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Survive This Economy: Homemade Summer Snacks

Homemade kettle corn (Credit: CBS)

Homemade kettle corn (Credit: CBS)

Dorothy Tucker Dorothy Tucker
Dorothy Tucker has served as a reporter for CBS 2 Chicago since 1984....
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CHICAGO (CBS) – It’s the last week of school for kids in Chicago, and you know what that means: parents will soon be hearing “what’s there to eat?” all day long.

CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports the cost of all those snacks can really add up, so getting creative in the kitchen with your kids can save you a lot of money.

Summertime means snack time in the Wright household.

“I usually spend a lot more in the summer on snacks, because (the children are) home,” Marcus Wright said. He figured he spends about $30 a month on snacks in the summer, but hopes to cut that cost this year by having the family make their own snacks.

One of those homemade treats? Kool-Aid popsicles.

The recipe is simple, nothing more than Kool-Aid, water and sugar, poured into popsicle molds or ice cube trays and frozen.

Once you freeze an entire pitcher of Kool-Aid, you end up with the equivalent of 40 popsicles for just 90 cents. A small box of eight popsicles at the store would cost about $2.

Strawberry cream popsicles made with fresh fruit, milk, and a touch of sugar are a bit more expensive, but still much cheaper than similar store-bought popsicles.

Making 12 homemade strawberry cream popsicle bars would cost about $1.88, compared to $4 for 12 name-brand, store-bought bars.

Making five chocolate-covered frozen bananas at home will cost you about $2, compared to paying $5 for five from the store.

For movie nights, it doesn’t take long to make kettle corn, and the savings over the store bag is huge.

Our homemade recipe below makes 10 servings of kettle corn for only 51 cents, compared to five servings from a store-bought bag for $3.89.

That’s a total savings of about $32 for all four snacks.

After trying the kettle corn his daughters made, Marcus Wright said, “I like this. I could eat this all day.”

Sinora Wright said, she also thinks it’s easier than using store-bought kettle corn.

“You can control the ingredients in what you make, as opposed to buying it from the store,” she said, meaning she can use less salt, sugar, butter, or oil than she might find in store-bought brands.

With the savings from the homemade summer snacks, added to their other savings since the “Survive This Economy” series started last fall, the Wrights have saved $2,667.

The recipes for their homemade summer snacks can be found below:

Strawberry cream popsicles

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Ingredients:
2 cups whole strawberries (topped)
1 cup milk
Sugar to taste

Preparation:
1. Place all of the ingredients into a blender, and blend until smooth.
2. Taste, and add sugar as needed.
3. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.
Yield: 6-8 popsicles.

Frozen Chocolate Bananas

Yield: 4 frozen chocolate bananas
Ingredients:
2 bananas
6 oz. chocolate chips
2 Tbsp. butter
1 cup chopped peanuts or walnuts (optional)

Preparation:
1. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper or parchment paper.
2. Slice bananas in half crosswise.
3. Insert a lollipop stick or popsicle stick into the flat side of each banana half.
4. Lay on prepared baking sheet.
5. Freeze at least 15 minutes.
6. Place chocolate chips and butter in a microwave-safe container, and heat on 75% power 30 seconds. Stir and repeat until chocolate chips are melted. (Alternatively, place chocolate chips and butter in a small saucepan and heat over very low heat, stirring, until melted.)
7. Spread chopped nuts out in an even layer on a plate.
8. Dip frozen bananas in chocolate, allowing some of the excess chocolate to drain off, then roll quickly in the chopped nuts.
9. Return to waxed paper-lined baking sheet.
10. Freeze another minute or two until chocolate is set.

Kettle corn

Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 7 minutes
Yield: 4-6 servings
Ingredients:
1-2 Tbsp. canola oil or olive oil
1/2 cup popcorn
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. sea salt or kosher salt
2 Tbsp. butter, melted

Preparation:
1. Place oil in a large, heavy stainless steel pot. Turn the heat to medium.
2. Add 2-3 kernels, cover and when they pop, add the remaining popcorn and the sugar, and cover again. (If using a stovetop popcorn popper, such as the Whirley Pop, skip the second step. Just add the oil, popcorn and sugar to the popper.)
3. Once you start to hear the popcorn popping, begin shaking it gently back and forth. It helps if you use a pot with two handles on the sides. As the popping slows, turn off the heat and carefully remove the lid, tilting it away from your face to allow the steam to escape.
4. Pour the popcorn in a large bowl.
5. Add the salt and toss to coat well.
6. If desired, drizzle the melted butter over the kettle corn, and toss well.

Kool-Aid popsicles

Put the Kool-Aid mix in a pitcher, add sugar and water according to package, and stir. Pour mixture into ice mold and place in freezer, and freeze until solid (3-4 hours).