Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cheap Eats: Popcorn!

The Topic: Snack Attack Savvy

The Dish: For me, three square meals a day do not suffice. I need my snacks, but bags of potato chips and Newman O's aren't the healthiest things in the world, nor are they the cheapest. One of my favorite evening snacks growing up was popcorn, but the prepackaged variety is inexplicably overpriced—not to mention, often laced with animal products and mysterious chemicals (my hypochondriac side will never forget the report of toxic chemicals and microwave popcorn). I've ditched the microwave and made a truly amazing (and penny-pinching) discovery—I can pop that stuff on the stove.

With a little bit of oil—whatever I have handy—a touch of heat, and some vigorous shaking, in no time I have an embarrassingly large serving of this movie-time favorite, ready to be covered in Tapatio. Since I'm the queen of condiments, it's easy to vary up the flavor—sea salt, kelp flakes (don't knock it 'til you try it), cinnamon sugar, and homemade fake parmesan rank high on my list. The only combination I'm not willing to try is something equivalent to "popcorn cereal" I discovered on VegWeb, but hey. Never say never.

If you're concerned about using oil, air poppers are an affordable solution at about $10–20 each, although how often you snack on the stuff might determine if it's a necessary purchase (probably not). You already have all the tools you need, so ditch the microwave, grab a pot, and get popping.

Dirt Cheap Popcorn

Serves 1 Abby

What You Need:
1–2 tablespoons oil
1/4 cup popcorn kernels
Hot sauce
Nutritional yeast

What You Do:
  1. In a large, heavy pot, heat oil over medium heat. Place a few kernels in pot and cover. Once all kernels have popped, dump in remaining kernels, cover, and begin to lightly shake pot over the burner. Once popping has slowed down to around 5 seconds between pops, remove from heat.
  2. Add a generous sprinkling of hot sauce and nutritional yeast, mix, and serve. Enjoy!
The Final Word: An overwhelming trend in my life has become "DIY over store-bought." Seriously, just put in a tiny bit of effort and you'll get so much more for your money. What's your favorite popcorn topper?


  1. Just straight up sea salt for me! Though I do loves me some nooch every once in a while.

  2. Love it topped with nutritional yeast, but Cajun spices are another fave. I make a pot 2-3 times a week. But I pop it from a cold start. Place the oil in the pot, then the kernels, add the lid but tip it a hair, turn the heat on med high and in approximtely 5 min you've a wonderful pot full, with no shaking.
    Use the same ingredients and directions you've listed. It's easier on the bottom of the pot!

  3. Curry powder and salt. I can eat a whole bowl with that stuff on it!

  4. Olive oil, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and salt. Yum...

  5. Here's a helpful hint for those new to stove-top popping. Put your sea salt in the oil in the pan. The whole batch will be salted evenly with out needing any extra oil/butter substitute to make it stick! You can also add both salt and sugar to make kettle corn, but shake often to prevent burning! Same goes for herbs and spices! I have a Theatre II popcorn pan. It stirs the popcorn with a crank assembly. After a few uses, the pan gets more seasoned and you can use less oil to pop the corn!

  6. Melted chocolate chips with coconut oil. It's sinfully good.

  7. We use our hot air popper and then add our melted fixin's. I have a flat top stove (which I will NEVER have again in my life) so going stove top puts many scratches on our stove.

    But we do love popcorn. Yeah to snacking.

  8. I am addicted to popcorn too! I love it with nutritional yeast and dried dill..very much like the Little Lad's Herbal Corn. I also love using the nutritional yeast with Japanese 7-spice and a dash of lemon juice.

  9. We love peanut butter melted with brown rice syrup. Tastes so much like caramel corn. Depends on how much corn you make, but for a big serving bowlful I heat on low 1/4 cup of Peanut Butter and 1/3 cup brown rice syrup on the stove or in microwave and pour over popped popcorn. Stir to mix and let cool a little so mouths don't get burned. even the little kids love it. I honestly inhale it...kind of shameful.

  10. I know this post is over a month old, but my favorite way of making popcorn is putting about 1/8 to 1/4 of a cup of kernels in a plain paper bag -- a brown "lunch bag" is about the perfect size.

    You get air-popped, fat free popcorn!

    Here's a site that explains it pretty thoroughly: http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2006/12/14/diy-microwave-popcorn/