My family loves a good snack mix. So when I happened upon a modestly priced bag of snack mix, I began buying and dividing it up into lunch baggies for my youngest to enjoy in his lunch box. Before long, I had to start purchasing an extra bag for him—and everyone else—to enjoy at home.
|My family loves our cheap and easy snack mix.|
Then one day, I went to the store to stock up on lunch box items in preparation for the end of a lengthy school break. Unfortunately, the modestly priced snack mix was not in stock. But its place on the shelf was not empty. Rather, a new flavor of chips was stocked there instead.
I panicked. What if they didn't carry the snack mix anymore? I shrugged off the silly thought, realizing I could simply go to the super center down the road and get their brand of snack mix. So off I went to battle the crowds at the super center.
Not only did the super center not have a generic brand of snack mix, the name brand cost more than twice that of the mix I used to buy. As I stared in anguish at the high-priced bag of cereal mixed with pretzels and other snack items, it dawned on me; I could mix up my own snack combination and save tons of money.
Armed with the name-brand snack mix shamelessly in my cart as a reference, I wandered through the cracker, chip, and cereal aisles in search of everything that was pictured on the bag of pre-mixed snack. Then, when I was confident I'd found comparable ingredients, I put the name-brand bag back and headed home to mix up my own tub of savory mix.
I did not coat the cereal or any other snack items in butter, sugar, and spices. I did not bake it in the oven. Rather, I just mixed up what I purchased in a big tub. Then I divvied up some of it into baggies for several weeks of school lunches. The rest was placed in the dining room with a ladle for anyone in the house who needed to satisfy a munchie craving.
The mix was a hit. I know this, because my son went out of his way to say, "Mom, you rocked the snack mix." That has to be one of the highest teen compliments known to mankind.
My mix was much cheaper than the pre-mixed version. It was much quicker to put together than the recipes that mimic the name-brand snack and party mixes. And my family loves it just the same. If you want to save money and time, here's how it's done:
1 box of cereal (rice or corn squares work great, but if your family likes honey nut oat O's, use them)
1 bag small-sized pretzels
1 box cheddar cheese cracker squares or fish-shaped crackers
1 bag cheddar-fries snacks (or something comparable)
1 bag or box of bagel chips
Empty all the bags and boxes into a big container. Toss gently with a big spoon. Place a ladle and some paper cups or bowls next to the container for your family to use when they want to snack.
If you prefer a healthier snack mix, change it up and use organic, whole grain snacks instead. Have allergy considerations? Use snacks that are allergen free. You have all the power. It is time to harness that power and start saving money while meeting your family's snacking needs.
Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books.