01 July 2017

After School Treats That Won't Break the Budget (or ruin dinner)

It's school holiday time again, and I can guarantee there are hoards of hungry kids out there, peering into pantries and staring into fridges, looking for something to eat.

You can buy snacks from the supermarket, when they are on sale - half price is the most you should pay, ever, or from grocery clearance stores like NQR here in Melbourne, but you are paying for a lot of nothing: packaging, artificial colours, artificial flavours, salt, sugar, fat - all things we don't need or really want to be paying for.

Or you can be a very clever Cheapskate and whip up some great snack treats that cost a fraction of the price and rest easy knowing you're being kind to your budget and your kids.

Over the next few days I'll post a few different snack foods, all favourites of ours. You can be sure my kids gave them a good taste test when they were younger, and you can be sure that we still enjoy them.

Some of them are so simple the kids will be able to make them - a double win for you. They'll be doing the (not so) hard work instead of you and they'll be entertained for a while too!

Today's snack idea is one of my absolute favourites - caramel corn (you'll need to to at least supervise this recipe, it does require a little cooking).

Caramel Popcorn

20 cups pop corn
2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup condensed milk
1 tsp bicarb soda
1 tsp vanilla extract

Spread the popcorn in a thin layer in shallow, greased baking pans.  Preheat oven to 120 degrees Celsius.  Combine the brown sugar, condensed milk and butter in a medium saucepan.  Stir to combine. Bring to a boil over a medium heat. Boil for five minutes, stirring continuously.  Remove from the heat and stir in the bicarb soda and vanilla essence, beating well. The mixture should be light and foamy.  Immediately pour over the popcorn. Stir with a fork to mix. Don't worry too much if not the popcorn isn't completely covered with the caramel.  Place into preheated oven and bake for one hour, stirring completely  every fifteen minutes.  Remove from oven and empty onto sheets of baking paper. Break the caramel corn into bite size pieces. Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Variation:  Bliss Bombs - add 2 cups unsalted peanuts to the popcorn before covering with the caramel mixture.

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