Which yoplait yogurt is the healthiest?
8 healthy and nutritious snack ideas on a budget
In the middle of the afternoon or late in the evening you will find yourself in the kitchen looking for something to eat. So what are you doing? You pack a bag of potato chips and lemonade to hold you up until dinner. Unfortunately, the snack you have chosen to eat can exceed 400 calories or more in addition to being pumped full of sugar, which makes you tired an hour after you eat it.
All of us have an urge to eat, and snacks can keep you healthy. Nutritionists have said for years that a healthy diet involves eating several small servings of food each day instead of three jumbo meals. Snacking helps curb cravings, which leads to indulging in large or unhealthy meals, fighting weight gain, regulating mood, and keeping your metabolism stable.
However, snacking can easily get out of hand, and it can put your diet and health plans at risk. You can eat smart without breaking your budget. No need to spend money on overpriced "gourmet snacks" like 100-calorie packs of Oreos and Ahoy Chips. You can have your own healthy, frugal, and tasty snacks on hand when you need something to eat between meals.
Healthy and frugal snack ideas
1. Whole grain crackers with peanut butter
This wonderful afternoon snack has it all. Whole grain crackers are a great source of fiber, which can keep you feeling full. A thin spread of peanut butter gives you just enough protein and healthy fats to carry you through to dinner. You can also sweeten this snack with some cut fresh fruit or a light drizzle.
If you don't want to eat a whole piece of whole grain bread, opt for a whole grain muffin instead. You can still get the benefits of whole grains, but in a smaller serving. Look for coupons and sales on your favorite muffins and crackers, and head to a bakery if you have one in your town. Bakeries have huge deals on muffins and crackers, and often have extra savings on certain days of the week.
2. A serving of nuts
Pick up any diet or health book out there and more than likely you will find the health benefits of the nuts mentioned anywhere in the text. Doctors and scientists believe that nuts are a powerful superfood and that anyone could incorporate more nuts into their eating plans.
Nuts make a wonderful snack because they have so many health benefits. According to Harvard Medical School, nuts help lower cholesterol and contain fats that are good for the heart. They're also high in omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce dangerous irregular heart rhythms.
All you have to do is eat a small handful of nuts to bring you to dinner. Nuts are high in calories, but they're also full of protein and fiber and can help you feel full. Buy nuts in bulk from discount stores to save money. You can store fresh nuts in sealed plastic containers or in the freezer. When properly stored, nuts can last for months or even years.
3. Greek yogurt
I like to eat half a cup of Greek yogurt with a dash of honey and fresh fruit in the afternoon. Greek yogurt makes a very healthy snack because of the high protein count: 22 grams in 8 ounces of yogurt. Greek yogurt is also high in calcium; 30% of your daily needs are contained in 8 ounces.
I'm looking for Greek yogurt coupons to save money. Greek yogurt will last two months or more, so you can save by buying multiple large tubs when the yogurt goes on sale.
If you don't like Greek yogurt, regular yogurt also makes a healthy, inexpensive late afternoon snack. However, be aware that many regular yogurt brands like Dannon and Yoplait have a lot of sugar in them. Instead of buying sugar-filled yogurt, buy a tub of plain yogurt, then add a teaspoon of your own jam or honey, and some fresh fruit or berries, to each serving. You can save time by dividing the giant tub of yogurt into 6-8 smaller containers and then adding the jam, honey, or fruit to each container.
4. Hummus and vegetables
Chickpeas, the main ingredient in hummus, are one of the oldest agricultural foods in the world. The beans have many health properties, including high levels of protein and fiber and folic acid. The American Institute for Cancer Research, quoted on WebMD, also says that certain compounds in beans help protect our cells from cancer.
Like most foods, making your own hummus can save you money. Hummus has just a few ingredients: chickpeas, which cost less when you buy them dried, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil.
If you don't want to make hummus yourself, save money by purchasing pre-made hummus from an ethnic grocery store or buying in bulk from Costco. Hummus stays once for a long time, so don't worry about eating it all within a week. I like to use hummus as a dip for fresh, raw vegetables like carrots, broccoli, and peppers.
5. Puffed popcorn
Popcorn is one of the healthiest and cheapest foods to eat as long as you make it at home instead of buying the "prepackaged" microwave popcorn. Whole grain popcorn is high in fiber; three cups of popcorn contain 3.5 grams of fiber. Popcorn works well as a late afternoon or evening snack and will leave you feeling full. Popcorn is also high in antioxidants that will help fight disease and cancer. Best of all, you can buy a pound of this healthy, tasty snack for less than $ 2.
You can get most of the benefits of popcorn by making it pop at home. Don't worry, you don't need a fancy popcorn popper to make popcorn. Just pour 1/4 cup of popcorn into a brown paper lunch sack, roll up the opening, and put it in the microwave. Once the popcorn has stopped popping, take it out and drizzle with olive oil and a little sea salt. It's delicious, cheap, and healthy! You can also drizzle your popcorn with cayenne pepper for a kick or add maple syrup if you like sweet tasting popcorn.
6. Pickled vegetables
What do pickles, pickled green beans, and pickled cauliflower have in common? They are low in calories and they won't break your budget, especially if you can do it at home. These vegetables also contain iron, vitamin A, and potassium.
Pickled vegetables are a wonderful snack. They go even further if you pair them with a couple of whole grain crackers with cheese. I can make my own green beans every year, and they make a wonderful, calorie-free snack that I enjoy all winter long.
7. Healthy pancakes
Pancakes don't usually fall into the healthy category unless you add vegetables to them. Before trying the idea of eating vegetable pancakes, it helps to stop thinking of eating them as breakfast. Pancakes can make a wonderful, healthy afternoon snack. And you can make pancakes quick, especially if you make them on the weekend and freeze them for the week ahead.
Add fresh chopped spinach or frozen drained spinach to your regular pancake recipe. You can also add shallots, cumin, cayenne pepper, and most other condiments to flavor your pancakes. Having whole wheat flour or ground flaxseed on hand will make your pancakes even healthier.
I made healthy spinach and sweet potato pancakes and they tasted wonderful. I found a great recipe for spinach pancakes at Snack Girl. You can always microwave your frozen pancakes and then pop them in the toaster oven to make them crispy.
Healthy muesli originally comes from Switzerland and includes whole oats and other grains as well as fresh or dried fruit. Granola is similar to granola, but it's not baked; it's raw. Supplied with whole grains and fiber, having a bowl of muesli with milk in the morning will keep you feeling full until lunch - guaranteed.
Those of you who have had cereal will be wondering why I included them here. After all, buying muesli in the store costs a small fortune. However, I don't buy muesli in the store. Instead, I do it myself for pennies compared to what I would pay in the supermarket.
You can find my favorite recipe on AllRecipes. I changed the recipe a bit by adding flaxseed to add more fiber and drizzling honey over each bowl. Although many people eat cereal for breakfast, I always eat it as an afternoon snack, often mixed with a cup of Greek yogurt.
Almost everyone struggles with the temptation to eat unhealthy foods. You've probably heard it before, but choosing not to buy unhealthy snacks goes a long way in keeping yourself healthy. That way, when cravings hit, you won't have unhealthy food around the house. Whenever you can, try choosing a healthy and frugal option first before opening a bag of cookies or chips.
Do you have favorite savings and healthy snack recipes? Please share your comments below.
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