made them great? Chances are, it had little-to-nothing to do with how much money was spent. The secret to revelry on a budget is recognizing that it is far more subtle things that make for a good time.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Throwing Awesome Parties on a Budget" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Nicholas Pell</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Entertainment Food and Drink Home alcohol cheap parties cheap snacks hosting Thu, 17 Nov 2011 11:36:30 +0000 Nicholas Pell 787805 at Sweet and Salty Snacks You Can Make at Home <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/sweet-and-salty-snacks-you-can-make-at-home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Salted chocolate" title="Salted chocolate" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Americans &mdash; like no other culture &mdash; love their junk food. We&rsquo;ll stuff our faces with treats salty and sweet until we&rsquo;re intoxicated with saturated-fat euphoria.</p> <p>But what we love even more than sweet snacks and salty snacks separately are the two flavor profiles combined to create mouth nirvana of the highest degree.</p> <p>To get your double-the-pleasure fix without leaving the kitchen, check out these easy-to-make budget-friendly sweet-and-salty recipes. (See also: <a href="">Quick&nbsp;Pantry Snacks for Unexpected Guests</a>)</p> <h3>Sweet-and-Salty Pumpkin Seeds</h3> <p>This <a href="">sweet-and-salty pumpkin seeds recipe</a> is easy to make, whether as a quick snack for yourself or finger food at your next fall fete. With only five ingredients &mdash; pumpkin seeds, unsalted butter, sugar, salt, and ground cinnamon &mdash; this crowd pleaser is packed with flavor and takes just over an hour to bake.</p> <h3>Fall Sweet-and-Salty Treat</h3> <p>If you want to satisfy your salty-sweet craving but have no time to fuss with prep work or an oven, this <a href="">fall sweet and salty treat &ldquo;recipe&rdquo;</a> is for you. Just combine two cups of candy corn with an equal amount of dry-roasted peanuts to create a treat that tastes like a Payday candy bar.</p> <h3>Sweet-and-Salty Popcorn</h3> <p><a href="">Gluten-free</a> dieters, rejoice! This <a href="">sweet-and-salty popcorn</a> is for you. After popping fresh popcorn, toss it with a butter-and-powered-sugar syrup (using gluten-free ingredients, of course), and sprinkle the coated corn with a teaspoon of salt. Great for a chilly evening in front of the tube.</p> <h3>Chocolate-Dipped Pretzels</h3> <p>This is probably my all-time favorite salty-sweet combo snack; melt-in-your-mouth chocolate combined with the crunch of a pretzel is the stuff culinary legends are made of. For a pared-down version of this <a href="">chocolate-dipped pretzel recipe</a>, all you&rsquo;ll need is a 12-ounce package of semisweet chocolate chips, a tablespoon of shortening, and your favorite brand of pretzel &mdash; preferably the larger-sized kind, so you can dip them more easily. If you want to get fancy, once the pretzels are dipped, dip them again in a plate of sprinkles or small candies like mini M&amp;M&rsquo;s.</p> <h3>Sweet-and-Salty Snack Mix (for the holidays)</h3> <p>When Land O&rsquo;Lakes created this <a href="">sweet-and-salty snack mix recipe</a>, they were sure not to mention any other brand names. Luckily, I can tell what the generic descriptions of the ingredients are by looking at the photo. You&rsquo;ll need Bugles corn snacks, a box of Wheat Chex, small pretzel twists, pecan halves, and festive M&amp;M&rsquo;s, among a few other kitchen staples, like corn syrup, salt, vanilla, and, yes, Land O&rsquo;Lakes butter, to create this delicious mix. In total, you&rsquo;ll get about 10 cups of salty-sweet mix.</p> <h3>Chocolate Turtle Sweet-and-Salty Snack</h3> <p>It&rsquo;s interesting to see how creative people can be when they need something salty and sweet right away. This impromptu <a href="">chocolate turtles recipe</a> hardly takes any time at all, which probably means the recipe&rsquo;s author needed her fix &mdash; and fast! To make this chocolate-caramel-pretzel treat in a jiff, place Rolo candies on mini pretzel twists and microwave for a few second until the chocolate is just soft. When you take the pretzels out, top them each with a pecan half. Quick and ingenious.</p> <h3>Sweet-and-Salty Caramel Snack Mix</h3> <p>No matter how you pronounce it, caramel is a silky-smooth confection that knows how to hit the spot. Your homemade version &mdash; using butter, brown sugar, Karo syrup, and vanilla &mdash; will be used to coat a mixture of graham cracker cereal (like Honey Grahams), honey roasted <a href="">peanuts</a>, salted cashews or macadamia nuts, and Pretzel M&amp;M&rsquo;s in this <a href="">sweet-and-salty caramel snack mix recipe</a>. Your mouth is watering already, isn&rsquo;t it?