This snack can be sweet or salty, and paired with other foods or eaten alone. It does it all.
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A shopping basket with a mystery snack in it on a designed background
Credit: Getty Images / AlexanderMas

Welcome to Thrifty. A weekly column where associate nutrition editor and registered dietitian, Jessica Ball, keeps it real on how to grocery shop on a budget, make healthy meals for one or two and make earth-friendly choices without overhauling your entire life.

My diet varies a lot from day to day and week to week. I love cooking, which certainly helps my cause, and eating a variety of vegetables, fruits, proteins and grains can help you be healthier, too. That being said, there are several foods that are standbys in my kitchen, like eggs and frozen berries. And being without hot sauce qualifies as an emergency situation to me. 

When I menu-plan, I tend to focus on meals (and dinner, in particular). But many of us need things besides meals to help keep us energized throughout the day. Yes, I'm talking about snacks. I love snacks, but I don't always plan them out in advance. To me, the perfect snack is something that is shelf-stable, ready to grab-and-go and actually fills me up. That's why nuts are the snack I never leave the store without. 

Besides being delicious, there are several reasons that nuts are so great. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes and flavors, so there's likely some type of nut that suits your snacking preferences. Plus, they're one of the healthiest foods around (longevity experts even say noshing on nuts every day can help you live longer). Nuts are full of healthy fat, fiber and protein to keep you full, alongside nutrients like magnesium, vitamin E, zinc and folate to keep your body functioning at its best. Snacking on them regularly can help promote heart health, reduce diabetes risk, fight inflammation and more. 

Similar to a plain white T-shirt, nuts can be dressed up or dressed down (read: eaten as is) in a pinch. To add flair to the nuts you buy, try one of our homemade spiced nuts recipes like our savory Pizza Pistachios. You can also buy packaged spiced nuts, just keep an eye on the added sodium and sugar content. For an even more filling snack, pair nuts with dried fruit, dark chocolate, cheese, apple slices or whatever your heart desires.

Every time I do my weekly grocery shop, you can find some type of nut (or package of mixed nuts) in my cart. They're filling, flavorful and make for a perfect snack in a pinch. For more, check out the 6 healthiest nuts to snack on