I don’t snack as a general rule, but I will eat popcorn from time to time. I used to use an oil popper for making popcorn, but I recently switched to a bag method that works just as well as the microwavable bags from the store. In fact, it’s so easy and cheap that I can’t help wondering if there is some sort of popcorn conspiracy out there. Why, exactly, do we need special poppers or bags full of chemicals when popcorn is so incredibly easy to make on its own?
First, of course, you need the kernels. I bought unpopped popcorn kernels in the bulk section of the grocery store for $.99/pound. You will also need an ordinary paper bag.
To make the popcorn, I took 1/3 cup of kernels and mixed about 1 tsp of vegetable oil with it. Then I added the popcorn to the bag and sprinkled some salt on top. If I had wanted to I might have added other seasoning at this point, including curry powder, cayenne pepper, garlic salt, cheese powder, and so on, but I was feeling basic. So I mixed it all together and folded down the bag, like so:
Next step, I put the bag in the microwave and cooked it on high for about 3 minutes.
The key here is to listen. Don’t leave, don’t walk away, just stand by the microwave and listen to the popping. You want to wait until the popping slows down to about a second between pops. As soon as that happens, open the door.
It took my kernels exactly 2 minutes and 17 seconds to be completely popped.
This is certainly the lowest calorie snack I know of. According to my calorie calculator, 1/3 cup of unpopped kernels is about 31 calories, 1 tsp of oil has about 36 calories, and salt has no calories to speak of. So 1 bag of homemade microwavable popcorn has about 67 calories. A bag of the low-fat stuff from the store doesn’t go below 96 calories per bag–believe me, I’ve checked. On top of that, mine doesn’t have any weird chemicals in it.
But the real savings here is in the price. One box of microwavable popcorn costs $4.29 for three bags, or $1.43 per bag. My popcorn kernels cost $.16 and the vegetable oil was under $.05. Together, my microwavable popcorn cost $.21, meaning a savings of $1.22 a bag. If you consume popcorn in any capacity, those are savings you can’t ignore.
Cost of Dish: Popcorn: $.16 for 1/3 cup of kernels; oil: $.05; salt: so cheap it’s not worth mentioning.
Total Cost of Dish: $.21
Cost in Store: $1.43 per bag
Total savings: $1.22 per bag of popcorn