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Take a Bite Out of Breakfast Costs
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day (so the experts tell us) as we fuel our bodies after a long night and prepare for a busy day ahead. That said, it’s also become a very pricey meal of the day! There are a slew of manufacturers out there that have bundled breakfast items in convenient, high fat, high sugar, and high COST ways and convinced YOU, the consumer that you NEED their products and you can’t live without them. I’m here to tell you otherwise. I’m going to help you take a bite out the rising costs of breakfast.
The prices of cereals have skyrocketed over the past few years as we’ve also watched the box sizes shrink! If you and your family really are addicted to boxed cereal then consider generic products. Generic cereals don’t have the flashy familiar faces we’ve come to know through advertising and thus cost much less. I stock up on certain cereals when our local IGA market has a truck load sale and I pay $1/large box. Corn flakes, oat circles and rice crispy type cereals that normally run 3.99 to 4.99 for a brand name are mine for $1. Now I do get brand name cereals IF and ONLY IF, there is a killer sale and I have a coupon to go with it. I NEVER spend more than $1.25 for a brand name cereal, especially considering my three boys can wipe out a box in two sittings. If I paid full price, that would equate to $2.00 to 2.50 for just breakfast meals alone (not counting milk). Generics are the way to go if you’re going to eat cereal.
A favorite cereal of ours is granola, but the store bought varieties are expensive AND many contain items we can’t or don’t eat (one nut allergy and three particular kids). I buy my oatmeal in bulk and make my own. There is a lot of flexibility in making your own granola and it isn’t too time consuming (make a batch when you already plan on starting up your oven). The basic premise is a sweetened, flavorful liquid that is poured over the oatmeal and stirred thoroughly and then the oatmeal is slowly dried in the oven allowing the flavor to stay with the oatmeal while the moisture is baked away. After it’s done, you can add any kind of dried fruit, nuts, or seeds.
Basic Granola Recipe
6 cups rolled oats
2 cups whole wheat flour (helps to create clusters of granola)
1 cup wheat germ (I have eliminated this before)
1 cup coconut
2 cups raisins (Craisins are good, too!)
¾ c. oil
½ c. brown sugar
½ c. molasses
½ c. water
1 TBS vanilla
Almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds can be added as well
Combine oats, flour, wheat germ and coconut. Mix well. Blend oil, sugar, molasses, water, vanilla and salt. Stir wet into dry-thoroughly moistening all. Spread onto greased cookie sheets. Bake at 250f for 45 minutes to 1 hour; stir occasionally. Bake until dry and crisp. Cool and then stir in your raisins, nut or other dried fruit. Store it in an airtight container. OH and word to the wise-watch your baking granola carefully-it will burn quickly! Please don’t ask how I know that.
Speaking of oatmeal, a friend of mine put me onto a great way to make hot oatmeal quickly! This technique also works well when you’ve got different people in the house wanting oatmeal done in different ways. I mix 1 part traditional rolled oats (usually ¼ c to 1/3 c) to 2 parts water in a microwave-proof bowl. I add in a bit of vanilla (you don’t have to-it makes me feel like I’m eating gourmet oatmeal), a tablespoon or two of brown sugar, a dash of cinnamon and salt and into the microwave it goes for two minutes. I’ve added dried fruits based on each child’s preferences and I’m sure you could throw in seeds and nuts as well. It’s quick and easy and significantly cheaper than buying the boxes of flavored instant oatmeal.
Make the following breakfast items in cooking sessions and then freeze them (freeze them first on cookie sheets and then place them in storage containers, they won’t freeze together in a solid lump that way). You might need to experiment as to the best way to reheat but generally I find that the microwave works great (although a toaster oven would probably work well, too). By making these items ahead of time, you can save serious time and money!
-French toast (a great way to use up stale bread!)
-breakfast burritos (scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage, grated cheddar cheese and salsa place in soft burrito wraps and then frozen; to reheat, place in microwave for 30 seconds to 1 ½ minutes depending on your microwave)
-breakfast sandwiches (make them with English muffins, bagels or biscuits and fill with items similar to the burritos and then freeze, reheating in the same manner)
-breakfast muffins (an egg-based “muffin” that has bacon or sausage, onions, peppers and cheese in it)
-breakfast casseroles-great ways to use eggs, leftover ham, peppers, onions, potatoes and other items in a casserole that can be kept in the fridge and reheated quickly in the microwave.
Now with all that said, breakfast doesn’t have to be made up of traditional breakfast items, either. There is no law that states that eggs and bacon and cereal are just for breakfast and breakfast is only bacon and eggs and cereal. Many a college student has fueled their morning with leftover, cold pizza! An inexpensive breakfast can be leftover anything!
So take a bite out of breakfast costs by thinking generic, thinking and making things ahead of time and thinking outside of the traditional breakfast food box (cereal box) that is!
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