If you like to snack after working out, you may find pre-packaged healthy snacks bust your food budget. Food blogger Meagan McGinnes has great recipes for post-workout healthy snacks you can make yourself.
If you’re anything like me, your summer was probably filled with more than your fair share of hot dogs, fried seafood, piled-high ice cream cones, and ice-cold beer.
But with the arrival of fall and the return of my usual routine, I’m thankfully getting back to my normal and healthier eating habits. While this is great for my waistline, it’s not always easy on my budget.
Though a shopping cart filled with protein bars/cookies, paleo jerky, and smoothie bowl mixes would make me (very) happy, it’s just not realistic to buy these overpriced niche-health-food items on a budget—and you don’t need to.
Instead, make your own versions of these healthy snacks to stay lean and fuel up after your workout, without thinning your wallet. Here are my five favorites.
1. Giant protein cookies
I didn’t believe a healthy, no-bake protein cookie that actually tastes like a cookie existed until I found this recipe by The Big Man’s World. There’s barely any prep time, and the recipe is flexible, so you can make any flavor you’re craving. (I prefer peanut butter protein powder and sprinkles.
Cookies half this size—with almost double the carbs—sell for about $2 per cookie. By buying your own protein powder and making these treats yourself, you can cut that price in half. The cookie is pretty large, so it’s easy to make one serving into multiple cookies, meaning you’re saving even more.
2. Roasted chickpeas
For those who love popcorn or chips, this will be your new favorite poppable snack. After you rinse off your chickpeas, just spread them on a cookie sheet with your favorite seasonings and olive oil, and throw them in the oven at 450 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes until they’re golden brown and crunchy. Chickpeas make the perfect vehicle for both sweet and savory flavors, like these garlic parmesan roasted chickpeas by Sugar-Free Momma or these honey cinnamon roasted chickpeas by Popsugar.
This snack is not only easy to make, but also cheap. One 15-ounce can of chickpeas can cost as little as 75 cents, whereas some brands selling premade roasted beans charge up to $4 for a third of the serving.
3. Beef jerky
A 3-ounce bag of jerky can cost up to $7—that’s way too much for a snack I could easily crush in one sitting. But thanks to Men’s Health, I learned I could make delicious and healthy jerky at home in my own oven.
Their Citrus Sriracha beef jerky recipe is big on flavor and low on sodium. All you need is a baking sheet, a sheet pan grate, and two to three hours of wait time before you can feast on beefy goodness. One pound of strip steak costs averages $14, but you’ll get more than five times the number of servings as the pre-packaged 3-ounce bag.
4. Protein bars
Protein bars are an on-the-go staple for fitness junkies—myself included—but they can get pricey quickly (especially if you eat them often). These chocolate peanut butter protein bars by In It For The Long Run blogger Georgie Morley save you precious cash and keep you from getting hangry.
The no-bake recipe makes 12 bars, but you do need a food processor (an investment that will save you lots of money down the road). Pre-packaged protein bars can cost you upwards of $2 per bar. This recipe cuts that price down by at least half depending on the protein powder and peanut butter you decide to use.
Not a peanut butter or chocolate fan? Morley also has a recipe for honey, flax, almond-butter protein bars.
5. Smoothie bowls
Pretty smoothie bowls have probably been blowing up your Instagram feed lately. But if you stop into your local juice bar to pick up this tasty treat, you’ll likely find yourself short on change and protein. The average smoothie bowl starts at $7 and goes up. Instead, bust out a blender and make it yourself—it will cost you less than $3 per bowl.
I usually opt for a cup of frozen berries instead of fresh fruit. You can either buy a large bag of the frozen fruit (buying in bulk is always more cost effective) or salvage your own by freezing berries, bananas, mango, and more when they seem a little too ripe to eat. Add a scoop of the protein powder of your choice, a dash of your favorite type of milk, and two tablespoons of light whipped topping (trust me, it’s a game changer) to create a smoothie bowl that’s the consistency of creamy soft serve. Then have fun with your toppings: The bowl is your canvas.
Meagan McGinnes is a freelance writer with interests in New England culture, locally sourced food, the environment, fitness, and storytelling. She’s a foodie who shares her love of snacks as a senior reporter at Project NOSH—a trade publication by BevNET that covers natural, organic, healthy, or sustainable packaged food companies and products. Follow her @meaganmcginnes.
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