Are Those Snack Attacks Ruining Your Budget?

November 7, 2008 – 3:01 pm

If you have a few family members who are regular “snackers”, you probably have a grocery bill that could use some help.  Every time you buy bags of chips, dip, pretzels, ice cream, candy, frozen mini pizzas, and other yummies, your money is disappearing faster than you even want to imagine. You’ve been working hard on a budget that will get your family on solid financial ground and the snacking is undermining everything you’re trying to accomplish. 

Of course, you can ask your family to stop snacking and you can stop buying treats.  But, it’s part of the things you do as a family, we snack as we watch the game on TV or grab an ice cream bar on the way outside to play some hoops; those are the pleasures of snacking.  I don’t want to give that all up, do you?  The way out of this snacking expense is very much like the way out of any unwanted expense.  Find alternatives to the things that are costing you too much money.

One treat I go back to time after time is popcorn.  You’re better off, expense-wise and nutrition-wise, buying popcorn that you make yourself using a popper, which will pay for itself very rapidly.  You control the amount of oil, butter, and other flavorings.  Homemade popcorn, even with salt and butter, is far less expensive and much more nutritious than microwave popcorn or bags of chips. Your family is not going to feel deprived if they see a nice, hot bowl of homemade buttery popcorn on family movie night. 

Replace as many store bought treats as you can with homemade treats.  If you are like me and love your potato chips, have you tried making homemade chips yet?  You’ll  want to purchase a potato slicer gadget because they slice much thinner than you can with a knife, are safer, and the slicer will pay for itself quickly.  You just slice the potatoes up according to the directions, oven roast them, and you have your very own crispy, homemade potato chips.  The flavor and the cost savings is well worth the extra time.  If you do indulge in store bought potato chips, dish up a small serving in a bowl.  Never sit down with the whole bag;  it will disappear before you know it.

Ice cream treats can get very expensive.  Replacing the prepackaged ice cream treats with scoopable ice cream will reduce the cost.  Being very stringent about the size of a scoop of ice cream will help reduce the cost per serving.  As silly as this sounds, if you can find some inexpensive little dessert bowls, the ice cream will seem a bit more elegant and special, and no one will feel they’re missing out.  You may also be able to satisfy your youngsters desire for an ice cream treat by offering another less expensive frozen treat like a homemade popsicle made with lemonade, orange juice, or apple juice.  Sometimes it’s just a sweet tooth nagging and anything sweet will do. 

Just stopping to think before you buy that prepackaged treat and thinking how you might replace it with something less expensive, perhaps homemade, snack will begin to save you some real money. You may need to be creative so your family doesn’t feel deprived, but you can do it.  That’s what you do best!

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