The busy days of fall often require refueling with grab-and-go snacks. Failure to pay close attention to what you’re snacking on, though, can lead to a spike in spending and poor eating habits. While a quick bag of chips or a mocha latte may seem insignificant in the scheme of things, over time you’ll find your discretionary budget shrinking and your belt tightening.
Try the following healthy, budget-friendly snacks, and you’ll save money while maintaining energy and curbing fast food cravings.
Fresh fruit and veggies
Noshing on in-season fruits and veggies is a healthy, inexpensive way to satisfy your appetite. Look for upcoming sales on fall fruits like apples, pears and kiwi, which are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals. Bananas are always in season, as are carrots, radishes and celery. Many of these fruits and vegetables need little if any preparation.
No, not those breaded appetizers. For healthy snacking purposes, reach for the individually packaged cheese sticks or string cheese. Low moisture, part skim mozzarella cheese sticks tend to be the lowest in calories, but cheddar doesn’t have that much more calories. At about an ounce a piece, cheese sticks contain calcium and around 7 grams of protein.
As long as you don’t drench it in butter or cook it in a lot of oil, popcorn provides you with a low-calorie, high-fiber quick snack that even contains some protein. Three cups of un-buttered air-popped popcorn has just 92 calories. Rather than buying prepackaged popcorn or microwave varieties, save a lot of money by popping your own. Put kernels in a pan with a little bit of oil and heat on the stove, or air pop in a paper bag in the microwave.
Peanut butter and celery
The combination of high-protein peanut butter with nearly zero-calorie celery makes an inexpensive and refreshing treat that can give you sustained energy. While peanut butter is high in fat, they tend to be “good” omega-3 fatty acids, and the spread also contains iron, magnesium and vitamin B-6.
Nuts like pecans, peanuts and walnuts provide you with savory, good-for-you treats loaded with healthy fats, protein and fiber. Almonds, for instance, contain vitamin E, manganese, magnesium and riboflavin. While nuts can be somewhat pricey to buy, a serving only consists of about ¼ cup, so a bag or tin will last you awhile.
Full of protein, calcium, vitamins like B6 and B12 and probiotics, yogurt makes a quick, yummy snack that is also inexpensive. Plain, nonfat Greek yogurt is your best choice, because it contains very little sugar and provides twice as much protein as other types of yogurt. It also features a smooth, creamy texture, because the liquid whey is strained out during manufacturing.
Add flavor to plain yogurt by dressing it up with berries, sliced bananas or a sprinkling of granola.
Tuna and low-fat crackers
Tuna is another food that is high in protein and rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, and when you don’t add a lot of mayonnaise it makes a healthy snack. Pair tuna with a few low-fat crackers, and you have a satisfying, budget-friendly snack.
Now that your mouth is watering, snap up some of these inexpensive, good-for-you snacks and get the guilt to go.
Julie Bawden-Davis is a staff writer for SuperMoney. Her mission is to help fight your evil debt blob and get your personal finances in tip top shape.
Copyright © 2013 Julie Bawden-Davis
Photo: Emily Barney
Julie Bawden-Davis is a widely published journalist specializing in personal finance and small business. She has written 10 books and more than 2,500 articles for a wide variety of national and international publications, including Parade.com, where she has a weekly column. In addition to contributing to SuperMoney, her work has appeared in publications such as American Express OPEN Forum, The Hartford and Forbes.