Saturday, March 12, 2011

Frugal Family Fun--Movie Night

Saturday nights are the kids' "movie night" at our house.  They pick a movie they want from the library (where rentals are free!  Where we lived before this, it was $1 for 2 movies that you got to keep a week) sometime during the week or ,occasionally, we'll get a movie through, a free internet movie trading site.  Then, while the movie is starting, I'll usually pop up a giant bowl of popcorn on the stovetop.  Apparently, not everyone knows how to make popcorn without microwave bags anymore, so I figured I'd share this extremely complicated (please note the sarcasm) money saving technique, along with some creative popcorn toppings to add a bit more zip to it.


Heat a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large pan with a lid.  Add a kernel or two to test to see when it is ready--when they pop, it is ready to add the rest of the popcorn.  When the oil reaches the right temperature, add the rest of the popcorn.  Please keep in mind that a little popcorn kernels make a lot of popcorn!  I will usually make about a half cup, which makes a very large bowl (about 3 quarts) for all the kids to share.
A half eaten bowl of popcorn with apple juice to drink
  To top the popcorn, you can go the traditional route of just sprinkling some salt and maybe some butter, but there are many other options:
  • Salt and sugar (brown or white, or both!):  This is a favorite of my kids and gives the popcorn a nice salty/sweet flavor combination (obviously).
  • Brewer's yeast:  I don't like this one, but my brother swears by it and I've heard lots of other people gush about it, so maybe I'm just weird
  • Chocolate:  I haven't actually tried this one yet (because I never remember to buy powdered sugar!) but it is definitely one I want to try!  Mix together 1 tbsp powdered sugar, 1 tsp cocoa powder, and a pinch of cinnamon.  Sprinkle and serve
  • Cinnamon and sugar:  Sprinkle on in equal parts
  • Pizza:  This is another one I've been meaning to try but haven't yet (the kids don't think they'll like it, so I'll have to try it when my husband I have a middle of the night "date" watching a movie together in the living room!).  In a small bowl, combine 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp basil, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes, and 2-3 tbsp Parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle on the fresh popcorn and add more Parmesan cheese if desired.


  1. Make your own powdered sugar! You just need to run regular sugar through the blender for a few minutes until its powdered and smooth.
    You can also make your own brown sugar with molasses and white sugar. 1T per cup is plenty, just stir until mixed. I do it by eye, and I never have rock hard brown sugar!

  2. I'll have to try that for the powdered sugar, now that I have a blender again!

  3. my sister-in-law loves hot sauce on her popcorn. ben does too.

  4. Nutritional yeast, not brewer's yeast! Brewer's yeast is gross and bitter! Even better with a couple squirts of soy sauce from a spray bottle.

  5. I've heard brewer's yeast and nutritional yeast both get used for popcorn topping (probably part of why the two are so confusing!), but they both are gross to me! lol