Everyday Cooking

Let's Talk About Snacks

September  4, 2013

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. 

Today: Gabriella feeds you all the snacks.

Shop the Story

It's over. I'm sorry.

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 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?

Listen Now

Join The Sandwich Universe co-hosts (and longtime BFFs) Molly Baz and Declan Bond as they dive deep into beloved, iconic sandwiches.

Listen Now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • walkie74
  • Kenzi Wilbur
    Kenzi Wilbur
  • Gabriella Paiella
    Gabriella Paiella
  • Tara O'Brady
    Tara O'Brady
  • Simone Horn de Petit
    Simone Horn de Petit
Yes, my name rhymes.


walkie74 September 4, 2013
How on earth do you get the popcorn toppings to stick? Mine always fall to the bottom of the bowl...
Gabriella P. September 5, 2013
Honestly, if I'm not using a recipe and just flavoring my popcorn with whatever spices and toppings I'm feeling for, I use olive oil spray. Not the most glamorous, but it does the trick.
Kenzi W. September 4, 2013
Thanks for reminding me about these granola bars! They're heavenly.
Tara O. September 4, 2013
Those granola bars sound brilliant! I'm thinking of trying them with soy butter for our peanut-free school.
Simone H. September 4, 2013
Please Tara o'Brady let me know if it works with soy butter. We dont have peanut- or almond butter here in Venezuela.