My daughter is addicted to popcorn. She eats it almost everyday as a snack. I purchase a box of little microwaveable pocorn at the grocery store and *POOF* it's gone. Not to mention, those bags are not inexpensive!
A couple of weeks ago, the family was watching "Good Eats" during TV time and Alton Brown did a show about popcorn (we love this show, by the way). The episode included how to cook your own popcorn on the stovetop. Now I know what you are thinking as you begin smelling that all too familar burnt smell, but his trick actually worked. He proposed that the shape of the cooking pan/bowl plays a key role in how many kernels pop. Most store-bought stove-top popcorn is done in aflat aluminum pan. Alton says that a nice stainless steel bowl works much better because it always popped pieces to move upward and leave kernels at the bottom for more heat.
Long story short, my family tried his trick and it worked to perfection!
Pour about 2T of vegetable oil in your bowl and about 1/3 c popcorn. Cover with aluminum foil and poke wholes to let steam out. Using your tongs, gently, shake your bowl (constantly) on the stove eye.
It takes about 5 minutes total, about the same time to use the microwave, to get perfect popcorn! The frugal part?? Well, a box of microwave popcorn can cost almost $4 for 10 snack bags. A bag of just popcorn kernels costs about $1.50 and contains more servings.
Oh, one more hint. If you are still using the microwave bags, store the unpopped kernels in a plastic bag and when you have enough, cook them as mentioned above. Voila, an extra serving!