</p> <p><em>Have a sweet-and-salty snack recipe to share? Let the world know in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Sweet and Salty Snacks You Can Make at Home" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink cheap snacks cheap treats recipes sweets Wed, 28 Sep 2011 10:24:22 +0000 Mikey Rox 717240 at 7 Fresh Ideas for Healthy Road Trip Snacks <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-fresh-ideas-for-healthy-road-trip-snacks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Kids in a car" title="Kids in a car" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you&rsquo;re going on a <a href="">family road trip</a>, you really can&rsquo;t escape the need to pack some food. Even if you&rsquo;re planning on eating out or preparing food in the kitchen at your destination, packing a few healthy road trip snacks is still a necessity. Traffic delays, vehicle troubles, and other travel snafus are common enough that at some point you will indeed be dining in your car. Here&rsquo;s how to stay prepared. (See also: <a href="">Meals on Wheels: Four Simple Tips for Dining in Your Car</a>)</p> <h3>Roasted Chickpeas</h3> <p>Typically I&rsquo;d use these more for family movie night than for road trip snacks. That being said, there&rsquo;s no reason you can&rsquo;t take a batch of roasted <a href="">chickpeas</a> in the car with you. Season them with a flavor blend the whole family likes and store them in kid-friendly airtight containers for the road trip. They&rsquo;re crunchy, packed with protein, and perfect for families dealing with peanut allergies.</p> <h3>Canning Jar Anti-Trail Mix</h3> <p>Before all of the world&rsquo;s backpackers descend and accuse me of sacrilege, let me just say that I am indeed a trail mix fan. That being said, when it comes to healthy road trip snacks, I&rsquo;ve found we get more meal mileage by keeping certain items separate. By filling quart-sized <a href="">canning jars</a> with various items such as <a href="">sunflower seed kernels</a>, walnuts, and dried fruit, we have the items we need to mix up trail mix if we desire. However, we also have individual items that can be used for hotel oatmeal toppings, salads, and other simple travel meals.</p> <p>The jars are easy to keep organized in sectioned, fabric wine bags. Remember those ones I pick up for free while <a href="">bargain shopping at Whole Foods</a>? I can easily slip canning jars into the sections designed for individual wine bottles and stand the whole thing upright in a milk crate or clear tub. If we run out of something a few days into the trip, the jars are easy enough to fill up again from the bulk bins at the grocery store.</p> <h3>Sun Tea</h3> <p>Hey, it&rsquo;s not just for your back porch anymore. Using large canning jars filled with water, slip an organic green or white tea bag in and hang the string and paper tag outside of the jar before putting the cover on. If you do this in the morning and store it in a clear tub or milk crate near the back window, you&rsquo;ll have fresh sun tea to pour into your travel mugs by your mid-day stop. Just be sure to pack something soft behind the jar so it doesn&rsquo;t accidentally get cracked. If you use a half-gallon sized canning jar, you&rsquo;ll have enough for several people. Plus, you can start another batch after you distribute the tea from the morning. How cool is that?</p> <h3>Whole Fruit</h3> <p>It doesn&rsquo;t get more low prep than this. Simple, whole fruits like <a href="">bananas</a>, apples, and even seedless grapes make perfect healthy road trip snacks. Keep a container to hold the peels and cores and compost them when you arrive at your destination. It&rsquo;s an easy, zero-waste solution that keeps road food fun and nutritious.</p> <h3>Crudités</h3> <p>They are selling large bags of pre-cut crudités mix now at <a href="">warehouse stores</a> for a song. Pack a jar of homemade <a href="">peanut sauce</a>, or purchase large bulk jars of salad dressings that can also be used as dips. Ranch, honey-mustard, or Vidalia onion flavors all work well, as does the sweet Thai chili sauce in the quart-sized bottle. If you decide to go with the dipping option, then these are more of a snack to enjoy at the rest area. Otherwise, you&rsquo;re going to have sauce all over the car. (Tip: A nice middle-of-the-road option here is to use plain <a href="">peanut butter</a> on the crudités. The kids will dig it, and you&rsquo;ll have less mess than with a thinner sauce.)