Thursday, August 6, 2009

Breakfast Bargains

Have you ever wondered what the profit margins are on breakfast cereals? C’mon, how can you charge $4 a box for something made with corn and rice and not feel the least bit guilty? I’m guessing it has something to do with the price of stock. And that the four major manufacturers control 85% of the market. It’s not the product you’re paying for; it’s the marketing and our insatiable appetite for convenience. Well, I’m tired of it. While I haven’t figured out how to make frosted flakes from scratch, I have discovered how simple (and cheap!) it is to make instant oatmeal. I will never again pay nearly $5 for a box of 8 little packets of artificially sweetened oatmeal. Never mind the packaging excess for such a small amount of food. Here’s how to make it yourself:

Instant Oatmeal

4 cups old fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
¾ teaspoon salt

Process in food processor or blender and grind to the consistency of wheat germ. It does look a little more like cream of wheat than instant oatmeal, but my kids didn’t complain and they loved it. I added about 1/3 cup brown sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon to flavor mine. Other things you could flavor it with: raisins, chopped pecans, dried cherries, blueberries, or apples. This recipe is so simple it seems criminal that I’ve been paying such a huge amount for instant oatmeal for years. If only I’d known.

The other cereal that is eaten on a regular basis in our house but costs exorbitant amounts is granola. Now, I can understand the hefty price tag on this cereal because nuts and dried fruit costs more than oats. Still, making my own does save me money and it eliminates more packaging. Plus, I know what goes in to it (and what does not), so I feel better about eating it. This is a recipe I adapted from Cooking Light magazine. You could also add ¼ cup flax meal if you want even more fiber.

Homemade Granola

6 cups rolled oats
½ cup chopped almonds
¼ cup slivered almonds
¾ cup chopped pecans
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon celtic sea salt
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup pineapple juice
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup golden raisins

1. Preheat oven to 300.
2. Combine first 6 ingredients in large bowl. Add syrup, honey, juice, and extract; toss well.
3. Spread mixture evenly onto a jelly roll pan (or two). I use a stoneware pan, but if you’re using something else, you should probably spray with cooking spray first.
4. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
5. Stir in cranberries and raisins. Cool completely. Store in air-tight container.

I’ll keep looking for some way to make cheaper breakfast cereals, but I’m guessing Captain Crunch has a lock on that recipe. These two recipes are healthier anyway. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Cara,

    I'd like to suggest polenta, aka corn meal, served with sauce and cheese or an egg for an inexpensive dinner. The leftovers can be formed into thin patties then browned in a skillet and served with maple syrup for breakfast. You might also look for a recipe for Indian pudding. It can be made in the oven or even a crockpot. Yummy with raisins and molasses and perfect for breakfast