Merlot Mudpies

Can a blog be about gardening, cancer, family, food and life all at the same time? Oh good.

Snacks — The Budget Buster August 31, 2009

I once wept to my husband, “Could you PLEASE keep your cravings to something that DOESN’T cost us $11.00 a lb.??” when thwarted in the process of making pesto one night. I reached for my bag of pine nuts only to find 8 or 10 measly little kernels remaining in the bottom of what had been a huge, full Costco-sized bag the week before.

This is one of the biggest problems for me with frugal cooking and household budgeting: My husband is a rabid snacker. He willingly and appreciatively takes leftovers to work for his lunches (I only occassionally get them back uneaten and that’s usually when a hankering for rolled tacos just cannot be avoided…totally understandable!) But he is a big man, an extremely active surfer, and has a big appetite. When Ry comes home from work or surfing and when he’s up late doing freelance or 3-D modeling, he wants handy snacks that are easily accessible and he wants them in huge proportions. If I don’t have them around then things like this happen:

An entire box of granola bars disappears in one night
An entire 1.2 lbs bag of pine nuts goes missing
A large box of cereal disappears in one night
Half a bag of string cheese vaporizes when I’ve left the house for an hour

To put this in perspective, he’s about 6ft 3 or 4, wears a 3X wet suit to accommodate the breadth of his shoulders and chest, and will surf for 6 or 7 hours in the course of a day quite easily when the swell is good. He burns through calories like other people burn through….uh…well, I can’t come up with a good comparison — but something that burns quickly and people use a lot of! Anything else I can think of falls short when it comes to his appetite when it hits.

So, here are some things I already do:
Buy whatever fruit he likes that’s on sale and keep it handy as consistently as I can
To cut cost on cereal I use coupons and combine them with sales to keep cereal costs low
I also make homemade granola (TY to Mary at Owlhaven’s Granola Recipe in Family Feasts for $75 a Week) to lighten the cereal costs
Buy block cheese on sale and slice it myself so it’s easily accessible for snacks
Keep cookie dough on hand so I can easily bake up a batch of cookies on a whim

Two things that Ryan LOVES and I haven’t figured out are:
Spiced nuts

Microwave popcorn is expensive and not all that healthy. I make popcorn in a pot but sometimes I’m asleep when the craving hits or I’m just exhausted. Does anyone know of a way to keep popcorn fresh? Does anyone make seasoned popcorn? How does it keep?

Spiced nuts I’m going to look in to today at the store. I’d like to see about finding recipes for spiced nuts so that, when raw nuts are on sale in bulk I can buy them, season them and roast them myself, and then keep them handy to fulfill some of his needs for protein.

So what do you do for easy snacks? Do any of you have men/sons like mine with big appetites and for whom meals or leftovers won’t always do? I’d love to hear suggestions!


7 Responses to “Snacks — The Budget Buster”

  1. Teri Says:

    My husband likes Alton Brown’s recipes so I’ve gotten him to try some unusual ingredients in snacks thanks to the snack bar episode of Good Eats (titled “Power Trip”) and there is a popcorn episode (“Pop Culture”) too. I like AB’s ideas, like making your own popcorn salt & seasonings plus there is a hack for making your own microwave popcorn (read the comments, there are suggestions about how to close the paper bad so you don’t have to use staples in a microwave).

    My other snack hack is to prepackage your own bulk foods into grab bags & put them in FRONT of other tasty treats so hubby will be more likely to pick up the cheap eats first. We like Quaker Crunchy Corn Bran cereal in trail mix (and my toddler loves it by itself). Another cheap treat is to make mini muffins trays of bread-y stuff. They won’t stay fresh as long but you can boost the calorie/nutrition value with flax seeds, flaked coconut, etc. One crowd pleaser I carry to potlucks is crescent roll dough (I cheat- I buy the cheap refrigerator stuff- come school me on how to do better!) then roll it into sheets of dough and fill it with a mix of cream cheese + savory (bacon, herbs, onions) or sweet (dried apricots, stewed fruit reduction) & make a pinwheel roll that you slice & bake.

  2. merlotmudpies Says:

    Teri — these are GREAT suggestions and I love, love, love that there is a snack bar episode of GE. GREAT tip. I’ll go check it out.

  3. owlhaven Says:

    Try an Asian market for cheap raw peanuts. Then toss with a little oil, garlic salt, and paprika or chili powder, and bake at 300 for 10-15 minutes.

  4. owlhaven Says:

    We also make extra breakfast pancakes and then put peanut butter on them for snacks for my hungry big boys.


  5. merlotmudpies Says:

    I don’t know if the pancakes would fly with Ryan but that’s a fantastic idea for my son! And the peanut idea is BRILLIANT! I’m going to another favorite shop with bulk items and I’ll check the prices on raw peanuts there today as well.

    Okay — we really like Chili Lime cashews…what can I do to recreate the sour taste without making them soggy? Play around with this and report back. I’ve got some lime juice cubes saved up and I’ll try this tonight.

  6. merlotmudpies Says:

    ps the ONLY reason it wouldn’t fly with Ry is he’s not generally a big fan of peanut butter. but i’m still going to test this tip out!

  7. […] same as Mary’s given that she’s feeding ten kids and I’m only feeding one and a ravenous husband, but I’ve come to terms with it.  Honest.  Mostly.  Sort […]

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