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Make your own 100-calorie snack packs to save cash – and your diet

POSTED BY
Heidi McIndoo, MS, RD, LDN

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As a registered dietitian, I believe a 100- to 200-calorie snack between meals is great way to achieve and maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle. Clearly, others agree as grocery stores, gas stations and convenience stores sell countless numbers of 100-calorie packs of crackers, cookies, candy and more.

While those calorie-controlled snack packs can be good for your waistline, they aren’t so good for your wallet. With a little bit of prep, you can make your own healthy snack packs to save cash – and your diet. Follow these tips and recipes to pack your pantry with premade DIY 100-calorie snack packs.

Why you should make your own snack packs

There are several reasons why making your own healthy snack packs is preferable to buying a ready-made version at the store. The first is cost. A pre-packaged 100-calorie pack of dry roasted almonds (bought in a multi-pack set) is roughly 61 cents, but a DIY 100-calorie pack is about 37 cents. Pretzels drop from 43 cents for prepacked to 18 cents for DIY, and cookies from 66 cents to 40 cents. That’s an average savings of 25 cents per pack, which if you eat one a day, can add up to a savings of nearly $100 a year.

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Second, the snacks you buy at the store come all package up; sometimes the individual bags come in a cardboard box that’s wrapped in plastic. If you store your snacks in reusable containers or bags, you are being more earth-friendly and won’t be contributing all that plastic to landfill.

Finally, making your own homemade snack packs lets you control what you eat. Both, you can skip foods with preservatives or other ingredients you don’t wish to consume, and you can mix and match to find the perfect snack mix for your taste. If you’re always picking the pretzels or watermelon out of premade snacks, you can stop wasting that food and start enjoying all your calories.

DIY mix-and-match 100-calorie snack packs

The easiest way to create a 100-calorie snack pack is to mix and match complimentary foods. The following ingredients are each 50 calories, which will give you an idea of how much of each item you can combine to get a perfect-sized snack. Package your favorites together for a ready-to-go pick-me-up.

Fruit and veg

  • 1/2 medium apple
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • ½ cup grapes
  • medium kiwi
  • 1 cup watermelon
  • 1.5 clementine oranges
  • 14 baby carrots
  • 10 cherry tomatoes
  • 1.5 cups red bell peppers

Crunchy

  • 7 almonds
  • 15 pistachios
  • 20 goldfish crackers
  • 3 saltine crackers
  • 1.5 cups plain or lightly salted popcorn

Sweet

  • 7 gummy bears
  • 1.5 red licorice sticks
  • 2 chocolate kisses
  • 1 mini peppermint patty
  • 11 M&Ms

Don’t limit yourself to the above. Just about anything can be turned into a 100-calorie snack. Simply check your favorite food’s nutritional facts panel on the side or back of the package. Note the serving size and calories per serving and do some simple math to determine how many calories are in each piece. For fruit, or other foods that may not have nutrition information clearly marked, the Calorie King website is a handy resource.

Make your own snack pack - platter of cheese, fruit, meat and nuts

Photo: Siami Tan on Unsplash

Make your own 250-calorie protein snacks

If you want a slightly larger snack, consider making a 200- or 250-calorie protein snack box. It will add variety to your snack and keep you filled up a little longer than fruit and carbs alone will.

Here are the calorie counts for popular protein additions to your snack box:

  • Mozzarella string cheese stick: 70 calories
  • 1 oz. beef jerkey: 80 calories
  • Hard-boiled egg: 77 calories
  • 1 slice of turkey breast lunch meat: 22 calories
  • 1 slice of ham lunch meat: 35 to 60 calories, depending on size and fat content

Don’t forget the nuts listed above are great sources of protein. Mix these in with your favorite fruit, crackers and sweets for a varied treat when those midday munchies hit.

How to store homemade snacks

When you create your own calorie-controlled snack servings, you’ll want to store them in reusable containers to lessen the environmental impact. There are all kinds of reusable containers, but here are a few of my favorites:

Lock and Lock bowls are the perfect size for nuts, crackers, cut-up fruit and more. In addition to being air-tight to prevent leaks and keep food fresh, they are dishwasher safe and easy to open. The bowls in this set are less than $3 each and because there are 4 in a set, you could easily split the order with a friend to save money.

LunchSkins are made out of a food-safe, machine washable material in a variety of colors and designs. The size fits perfectly in your purse, lunch bag or backpack. They take up no more room than a plastic bag, but can be used over and over again.

If you happen to be handy, you can also easily make your own reusable snack bags. You can find many patterns, like this one, by searching online.

Or, use what you have at home. Save the plastic lidded containers from deli meat, cream cheese and takeout orders to store your snacks.

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While those calorie-controlled snack bags can be good for your waistline, they aren't so good for your wallet. A pre-packaged 100-calorie pack of dry roasted almonds (bought in a multi-pack set) is roughly 61 cents, but a DIY 100-calorie pack is about 37 cents. Pretzels drop from 43 cents for prepacked to 18 cents for DIY, and cookies from 66 cents to 40 cents. That's an average savings of 25 cents per pack, which if you eat one a day, can add up to a savings of nearly $100 a year.

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