</p> <h3>Grab and Takes</h3> <p>While you can certainly find a power bar on the market to suit any dietary requirement (halal, vegan, kosher, gluten free), finding an affordable and easy option to make yourself is a great way to control nutrition, cost, and calories. For me, that option is <a href="">breakfast cookies</a>. Easily customized to suit your family&rsquo;s tastes and budget, breakfast cookies can be prepared with chopped walnuts, dried cranberries, <a href="">raisins</a>, and even dates.</p> <h3>Spiced Almonds</h3> <p>With all the health benefits associated with almonds, finding ways to incorporate them into your diet more often just seems to make good sense. Normally, I make <a href="">spiced almonds</a> for holiday treats and hostess gifts. But if we have a long road trip ahead of us, I&rsquo;m not above whipping up a batch for those extra-long days in the vehicle. They taste great, travel well, and provide a serious protein hit precisely when we need it.</p> <p>Whatever road trip snacks you choose, <a href="">keeping food in your car</a> does more than save you money. It saves your sanity when travel difficulties arise. So how about it, readers? Do you have any additional ideas for healthy road trip snacks?</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="7 Fresh Ideas for Healthy Road Trip Snacks" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Staff</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink Travel cheap snacks healthy snacks road trips Wed, 24 Aug 2011 09:48:20 +0000 Staff 675801 at Quick Pantry Snacks for Unexpected Guests <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/quick-pantry-snacks-for-unexpected-guests" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Guests and snacks" title="Guests and snacks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="155" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When you live in a city like New York, unexpected guests are uncommon. It&rsquo;s hard enough getting people to come to my uptown condo with an invitation (city-dwellers tend not to leave their own neighborhoods), so it&rsquo;s a rare occasion when I&rsquo;m surprised by someone popping by unannounced.</p> <p>The suburbs are a different story. For some reason, suburbanites think it&rsquo;s A-OK to hop in the SUV, roll up to someone&rsquo;s home, and knock on the door just because they were &ldquo;in the neighborhood.&rdquo; Call me crazy, but I think that&rsquo;s strange. In fact, if you pulled into my driveway without calling first, I would pretend that I wasn&rsquo;t home, mostly because you&rsquo;re being creepy.</p> <p>Either way, we&rsquo;re all bound to host impromptu guests at some point or another, whether it&rsquo;s the weirdo PTA president from your son&rsquo;s school wanting to discuss the bake sale or your husband&rsquo;s work colleague who needs to kill some time before an event nearby. So you can rise to every occasion, here are some quick snack ideas from your pantry (with a few fridge staples mixed in) to satisfy those last-minute (and, hopefully, wanted) callers. (See also: <a href="">Stretching Meals for Unexpected Guests</a>)</p> <h3>PB&amp;J Bites</h3> <p>There&rsquo;s something about a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich that makes long-buried memories flood right back. Especially if it&rsquo;s on white bread &mdash; which, apparently, nobody eats anymore. To take this old-school classic to the next level for company, use star-shaped cookie cutters to cut out bite-sized pieces of bread that you can slather with a nutty spread and grown-up jams like blackberry or raspberry. Just don&rsquo;t forget to make use of the scraps. Let the unused bread and crust go stale before putting it into a food processor to make homemade breadcrumbs or chopping the pieces into chunks for fresh salad croutons. If you&rsquo;re feeling lazy, at least feed it to the birds.</p> <h3>Doctored-Up Popcorn</h3> <p>Dressing up <a href="">popcorn</a> couldn&rsquo;t be quicker or easier. After three minutes in the microwave, top it with melted butter and Old Bay for a spicy, crab-seasoned kick (a fave that harkens back to my Baltimore roots), or toss it with black pepper and grated Parmesan for a tangy, cheesy kick. Want a little sweetness to balance out the salt? Toss plain popcorn with Milk Duds &mdash; a trick I learned from a lady at a movie theater once. Surprisingly good.