100-Calorie Snack Packs

100-calorie snack packs are extremely popular right now. In case you haven’t seen them, they’re junk food (cookies, crackers, etc.) in one-100-calorie-portion-sized bags. You buy them in packages of multiple bags. While this might be convenient and work for you really well, there are many drawbacks.

You are paying three times as much for packaging. For the convenient pre-portioning, you pay a fee. For example, a standard, 15.9-ounce package of Oreo Cakesters costs $3.49 at Safeway ($0.22/ounce). The Mini Oreo Cakesters in 100-calorie packs (5 packs per container), 4.2 ounces costs $2.79 ($0.66/ounce). Literally three times the price.

You are (often) getting a different product. I chose the Oreo Cakesters for the above example because it was the closest to exact replicas as I could find in the 100-calorie packs. The price difference on other products was similar, but the products were less similar. For example, Chips Ahoy cookies in the 100-calorie pack are “crisps.”

You create substantially more waste. You have the outer packaging of the complete product, and the individual bags for the 100-calorie packs inside. That is a lot more resources going in, and a lot more trash coming out.

They’re all junk food. Are you looking just to eat 100 calories? You can’t find a snack pack of 100 calories’-worth of carrots or broccoli ā€” they’re all cookies, crackers, etc. Nuts are the only healthy foods I’ve seen in calorie-portioned sizes.

Perhaps not the portion you want. Often, if you’re looking to snack, you’re going to take the quantity that you want. If that happens to be equal to one (or two) individual packs, then it works out well. What if the portion you want equals one-and-a-half packs? Are you going to leave half a pack for later? I suspect that if you have that much control over your food intake that you’re not buying 100-calorie packs…

So what should you do instead?

We’ll assume for sake of argument that you’re looking to consume junk food and that the “eat healthy food” recommendation does not apply here (though that would, of course, be my first recommendation).

Buy the snacks you want and portion them out yourself. Use small, reusable containers. If they’re sturdy, your cookies, chips, crackers won’t get crushed in a bag. (While we do wash and reuse bags, I find rigid containers easier to clean and psychologically more difficult to throw away.) As soon as you get home from shopping, open the package and divide out the contents into the smaller containers. You can portion them out how you want. Maybe you want to be in the habit of not eating more than two cookies. Maybe you’re counting calories and can afford 150 per day in snacks. Maybe different people in your house get different portions. You have a lot of flexibility, and it really doesn’t take much time or effort to do this yourself.

This also allows you to make snack packs of whatever you want ā€” you’re not limited to what the manufacturers have decided should be put in tiny bags. It also allows you to mix-and-match within containers if you want.

It will save you money. It will save waste (if you use reusable containers). It will give you flexibility. And you only take a minor hit to efficiency. Not a bad trade-off.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Lisa on 9 June 2011 at 16:29

    We love our fabric snack bags here. Julia takes them to school daily for her snack (which is usually some kind of cracker). So because we use those, I don’t portion things out in advance, but it’s not really a big deal to grab a handful in the morning. šŸ˜‰ She’s never (yet…) thrown away her nice velcro-closing bags, which I think is good practice for her eventual retainers/palate expander. LOL!

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