I wish I could claim to be one of those people all about the healthy lifestyle and never consuming anything that was processed or in any way ‘bad’ but that simply is just not me and when I try to hold back from the bad stuff I just end up consuming far too much in one go after crumbling to its desires.
But also I sometimes just want to be able to eat something that is a little bit of a treat, have it shoved in my bag without the fear of it going off or getting a bit crushed and mushy (unlike fruit that needs careful placing, checking on or a bulky tub) and also something that is a controlled portion size.
And generally crisps, or things that come in similar packets to crisps, fill all of the requirements. Whilst I could opt for popcorn or one of the other ‘healthier’ snacks on the market they generally do not pack quite the same flavour punch and crunch or textures to the things I am about to include below but also I find popcorn to be a bit lack lustre regardless of flavour, healthiness, origin etc. I just like crisps and similar stuff alright. No shame in that.
*Disclaimer (that I should not even have to do but i increasingly required in this day and age where people pull each other apart so often, especially online and via social media, for no real or good reason): These empties are an accumulation over time and I built them up to be able to discuss a variety of options with my readers. My partner and I have not sat and eaten our way through all these products in one evening.*
ASDA Smartprice Maize Snacks
When we were doing an ASDA order online I decided to get a few snacks in. I think when I was doing the order I was in a bit of a grump and seeking treats so ended up getting rather more than I should have done but these were part of the damage. The bag, containing 12 individual packets, costs 59p on the ASDA website so the financial damage was no where near as bad as they would be on the waistline.
The assorted pack contains four cheese flavour puffs (think Wotsits), four onion flavour rings (can they not just call them onion rings?) and four salt and vinegar flavour sticks (basically chipsticks) so you get a nice variety of flavours and textures depending on what you are feeling like. They are keen to point out there are no hydrogenated fats, colours or flavours in here but obviously the way they get the flavours into these products are hardly from fresh ingredients.
Unlike proper brands you get a lot less quantity in each individual bag, varying from 14g to 20g and between 71 and 100 calories, which makes them seem less worthwhile on the price but perhaps a good cheaper alternative if you want to give a young child something without pumping too much of that ‘bad stuff’ into them. I made a note of how many ‘crisps’ came in each packet and found the average to be 25 cheese puffs (16g), 15 onion rings (14g) and 20 sticks (20g).
The flavours for all of these came through fairly well and hit the mark, especially for the salt and vinegar sticks, which is commonly one of the things that can be reduced when they look at ways to reduce the cost. I would say that out of the three the onion rings were the least flavoursome as they still had some onion powder coating but there did not really seem to be any flavour built into the ring itself.
I would recommend having these around as emergency snacks if you get a craving for something like these or if you want to put something in your bag as an emergency or to give to a child banging on about wanting something similar. Sure they do not come in bells and whistles packaging or look all bright and colourful but they certainly do the job.
Sainsburys Cheese Puffs
From the cheapest and cheeriest variety of rip-off Wotsits we take a little step up and try out the ‘regular’ Sainsburys line of the snacks. With them being different supermarkets there are obviously going to be mildly different approaches to ingredients and methods but you would expect them to be largely the same with ultimately being the same product.
At full price these come in at £1 on the Sainsburys website but I am pretty sure my partner picked them up on offer at 75p in store during a special promotional offer and is approximately four servings. This is where the difference in serving size becomes clear between the cheapest products and these and as a result consuming one serving of these results in 157 calories (if measured to a perfect 30g portion) which if you are just wanting to portion them up and pop them in a tub for on the go is about the same as 1.25 average banana (and we all know which one will fill you up a lot more).
And of course let me remind you that this bag is not filled to the brim with cheese puffs but instead there is a never ending amount of air and you have to reach your hand deep inside the bag to get a tasty little bite out. But these ones are cheesier and more full of flavour than the ASDA Smartprice multi-pack ones and there is actually enough cheesy flavouring on them that it tends to stick to your fingers and end up all over your hands and places that did not even end up anywhere near the cheesy puff.They are light and airy and yet have a real sort of crunch to them when you eat them before they melt away like butter on your tongue.
The main issue for me with these though, much like with cereal, is realising what a portion size actually looks like in your hand or in a bowl because we think of these as being very light and airy and that therefore there must be quite a few to a portion and that certainly does catch a fair few people out. I know so many people that end up only making these last for two portions because “I’ll just have a couple more” turns into quite a significant amount. And that is one of the main reasons that snacks like this are not very cost effective because not only is portion management tough but also because keeping the remaining portions fresh and at their full potential after opening is a massive hassle unless you have lots of space to put things in lots of tubs and then store them somewhere.