</p> <h3>Trail Mix</h3> <p>Get rid of bottom-of-the-jar nuts, raisins, dried fruits, M&amp;Ms, and granola for a hodgepodge of flavor that&rsquo;s surprisingly filling. FYI &mdash; whole cashews and Craisins together are quite the combination.</p> <h3>Sliced Apples and Nutella<o:p></o:p></h3> <p><o:p>Just slice the apples</o:p> (<o:p>and squirt them with lemon juice so they don&rsquo;t brown) and serve them alongside a ramekin of Nutella for a fresh-fruit-and-hazelnut appetizer. Other variations could include melted chocolate </o:p>&mdash;<o:p> semi-sweet chips melt down in minutes in a double boiler </o:p>&mdash;<o:p> or a homemade caramel sauce that can be made by boiling a can of condensed milk for three hours.</o:p></p> <h3>Ritz Cracker Mini-Pizzas</h3> <p>When I took Home Economics in middle school, this was one of the first items we made; latchkey kids need to eat, after all. Top the crackers with a dollop of pizza or pasta sauce, a small handful of cheese, and any other toppings you have on hand. Pop the mini-pizzas in a 400&deg;F oven for a few minutes. Few ingredients, lots of flavor.</p> <h3>Turkey and Cheddar Triscuits</h3> <p>It's as fast as it sounds. Line up the crackers and top with a squirt of Dijon or deli mustard and thin squares of sharp cheddar &mdash; or <em>your</em> favorite cheese &mdash; and a half-slice of turkey. A little tip &mdash; either put the finished product in the fridge until the guests arrive or make five minutes before their ETA. You don&rsquo;t want the fresh meat and cheese to dry out; it&rsquo;s unappetizing.</p> <h3>Jell-O Mold</h3> <p><o:p></o:p>When I would stay with my grandmother on the weekends, she always had fresh Jell-O on hand, which is why I&rsquo;m partial to it. I prefer it plain &mdash; maybe some Cool Whip on top &mdash; but company won&rsquo;t be impressed by that. They will, however, give you props if you spike lime gelatin with booze and toss in some pomegranate seeds or cranberries to create a sweet and sinful treat for the eyes and mouth. It takes two minutes to make and about four hours to set.</p> <h3>Pudding Pops</h3> <p>A great summertime treat. Prepare instant chocolate pudding (in about three minutes) and put the mixture, with sticks, in the freezer for a few hours to harden. Bill Cosby himself couldn&rsquo;t do it better.</p> <h3>Tortilla Chips and Salsa Velveeta</h3> <p>There&rsquo;s a block of Velveeta in my pantry, but I can&rsquo;t remember why I bought it. Unless I can recall, I plan to cut it into cubes, melt it down, and mix it with salsa served along chips. An oldie but still a goodie.</p> <h3>Spiced Honey Pretzels</h3> <p>When I raided my pantry to come up with these snacks, I found a bag of pretzels. In their regular, straight-from-the-bag state, pretzels are nothing special. Enter Google, which has a million and one recipes that take this figure-friendly chip alternative to the next level. I particularly like this recipe for <a href="">Spiced Honey Pretzels</a>. Onion and chili powders marry with the sticky-sweet bees' treat to create a crunchy, no-guilt carb fix.</p> <h3>Garlic Pita Chips With Marinara Sauce</h3> <p>If you have pita bread at home, cut the rounds into quarters, and toss with olive oil, a pinch of salt, dried Italian herbs, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder. Bake the triangles at 450&deg;F for five minutes or until golden and crispy. Serve with warmed pizza or pasta sauce.</p> <h3>Marinated Olives</h3> <p>This <a href="">olive recipe</a> combines lemon with garlic, olive oil, and rosemary. Assorted olives should rest in the mixture for at least an hour so the flavors can properly combine.</p> <h3>Spinach/Ranch Dip</h3> <p>Commercials are fantastic, albeit dangerous. Earlier this year &mdash; probably around <a href="">Super Bowl</a> time &mdash; Hidden Valley Ranch advertised its packet of ranch powder, found in the salad dressing aisle, as a spinach dip. All you&rsquo;ll need is a block of frozen spinach, a large container of sour cream and the ranch powder. It&rsquo;s a speedy recipe, but it does require some fridge time because frozen spinach usually needs to be boiled first, which is quite important to remember; you want to give your guests a light snack, not E. Coli.</p> <h3>Pasta Salad</h3> <p>At any given time there are nine boxes of pasta in my pantry. In the Sunday circulars, there are often coupons for Barilla and other brands, so I stock up. To make an off-the-cuff pasta salad, boil your favorite shape and toss with sun-dried tomatoes, fresh or dried basil, and Italian dressing or pesto sauce. Chill for two hours for a light and filling snack.