Cooking on the cheap shouldn't mean minute rice and buttered pasta every night. With a little creativity and a little planning, you can make the most of a tight budget -- without sacrificing flavor or variety.
Just last week we were eating our way through excess summer produce, drinking cocktails outdoors any chance we could get, slathering on sunscreen, and ignoring emails.
Now we're headed back to school or stuck at work without the promise of long beach weekends. We're reminding ourselves that we look pretty good in earth tones and that working 12 hours per day is totally normal and healthy.
Here's how to keep sane during the whirlwind days when you're still mourning summer's end: snacks, and lots of them. These are quick and easy to make from what you already have in your pantry, and of course they're all cheap -- after all, it's time to start saving up for your next vacation.
Popcorn Popcorn is my ultimate go-to snack because it's such a blank canvas, adaptable to any craving I might have at any given time -- I buy corn kernels in bulk and hardly make a dent in my budget. Then I go heavy on spice, add coconut and lime, or fully indulge my sweet tooth with caramel corn.
Fried Chickpeas Make these addictive chickpeas in bulk for a cheap, protein-filled snack for any hour of the day. Throw any extras onto your salads for added crunch. Out of chickpeas? Try a similar technique with cannellini beans.
Pita Chips Pita chips are one of the easiest snacks to replicate easily at home. Rosemary thyme makes a great savory combination, while cinnamon sugar is perfectly sweet without being cloying.
Potato Chips Grab a bulk bag of potatoes, and get slicing -- we even give you our blessing to use a microwave.
Kale Chips Kale chips are almost comically overpriced, sometimes running upwards of $12 for a snack made from one of the most affordable vegetables. Save yourself the sticker shock and make a batch at home.
Granola Bars Pre-packaged granola bars are pricey, unsatisfying, and oftentimes unhealthy. Make your own 5-minute version at home and I promise you'll start feeling happier already.
Tell us: what are your favorite pantry-based snacks to pack on busy days?
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).