It’s time to put on our millionaire pants, and share a little secret to cutting costs out of the grocery budget. Snack food.
Snack foods are a perfect place to optimize in your budget! Don’t get me wrong, the Tako family loves snacking, but most snack foods are overpriced, filled with excessive salt & calories, and are a waste of your hard earned money. Most snack food at the grocery store is just over priced convenience food for lazy wage slaves. Chips? Soda? Cookies? Chocolate bars? Pretzels? Crackers? Don’t put that over-price-wallet-burning-garbage in your mouth!
There is one snack food we hold above all others. We love it because of its versatility, extremely low cost, and a genuinely delicious flavor: Popcorn.
You’re Doing Popcorn All Wrong
Most popcorn sold in North America today is in the form of microwavable bags (or the artery clogging version sold at movie theaters). Are you people crazy? That bagged sh*t? That kind of popcorn is practically an insult to popcorn itself. It’s covered in weird oils, fake flavorings, tons of salt, and sometimes toxic chemicals.
The stuff found in movie theaters is even worse. When we talk about popcorn here at Mr. Tako Escapes, this is what we’re talking about:
The Frugal Snack
Why is popcorn the snack food for millionaires? It’s really friggen cheap!
That 4 pound bag of popcorn (above) cost us $2.49 and that wasn’t on-sale. That’s 62.2 cents per pound. Even if we add in the energy cost for popping, the total cost per serving is still going to be pennies.
I can’t think of a cheaper snack food on the planet. It’s even gluten free! This the kind of snack food that will help you build wealth for financial independence, and help you keep wealthy once you achieve it. I say, eat real popcorn instead of that over priced bagged stuff. There’s no comparison.
OK, have I convinced you to stop buying that $5 bag of potato chips, and instead spend pennies on popcorn instead? Great! Now we come to the issue of popping. What’s the easiest way to turn it into delicious edible popcorn?
The Air Popper
First and foremost should be the air popper. Air poppers are really the best way to prepare popcorn at home. No oil is required, so there is no extra fat added just for the cooking. I also think its the most efficient method for popping – Just hot air generated from a $22 device that will last forever. Think I’m kidding about forever? Nope!
Frugalwoods says her air popper is 17 years old…Yes, that’s all very impressive Mrs. Frugalwoods. Well, I have you beat: My beautiful air popper is over 21 years old and still going strong. When I say ‘going strong’, I mean we use our air popper 3 to 4 times a week. At this rate, one of my boys will inherit the air popper.
Add 1/2 cup (may vary based on your model) of popcorn into the air popper. Plug in the air popper to a electrical outlet. Wait until all corn is popped. Flavor and serve at your discretion. Simple!
The Metal Pot (or Wok) Method
This is a traditional method, but still fairly easy and effective. A large pot is necessary (something on the order of 8 quart size). Some people use a wok. If you don’t have one of those, a metal mixing bowl is also a popular option. For this method, only a small amount of oil is required to keep the corn from burning onto the pot. It’s still a fairly health option. Many people use olive oil.
Place 3 tablespoons of oil in a large pot. Turn on heat to medium-high. Wait for oil to heat up. Add 1/2 a cup of popcorn. Cover with lid and shake vigorously when popping begins. Continue to shake until popping completes. Remove from heat when popping stops.
The Brown Paper Bag Method
Yes, you can make your own microwavable popcorn in bags. While I don’t advocate the use of consumables like brown paper bags, they are pretty cheap. If you must use the convenience of a microwave, this is far healthier and cheaper than store bought microwave popcorn. The following recipe is brought to you by the preeminent food scientist, Alton Brown.
Alton Brown’s Plain Brown Popper
- 1/4 cup good quality popcorn
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt or popcorn salt
- Sprinkle jalapeno seasoning mix
- Paper lunch bag
Toss the popcorn with the olive oil, salt, and jalapeno seasoning mix in the paper bag. Fold the top of the bag over and staple the bag twice to close. Place the bag in the microwave and microwave on high for 2 minutes to 3 minutes, or until there are about 5 seconds between pops.
Flavoring popcorn is the best part. Butter and salt are of course the traditional flavorings, but caramel corn and kettle corn are also frequently used in North America.
Don’t stop there, that’s just the start! There are many, many other kinds of flavoring: Onion Powder, cumin & butter, ranch dressing seasoning, soy sauce & butter, garlic powder, coconut oil, Parmesan cheese, brewers yeast, furikake, white truffle oil, smoked paprika, crushed red pepper, and olive oil. The list is of flavorings is nearly endless. What kind of flavors do you like to use?
I had a surprise discovery while researching this post – popcorn was eaten as a breakfast food in the 1800’s. People used to eat popcorn like a breakfast cereal! It was eaten with milk and sugar, much like we eat cereals today.
I’m not certain that popcorn would stand up to the milk very well, but if you’re in a pinch because you forgot to buy corn flakes at the market yesterday – don’t forget the popped corn option!
Give It A Try
I hope I’ve made you think about the cost of snack foods in your budget. If you don’t already love it, give popcorn a try! It really is the best snack food in the world — it can even help make you wealthy! While these aren’t vast sums of money we’re talking about, every $5 adds up. Those $5 invested in index funds (or common stocks) compounded over time will generate an ever-growing stream of dividends.
Anybody out there eat popcorn at home?