</p> <p><em>Have go-to snacks that you make for unexpected guests? Let me know what they are in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Quick Pantry Snacks for Unexpected Guests" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink General Tips cheap snacks guests pantry party Thu, 21 Jul 2011 10:36:16 +0000 Mikey Rox 629104 at How to Make Your Own Popcorn <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-make-your-own-popcorn" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="woman eating popcorn" title="woman eating popcorn" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Addictive, fluffy, and crunchy, popcorn is, dare I say it...? The perfect snack.</p> <p>We already know that it makes for great movie noshing. But popcorn can also be one of the healthiest snacks you can make, with three cups of air-popped popcorn coming in at around 90 calories. And humble popcorn can easily satisfy cravings for salty, sweet, and crunchy foods all at once. (See also: <a href="">6 Healthy&nbsp;Snacks That Won't Break the Bank</a>)</p> <p>Of course, we also know that some of the more popular forms of popcorn &mdash; the movie theater fare and microwave-at-home bags &mdash; and not very healthy. Heck, there's even a lung disease nicknamed &quot;<a href=";page=1">popcorn lung</a>&quot; that employees at microwave popcorn factories have developed.</p> <p>Thankfully, healthy popcorn is both easy and inexpensive to make at home. Here are a few methods you can try.</p> <h2>On the Stovetop</h2> <p>This is how I usually make popcorn. I add 3 tbsp of olive or vegetable oil to a large pot and start to heat it over medium-high heat. Then I add a 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels and cover. As soon as it starts to pop, I put on oven mitts and shake the pot, still over the heat. The kernels will begin popping rapidly. When the popping slows down, remove the pot from the heat. Don't wait until you don't hear any kernels popping; there's a good chance that keeping it on the heat that long will burn the kernels on the bottom.</p> <p>Remove the lid. Be careful &mdash; there might be a lot of steam.</p> <p>If you'd like to make kettle corn, follow the same basic steps, but add 1/4 cup vegetable oil and 1/4 cup sugar at the beginning. Feel free to experiment with more or less sugar and oil to taste.</p> <h2>In the Microwave</h2> <p>You don't need Mr. Redenbacher all up in your business in order to make microwave popcorn. Simply take a brown paper lunch bag, add 1/4 cup of kernels, fold the top of the bag down a few times, and microwave it until the popping stops. You can add oil or butter to the bag before popping, or simply add it after.</p> <h2>Other Methods</h2> <p>If you really love popcorn and plan to make it regularly, there are some tools you can buy specifically for popping it, including <a href=";node=1090764#/ref=sr_nr_p_n_feature_browse-b_5?rh=n%3A1055398%2Cn%3A!1063498%2Cn%3A284507%2Cn%3A289913%2Cn%3A289941%2Cn%3A1090764%2Cp_n_feature_browse-bin%3A2447634011&amp;bbn=1090764&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1305068586&amp;rnid=2447616011">hot air poppers</a>, the stovetop <a href=";ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1305068586&amp;sr=1-2">Whirley-Pop</a>, <a href=";ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1305068682&amp;sr=1-3">microwave bowls</a>, and <a href="!1063498%2Cn%3A284507%2Cn%3A289913%2Cn%3A289941%2Cn%3A1090764&amp;bbn=289941&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1305068737&amp;rnid=289941#/ref=sr_nr_p_n_feature_browse-b_2?rh=n%3A1055398%2Cn%3A!1063498%2Cn%3A284507%2Cn%3A289913%2Cn%3A289941%2Cn%3A1090764%2Cp_n_feature_browse-bin%3A2447638011&amp;bbn=1090764&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1305068741&amp;rnid=2447616011">old-fashioned/theater-style popcorn poppers</a>. If you're seriously considering getting one of those last ones, though, you might also want to reconsider just how much popcorn you're eating.</p> <p>And of course, once the popcorn is popped, you can top it with whatever you want (in fact, some of these <a href="">alternative pizza sauces</a> might be quite excellent). If you know of any other particularly delicious topping combinations, please share them in the comments!</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Make Your Own Popcorn" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Meg Favreau</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="">Food and Drink articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink cheap snacks healthy snacks popcorn Wed, 11 May 2011 10:24:09 +0000 Meg Favreau 541083 at