Sainsburys Basics Tortilla Chips
These, labelled as “simply slated, packed with crunch”, have recently risen in price from 50p to 60p for the 200g (available here) but compared to Doritos and other brands of tortilla chips that is a very reasonable price if you can handle the simple salting of them rather than lots of other flavours. And if you are in any doubt about these perhaps being a bit like cardboard (a claim I hear about tortilla chips quite often) then take a look at the review on the link above and you will realise that they are not at all thin chewy tasteless triangles.
We have had these a number of times for a variety of things. Sometimes just to share and eat whilst watching something on TV or playing a game whilst other times using them to dip in things or to put in the oven and turn into nachos. they are really versatile and because they are cheap are a great way to make a bit of a cheaper meal or do something a little different without having to give them love and attention for hours whilst stirring away at steaming pans.
In the entire 200g bag there is 2g of salt which does seem like quite a lot but if you use these as a main meal you will probably be having 100g, so 1g of salt, and as long as you do not add salt to anything else and make wise cheese choices and have not consumed copious amounts of ‘bad’ food during the rest of the day then there is no reason why that amount of salt (given the recommended 6g daily allowance) should prove an issue to you once in a while. if anything the main issue with these is the fat content and for 100g there is 21g of fat (that’s nearly 30% of your recommended intake) and that is basically all from the sunflower oil used to turn the maize into these tortilla chips.
Having only maize, sunflower oil and salt listed on the ingredients these tortilla chips are vegan and eaten as a snack, or perhaps divided into a lunch box, create approximately six servings (that’s 10p per 30g portion) so are great for sharing around and basing a meal on without breaking the bank or creating a catastrophic mess in the kitchen.
Mr Porky Finest Quality Pork Scratchings
So these are clearly not crisps but they do come in the crisp section and come in what is essentially a crisp packet so thought I would include them as a bit more of a flavoured alternative for those ‘meat obsessives’ out there. They were supposed to be £1.10 (for 45g!!) but were reduced to clear at 59p with the best before date being just around the corner. After checking that the bag had not ended up with any piercings or nicks I decided to *ahem* rescue it *ahem* from the supermarket.
The reason I checked it for nicks is because if any air gets into a pack of pork scratchings they very quickly go soft and lose any of the crunch and the flavour seems to disappear too. If you think about leaving a bag of crisps open and how they go stale overnight these do the exact opposite.
I find the packaging really interesting because they are clearly going for the ‘we are the premium but also high street store brand’ look whilst also tasting like pretty much every other pork scratching I have encountered to date. I mean I am not a ‘connoisseur’ as the packet suggests they are for but I have had ones that lack flavour and crunch whilst others blow me away on over seasoning and being a touch over done but these ones were just your average scratching. And they claim to be hand cooked, as the latest addition to their range, but I honestly cannot tell a difference (full range available here).
A crunchy outside curve with a bit of a softer inside where the fat has not completely reduced down and that is generally where all of the additional seasoning put onto the product is stored. In general I tend to prefer actual crackling from a pork joint but when there are only two of you living together and money is a bit tight getting a whole joint is a touch excessive (also I looked up the prices recently and they seem to have skyrocketed – is there a pig shortage? Did the story about Cameron fucking one make them a highly desirable Tory pet?)
One of the main reasons I like to have the occasional pork scratching is because I like to play a bit of a game of Russian Roulette with my teeth because they certainly need to remain healthy and strong to nom through more than one of these. So far I am still winning the battle and enjoying seeing my constant toothpaste changing habits (if you follow my beauty empties you will know what I mean) have had no impact on my gloriously intact teeth.
But much like the earlier Sainsburys cheese puffs these are a product you really have to hold yourself back from because this 45g bag that would normally cost £1.10 contains two servings and with each serving being 141 calories if you end up eating the entire thing that is a pretty hefty dent in the daily allowance of the average person.
They are nice but they are certainly not worth it and especially not at full price and I am never really sure where they fit in to life. People have them in pubs but they are incredibly salty, much like the peanuts in pubs, and as a result you only end up being thirstier and needing to drink more. They provide little health benefits other than you getting to check out the quality of your teeth once in a while.