Ever since I was old enough to buy my own movie tickets, I made a point of avoiding the outrageously expensive concession stand and bring my own snacks instead. Maybe it was because I grew up in Manhattan where an average movie ticket costs more than $16, but—even knowing it was frowned upon—sneaking in contraband goods became a regular occurrence. (Sorry, not sorry.)
But bringing your own snacks isn’t just a way to save money. It can also be a much healthier option. For example, a medium-size popcorn with butter racks up more than 800 calories and 36g of saturated fat as well as 600mg of sodium.
We asked our assistant nutrition editor, Jaime Vespa, MS, RD, to check out the snack aisles of pharmacies and major retailers to find the most satisfying and nutritious picks for your next movie. Here are the snacks she recommends.
Single Serving Sabra Hummus Cups
These powerhouse snack packets are sold individually and in bulk in different snack sections (I recently picked one up in a 7-Eleven!), and they’re compact enough to pack into any bag or pocket. Pair with a bag of baby carrots or whole wheat crackers—the Sabra hummus cup is a great low-calorie option at just 160 calories for an entire serving.
Dang Sticky Rice Chips
Justin’s Single Serve Peanut Butter Packet
You can find these squeezable, snack-sized servings of organic peanut butter near checkout at retailers like Target for $1 or less. They can easily be spread onto veggies or crackers of your choice and a serving of the peanut butter will only cost you 190 calories.
Annie Chun’s Gochujang Seaweed Crisps
These are the perfect balance of sweet and spicy—plus, the entire pack is just 160 calories. And the resemblance to the flavors of a full-on nori roll are striking. It’s like a spicy salmon roll in a bag.
Eat well. Lose weight. Live healthy, with the Cooking Light Diet.
Waterloo Sparkling Waters
If you think movie-sized popcorn bags are bad, the beverages are even worse. You can still get your fizzy fix with Vespa’s favorite sparkling water on the market—Waterloo’s cans tout a lovely row of zeros on the nutrition label, meaning you can have refills and feel good about it, too.