Who’s not all about getting more bang for your buck? Count me as the queen of this club when it comes to nutritious foods that fit into my budget, and snacks seem to work well under this criteria. Snacks are becoming more common in my diet, especially as I get busier with work and social commitments. After doing some reconnaissance work at the local corner store, drug store and grocery store, I have compiled a list of six satisfying snacks that won’t bust your budget yet still offer a nutritious boost. That’s right: These six supersnacks are under a dollar per serving!
75¢–$1 per 3 ounces
Hummus is a convenient and versatile snack made from blending cooked chickpeas with tahini and heart-healthy oils such as olive or soybean oil. The oil contributes heart-healthful fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, while the garbanzo beans provide staying power since they are rich in protein, supporting feelings of fullness while also building lean muscle mass. Hummus comes in a variety of flavors, so make sure to try a few varieties to see which one you like best. I like to dip whole-wheat pita or veggies into a hummus container that I leave at work whenever I need a quick snack to fill me up. I’ll also pick up some convenient snack packs that pair hummus with pretzels or crackers; it’s an easy, no-brainer snack option!
75¢ per 6 ounces
Yogurt is another quick snack option that can be thrown into your work or gym bag. Filled with protein, yogurt can help with weight management. Switch to a slightly more expensive Greek yogurt, and you will double the amount of protein! Also, having 40% of your daily serving of calcium helps your bones stay strong. Yogurt is a great option that can be eaten alone or incorporated into recipes to pump up the nutritional value of baked goods or desserts. I like to top a cup of Greek yogurt with some frozen berries and slivered almonds for a satisfying afternoon snack. As if you needed another reason to incorporate yogurt into your snack routine, yogurt is a great source of probiotics, which help to support a healthful gut.
75¢ per 1 ounce
What works in the great outdoors also works at your desk. Trail mix is excellent for people looking to customize their snacks with nutritious options. The beauty with trail mix is that there are so many different kinds available at the store, ranging from tropical to spicy flavors. If you are feeling like you want to take matters into your own hands, go for it! Purchase your favorite nuts, seeds and any other mix-ins. Feel free to add nontraditional ingredients like dark chocolate, dried soybeans or popcorn. The combination will give you a dose of protein and heart-healthy fats, dried fruit contributes fiber for gut health, mix-ins like dark chocolate and dried soybeans add antioxidants such as flavonoids, and popcorn brings whole grains, which takes me to my next snack option.
75¢ per 1/2 cup
Popcorn is one of the only snacks that is 100% whole grain. Popcorn comes from a special type of corn that is grown to pop! Popcorn kernels are dried on the cob, removed and packaged as popcorn snacks or as kernels that can be popped at home. For a fun, office-friendly snack, take about 1/4 cup popping corn and place in a lunch-size brown paper bag. Drizzle olive oil over the kernels, and roll the top of the bag over twice. Pop the bag in the microwave (fold side down), and cook for about two minutes. Enjoy with some seasoning or salt. In just a few minutes, you have a quick and satisfying snack!
50¢ per 1 ounce serving
A small yet satisfying snack, string cheese is great in that it is portioned out and wrapped for easy convenience. Similar to yogurt, string cheese has protein and calcium and comes in a variety of different cheeses. I like to pair my string cheese with veggies for some crunch and extra nutrients.
25¢–$1 per serving
Below you will find three fruits that are perfect for grabbing before you leave home.
- Banana: filled with fiber and potassium, these portioned 100-calorie fruits are nature’s “snack packs.”
- Apple: You have probably heard that an apple a day will keep the doctor away, so grab this fruit for a serving of vitamin C and antioxidants like flavonoids.
- Orange: No longer just vitamin C powerhouses. This citrus fruit is also filled with fiber and rich in calcium, folate, potassium and antioxidants such as flavonoids.
Also, don’t forget about canned or frozen fruit!
- Frozen Berries: Packed with antioxidants like flavonoids, this is a great option to add on top of yogurt or blend into smoothies.
- Canned Pumpkin: Just in time for fall, spoon some canned pumpkin into a bowl of oatmeal for a festive breakfast. Pumpkin is rich in fiber and antioxidants such as carotenoids.
- Canned Mandarin Oranges: When the weather starts to get colder, I find myself gravitating toward more tropical flavors. I like to add this tart citrus to salads or on top of grilled chicken for a sweet/savory combo.
So there you have it, six snacks that are healthful and affordable. Now you have no excuse but to try to incorporate a few of these into your routine. Happy snacking!
—By Megan Meyer, PhD for IFIC.