Friday, January 8, 2016

Cheap and Tasty Snacks When You Are Flat Broke!

     Have you had those moments when you look around the kitchen wishing there was something to snack on?  Or worse, when the kids come in asking for snacks when this week's budget just didn't have room for extras?  I have a teenage son, so it happens around here a lot.  Some days it feels like I'm throwing food into a bottomless pit! 

     This week our budget was extra tight, and my son was extra hungry.  I looked around the kitchen and suddenly realized that all of the fruit, crackers, and chips were gone.  It's growth spurt time again.  I'm telling you... this boy is going to be seven feet tall if he doesn't stop growing like this.  But, it doesn't change the fact that I need to get some snacks in the house fast and I can't afford another run to the grocery store.  It's time to check my staples.

     There are always potatoes.  That's an easy one.  In fact, I should probably put my foot down and stop allowing my husband and son to buy bags of potato chips anyway.  I turned on the fryer, tossed a pot of water on the stove, and grabbed the mandolin from the cabinet.  It took me just a minute to slice the potatoes into thick chips.  (Don't forget to use the safety handle on your mandolin.  Days like this I would lose a finger without it.)  I was able to move on to other things while my potatoes took a quick dunk in the boiling water, followed by two quick dunks in the fryer.  Fresh potato chips made for a very happy family in just about 20 minutes.  Plus, good for me, most of that time was spent fussing with other things in the kitchen while I waited for the timers I set to tell me when to move my chips from one pot to the next.

     I knew that, although potato chips would make my son and hubby happy for a while, I was going to need a tasty snack for the next day, too.  Soft pretzels to the rescue!  I've adapted Guy Fieri's soft pretzel recipe to work for me.  I don't worry about the agave nectar and I substitute in whatever flour I happen to have on hand at the time.  It works just fine.  We are talking about flour, yeast, water, eggs and salt.  Basic stuff.  I tend to add in a little garlic powder and onion powder with the mix to make things a bit more interesting.  But the bottom line is that with some basic staples on hand, I can always throw together a pleasing snack for my teenage son.  (His friends always love these too.  And they are convinced I am a super cool mom who makes these pretzels because everyone loves them so much - not because I am frantically searching for something to make super cheap with what is on hand in the pantry.)

     Finally, I was hearing grumblings about not having anything sweet in the house this week.  Oh, the horror!  Didn't everyone have enough sweets during the month of December?  Apparently not!  So, a speedy internet search for a cookie recipe that could make use of the cocoa powder I had on hand, but no butter.  Voila! I found a website called Averie Cooks and she had this terrific recipe.  Thick and Soft Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies  I had all the ingredients on hand (although it depleted my peanut butter stockpile a bit) and it was an easy fix for my son's sweet tooth.

     Yes, I spent more time in the kitchen than I had planned that day.  And, of course, there are healthier snacks in the world.  But sometimes moms are in a pinch and we need to make due with what we have.  This week, the ingredients on hand made potato chips, soft pretzels, and chocolate peanut butter cookies.  If I do say so myself, I think we ate pretty darned well if you consider my budget limitations.

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