by Vanessa Voltolina
Most of us know that preparing food at home can save some serious cash. Take fiber-rich popcorn: You can buy 10 single-serving microwave bags for around $10, or air-pop more than four times as many kernels for a measly $13.
Not only does making snacks at home help bulk up your wallet, but it’s also a tried-and-true method for slimming down. While prepping our main meals may be a no-brainer, taking a DIY approach to snacks can provide easy, on-the-go nourishment for less than the store-bought varieties.
We spoke with a few nutrition experts – including Nadia Rodman, the director of nutrition for Curves International, Inc., Amanda Turner, registered dietitian for Curves International, Inc. and Junelle Lupiani, registered dietitian for Miraval Resort & Spa — to get some of their favorite at-home snack suggestions. Here are five sumptuous snacks and how each one can save you money, and methods for easily upping nutritional content.
The Snack: Dried Apples
To make dried apples, just thinly slice an apple on the cross section. “Each apple gives about 15 slices,” explains Lupiani. “Then, place the slices single file on a baking sheet and place in a 225 degree F preheated oven. After about an hour, flip them, and let them bake for another hour. Remove from the oven and let them cool; they are ready to serve. Other fruit, like berries, work great too. “You don’t even need to do much prep work, just wash and dry them, and then place them on the cookie sheet and bake on 225 degrees F for two hours.”
Better nutrition: Baked apples are sweet already, so there’s no need to pile on extra salt or sugar. Plus, it’s an easy, convenient way to get at least one of your daily servings of fruit!
Why homemade saves: Small bags of dried fruit (around 2 ounces) can cost upwards of $5, depending on where you buy. “The price tag on pre-made dried fruit always comes as a shock to me, especially since I am aware of how easy it is to do-it-yourself,” says Lupiani. Save on fresh fruit by purchasing when it’s in season; so, dried apples will be particularly cost-effective to DIY during the fall months. “Store dried apples in an airtight container where they remain good for the week,” says Lupiani.
The Snack: Hummus
“Making hummus at home is easy and extremely cost efficient,” says Turner. “Plus, you can make any flavor you want simply by adding different roasted veggies!”
Better nutrition: Up the nutritional ante of hummus by adding in vegetables for flavor. Turner suggests a garlic, spinach, and tomato mixture, or roasted red pepper. “The more you add, the higher the nutritional value!”
Why homemade saves: Buying fresh items and preparing yourself is almost always cheaper than buying pre-made. “You can even buy your beans dry rather than canned and save even more,” she says.
The Snack: Kale Chips
Baking chips at home isn’t just easy and cost effective, but produces a healthier snack than store-bought options, confirms Rodman.
Better nutrition: Rodman suggests trying yams instead of white potatoes, or kale chips instead of potato chips. While all potatoes have great nutrition, kale gives you even more antioxidants, Vitamin K, Vitamin C and Vitamin A.
Why homemade saves: A bunch of kale, when in season, is roughly $1-$1.50 — a bag of potato chips can cost $4 or $5.
The Snack: Nut Butter
What’s better than smooth, rich nut butter on a slice of whole wheat bread or with a piece of fruit? By making it yourself, you’ll know exactly what nuts – and how much sodium – are making their way into your mixture.
Better nutrition: The experts from Curves International, Inc. recommend blending a variety of nuts to increase the nutritional value.
Why homemade saves: All natural, homemade nut butter is much cheaper than store bought “since you can buy the peanuts in bulk and make any size portions at any time,” says Turner.
The Snack: Fruit & Yogurt Parfait
Yogurt is an ideal snack staple, since it’s portable, filling, and usually clocks in between 100 and 200 calories. Instead of buying individual containers with fruit on the bottom, consider creating your own parfaits for total customization – and a lower price tag. Lupiani suggests purchasing “the largest container of vanilla yogurt,” and then “into a portable container, portion out 1 cup of yogurt and add ¼ cup of your favorite granola. From there, add whatever fruit you have available, either dried or fresh like berries, kiwi and banana.”
Better nutrition: Adding a variety of fruit to your parfait, says Turner.
Why homemade saves: Buy bulk yogurt and oatmeal, as well as fruit that is in season or frozen, to reduce costs.
Hummus Recipe by Amanda Turner
15oz. can garbanzo beans (425g)
¼ cup lemon juice (1 whole lemon, squeezed)
½ large garlic clove
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
½ teaspoon salt
½-1 teaspoon cumin
2-3 tablespoons water
1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine tahini and lemon juice. Process for 1 minute.
2. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl then turn on and process for 30 seconds. Add the olive oil, minced garlic, cumin, and the salt to whipped tahini and lemon juice. Process for 30 seconds, scrape sides and bottom of bowl then process another 30 seconds.
3. Add half of the chickpeas to the food processor then process for 1 minute.
4. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl, add remaining chickpeas and process for 1 to 2 minutes or until thick and quite smooth.
5. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water and process until smooth.
Enjoy with your favorite dipping veggies!
A 3 tablespoon serving: 90 calories | 3g protein | 9g carbohydrate | 3g fiber | 4g fat
Kale Chip Recipe by Nadia Rodman
1 ½ cups kale – chopped
2 teaspoons oil – olive
1 garlic clove
pepper – black (ground)
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
2. Spray sheet pan with cooking spray.
3. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and spread on a sheet pan.
4. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until crisp.
50 calories | 4g protein | 9g carbohydrate | 2g fiber | 0g fat
Nut Butter Recipe by Amanda Turner
15oz shelled and skinned peanuts (or other nut)
Place the peanuts in a food processor and process for 1 minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl and process an additional 2 minutes or until you reach the desired creaminess.
A 2 tablespoon serving: 200 calories | 8g protein | 6g carbohydrate| 2g fiber | 16g fat
Yogurt Parfait Recipe by Amanda Turner
6 oz plain, reduced fat Greek yogurt
½ cup fresh or frozen fruit
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoon rolled oats
1. Mix honey and oats thoroughly. Broil in the oven until golden colored and crunchy.
2. Combine yogurt and fruit in a small bowl. Sprinkle toasted oats on top.
215 calories | 20g protein | 28g carbohydrate | 2g fiber | 3g fat