There's a special kind of pain you feel when you turn over a bag of kale chips at the health food store and realize that they cost ten dollars. I mean, we all want to eat better, but ten bucks for a 2-oz bag of dehydrated cabbage? It's enough to make you choke on your veganic carrots.
I had a feeling that these crunchy green snacks weren't alone, so I went out to food retailers around New York City and did some sleuthing. Still reeling from sticker shock, I present five health foods that just aren't worth their exorbitant price tags—and how you can DIY for a little more effort and a lot less money.
1. Kale Chips
Price at the store: $7–$10 for about 2 oz
Price to DIY: I found a 1-lb bunch of organic kale for $3 and a 1-quart bottle of canola oil for $5 (or about 7 cents per tablespoon, the amount called for in most kale chip recipes). Hear that? It's the sound of you dominating life by making a full pound's worth of kale chips for $3.07.
2. Almond Butter
Price at the store: $11 for a 16-oz jar (but that's pretty conservative—we've heard tale of organic versions costing up to $20)
Price to DIY: One of my local grocery stores sells 1-lb bags of almonds for a cool $6.49. Take 15 minutes of your day to follow a no-frills nut butter recipe like this one, and you'll have 2 cups of homemade stuff—about the same amount as you'll find in a store-bought jar—at 41 percent of the cost.
3. Bagged Popcorn
Price at the store: $5 for about 20 cups
Price to DIY: You can buy conventionally grown popcorn kernels on the super cheap—I'm talking just a buck or two at most major supermarkets—but let's get crunchy and say you want organic popping corn. You got it. I found a 20-oz bag from Eden Organic for $6 on the store shelf. You'll need about 1 cup of kernels and 4 tablespoons of oil to make 20 cups of popcorn on the stovetop (here's a good starter recipe). Use the same canola oil from my kale chip example for a cost of 28 cents. Add in that cup of kernels for a grand total $2.68 altogether—a badass 46 percent savings over the store-bought version. Even better? You'll still have a cup and a half of kernels left over to make more.
Price at the store: $7 for 1 lb
Price to DIY: There's no one right way to make muesli—you can throw together whatever nuts, dried fruits, or fresh fruits you have on hand—but you have to start with oats. And when you can find a massive 2-lb bag of organic rolled oats for $5 (like I did), why spring for the pre-mixed stuff? Moral of the story: Don't pay someone else to mix nuts and oats for you.
5. Unsweetened Bottled Iced Tea
Price at the store: $2.19 for 18.5 oz
Price to DIY: I found Yogi teas priced at $4 for a box of 16 tea bags (you could do this for even cheaper if you went with a mainstream brand like Lipton). The only other ingredient you need? Tap water, which costs a scant $.004 per gallon. If you follow this basic recipe, that one box of teabags will yield 128 oz of iced tea. Ounce for ounce, that's a savings of 72 percent. (Side note: Iced tea isn't the only cool beverage you're paying too much for. Here's our tutorial for stupid-easy DIY cold brew coffee.)