Monday Money Saver #2: DIY Popcorn

So who doesn't like popcorn?? Whether you like it cheesy, covered in butter, or caramelized, there is something for everyone. Best of all, the popcorn itself (until you count the toppings) is low in calories, low in fat, and low in cholesterol.

Growing up in the microwave era, most of us have been exposed to popcorn in either those little microwaveable bags, or at the movie theatre. But the cost of those snacks adds up very, very quickly. At $4-5 per box, and only a handful of microwave servings per box, you can go through a box in a week if you've got a big Netflix queue to watch.

But there is a better way! You can buy the kernels themselves (also at the grocery store) for a fraction of the cost of microwave popcorn. Popcorn kernels run about $2 for a bag that should last a few weeks. All you need to do it yourself is a pot with a lid, some oil, and whatever toppings you feel like adding. Best of all, you don't have to buy 5 different kinds of popcorn if you want to mix it up a little, you can just make it yourself each time. It takes a little bit more involvement than the microwaveable kind, and maybe another minute or two, but it makes a huge difference. Homemade popcorn is also a lot better for you, and for the workers in popcorn factories. The powdered butter they put in microwaveable popcorn can cause serious health problems, including bronchiolitis obliterans, or Popcorn Lung.

1: Pour a few tablespoons of oil into the pot.
2: Throw in two or so kernels (not all of them at once!).
3: Heat the oil until those two kernels pop.
4: Pour in the rest of the popcorn (1/4-1/2 cup is enough for a couple people). Shake the pot (while keeping over the heat) so that the kernels pop evenly.
5: Let it pop!! Keep popping until you don't hear many more pops.
6: Pour into a bowl, and sprinkle your favorite toppings - then enjoy!

Here's a few ideas of popcorn toppings you can try:
- pour melted butter on popcorn, sprinkle with salt
- pour a tiny bit of melted butter on the popcorn, then sprinkle cinnamon and sugar
- pour a tiny bit of melted butter, then add some grated parmesan/romano cheese, or powdered cheddar
- pour a tiny bit of melted butter, then add a pinch of garlic powder and some dried chives
- pour a tiny bit of hot sauce, then add chili powder and a pinch of cinnamon

Another good option is to make 'dessert popcorn':
1: Spread popcorn out on a wax paper or foil -lined baking sheet.
2: Melt some chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips, or other form of sugary goodness in a glass measuring cup in the microwave.
3: Drizzle over the popcorn.
4: Freeze it until the chocolate is hardened. Then enjoy!


Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog said...

My dad always made our popcorn growing up. I hate to admit it, but I'm currently microwaver myself. I'd love to start making my own again- yum, with cinnamon and sugar!

Jenny said...

Thanks for the comment! I agree, sometimes it's a lot more convenient to just pop it in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. But most of the time we can afford an extra 2 minutes to make super delicious home-made popcorn. Plus, if you have guests over for movie night, you can impress them and have 2-3 bowls of different flavors, all from popping one batch!

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