When your stomach’s rumbling, it’s easy to reach for the most convenient food available. Often that means you end up mindlessly scarfing down junk food like cookies, chips, and candy. These treats fill you up, but not usually for very long, and they’re hard on both your wallet and your waistline. To help you save money and stay sated, here’s our list of five cheap and filling snack recipes that will save you when hunger strikes.
1. Homemade Bagel Chips
You can transform day-old, slightly stale bagels into crunchy chips in a flash with this recipe from Who Needs a Cape? Then, use any leftover cream cheese from breakfast to make a homemade garlic cheese dip to serve with the chips for a hearty snack. (Cream cheese dip recipe from All Recipes.)
- 1 bagel, sliced into ¼-inch slices
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Sea salt
- ½ package of cream cheese (4 ounces), room temperature
- 4 ounces milk
- Garlic salt
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice bagel, then place in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush with olive oil, then sprinkle with sea salt.
Bake in oven for 12 minutes until crispy. Let cool on a rack, then serve immediately or transfer to an airtight container.
To make the dip, place the cream cheese in a bowl, then soften the cheese with a fork. Slowly pour in the milk while stirring to make a smooth mixture. Season with garlic salt and serve.
2. Homemade Cracker Jack
Settle in for an MLB game with a bowl of homemade Cracker Jack. Popcorn is light and airy, so a small amount quickly fills you up. Plus, this sweet and nutty snack is easy and cheap to make since there’s a good chance you already have most of these ingredients in your pantry. Recipe from The Frugal Girls.
- 2½ cups white sugar
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons pancake syrup
- 1 cup shelled peanuts, unsalted
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 16 cups popped popcorn, unpopped seeds removed
Directions: Combine salt, sugar, and butter in a small saucepan. Turn heat to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes. Stir in pancake syrup and continue to cook.
Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture turns sticky and caramelizes, about 15 minutes. If the sugar starts to burn at any point, turn down the heat and add a little oil or butter to the mix.
Remove the pan from heat and stir in the peanuts, then let stand for about 5 minutes. Pour over the popped popcorn and mix thoroughly. Let cool, then serve.
3. Peanut Butter Oat Bites
No-bake peanut butter oat bites are packed with both healthy protein and good-for-you fiber. Best of all, they cost just 20 cents per serving to make. Recipe from All You.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ⅔ cup creamy natural peanut butter
- ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1½ cups Rice Krispies cereal
- 1 cup quick oats
- ¼ cup raisins
- ¼ cup mini chocolate chips
- ¼ cup finely chopped lightly salted dry-roasted peanuts
Directions: Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove pan from heat and stir in peanut butter, confectioners’ sugar, honey and vanilla. Stir in Rice Krispies and oats and allow mixture to cool.
Stir in raisins and chocolate chips. Form mixture into 1-inch balls, then roll each ball in chopped peanuts, pressing to coat. Store in refrigerator.
4. White Bean Basil Hummus
You already know that hummus is an easy-to-make, budget friendly snack. But if you’ve only been using chickpeas in this go-to dip, you’re missing out. Affordable and filling cannellini beans are a delicious alternative in this non-traditional hummus recipe from Greatist, and using fresh basil from your windowsill herb garden will help keep costs down as well.
- 1 can (14½ ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for garnish
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
- 1 lemon, juiced
- Handful fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
Directions: Combine all ingredients in the bowl a food processor. Blend until smooth, about 3 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Transfer hummus to a bowl and garnish with additional basil, olive oil, and freshly ground black pepper.
5. Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken with Basil
Boneless chicken thighs are one of the most affordable meats out there, making them the perfect protein to reach for when you’re looking for something that will really fill you up. This recipe for popcorn chicken from Sea Salt with Food incorporates soy sauce and ginger for a delicious savory snack.
- ¾ pound skinless and boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
- ½ cup Thai basil
- ¾ cup sweet potato flour or corn flour
- Peanut oil for deep-frying
- 1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine
- 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons grated or chopped ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
- A few dashes of ground white pepper
- A pinch of 5-spice powder
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- A few dashes of ground white pepper
Directions: Whisk together all the ingredients for the marinade, pour over pieces of chopped chicken, and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.
Toss the chicken in the sweet potato or corn flour to coat.
In a heavy-bottomed pan with high sides, heat the peanut oil over medium-high heat. Carefully toss the basil into the hot oil. Let the leaves cook for 2 to 3 seconds, until crispy, then remove and drain on paper towel.
Fry the chicken in the peanut oil until it’s cooked through and is golden brown in color. Remove the chicken and drain on paper towel. You may need to work in batches depending on the size of your pan.
Place the fried chicken in a bowl and toss with some salt and ground white pepper. Crush the fried basil into the chicken and serve immediately with additional basil.
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