Snacks on Demand

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That little voice inside your head that wants a snack gets more insistent the longer you try to ignore it. By the time you finally break down and grab a treat, you might reach for a candy car or something else that contains a high amount of sugar, fat and calories. Whether you crave something sweet or salty, you'll find dishes and treats that you can make ahead of time and freeze or store to eat on the go.

Trail mix is possibly one of the world's greatest foods, and the best part is that you can completely customize it to fit your preferences. Trail mix is essentially just a mixture of nuts and a few other ingredients. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and arrange a layer of your favorite nuts on a cookie sheet. Once the oven reaches the right temperature, place the cookie sheet inside. As soon as the nuts are slightly brown, remove the sheet from the oven and set aside to cool. Mix the nuts with pretzels, chocolate candies, dried fruit and anything else you want, and store the mixture in airtight containers or bags.

If you have a food dehydrator, the sky is the limit. Turn thin strips of beef into beef jerky by marinating the meat in a mixture of Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, a little garlic, black pepper and some beer if you like. Place the mixture in the refrigerator overnight. Remove the beef from the liquid, and pat some of the liquid off with a dry paper towel before placing in your food dehydrator. Another easy make ahead snack is dried fruit or fruit leather. With dried fruit, you can simply wash and cut the fruit into smaller pieces. For fruit leather, puree the fruit with a little water until a thick paste forms. Pour the mixture onto wax paper before putting in the dehydrator. You can make fruit leather, dried fruit and beef jerky in an oven on low heat, too.

Once you try a few different make ahead snack ideas, you might want to segue into full meals. Lasagna is one of the easiest meals to freeze, but you can also freeze broth-based soups, macaroni and cheese and meals that you make in the slow cooker. Keeping those meals on hand ensures that you and your family will always have something delicious and healthy to eat even when you don't have a lot of free time.


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