Are you familiar with the term “hangry”? I am VERY familiar with it, lol. It’s that state of being so hungry that you are easily angered. You feel like all of life is against you and no one understands, and there is an intense underlying level of frustration in whatever you are doing at the time.
My mom used to say that she would go anywhere and do anything with my dad except being stuck on a deserted island somewhere. Because then they would die of starvation together, and she did NOT want to be around my dad when he was that hungry. Um, so I think I know where I get it from. :-)
I do my best to try to keep snacks in the car. I try to think ahead and pull a piece of fruit from the fridge or the bag of trail mix from the pantry on my way out the door. But with all the best intentions in the world, sometimes I just forget. Or I get stuck away from the house longer than my original plan. Or there is nothing in the house to grab.
So then I am running errands or chaufferring kids, and the hunger monster strikes. And on the sliding scale of the hunger-to-anger ratio, my body is such that a little hunger can produce much temptation towards anger. My hangry indicator moves up rapidly, y’all, even before the tummy tells me it wants food. In fact, grouchiness is a key sign nowadays, for pretty much everyone in my family — cuz they are MY kids, after all — that we need to find a source of sustenance like RIGHT NOW.
But when you are out and about, and you are also financially challenged, this can be a daunting task. Not having a plan ahead of time can mean you wander around looking for something you can afford, meanwhile getting hangrier all the time. Danger, danger, Will Robinson! A meltdown is imminent!
So I have a list of go-to snacks to buy when we are out of the house and have nothing already in the car. It’s not a long list, but it is effective. Are all the items on it healthy? Nope. But they will keep the hangry at bay until you can get home. I don’t know about you, but
avoiding Armageddon preserving family unity is one thing I am willing to sacrifice perfectly clean eating for.
Try these cheap snacks when you are out and about
1) McDonald’s all-day breakfast menu has been a life-saver for us. The Sausage McMuffins and parfaits are only slightly more than a dollar. Occasionally I’ll splurge and get an oatmeal for around $2.50. But that’s still less than a meal or even one of their regular sandwiches. And of course, the price of their large drink, which has held steady at $1 for several years now, is always a draw.
2) At the Chili’s To Go window you can get an order of chips and salsa for under $4. And it comes with a huge bag of their WARM, yummy chips and a large tub of salsa — more than they would serve you if you were sitting in the restaurant. For the quantity, it’s cheaper than buying inferior chips at the grocery store — and much yummier. And there’s enough for a crowd!
3) A Wendy’s small Frosty, costing around $1, is always welcome on a hot day. They also have their value fry for approximately the same price. (If you splurge and get them both, you can dip the fries into the Frosty… mmmmm.)
4) A bag of popcorn at Target can be had for around $1.50. It’s a great low-sugar snack option.
5) As an adult, I am not ashamed to admit I will order a Chick-Fil-A kid’s meal when I need more than a snack but not as much as a full meal. For $4.99 you get 6 grilled nuggets, fries, a kid’s drink (yes, it’s refillable) — and I can refuse the toy and get a kid’s ice cream instead. A kid’s meal from another restaurant would probably work just as well — in fact, I recently saw a sign on our local Wendy’s that their kid’s meals are $1.99 after 4pm. Woot!
6) A grocery store is not just for weekly grocery shopping, y’all. You can actually buy a single piece of fruit like an apple or an orange. Or a big bunch of grapes for everyone to share. In the register aisles there are individual bags of chips or trail mix, individual granola bars, etc. These are great when you are trying to be quick, because you don’t have to go very far into the store and thus won’t be tempted by the 500 other things you realize you need at home as you walk by them…
The busy lifestyle that most families have these days, my own included, means that we are spending more and more time away from home. It is inevitable that buying snacks will often be a necessity. So much so in our family that I have created a line item in our budget for “food away from home.” I used to just spend the money and find a way to finagle it in the budget after-the-fact (because hangry is an emergency in my life, y’all); but once I realized the pattern, it made sense to set money aside ahead of time. Now I eat without guilt. :-)
But I don’t spend more than I absolutely have to. With these options for cheap snacks on the go to choose from, I am almost always able to keep hangry at bay with very little expenditure. And in my little world, that’s a win-win!
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