The little Clay Pot

Lots of things can go in a little Clay Pot

Breakfast on a Budget. March 26, 2010

Personally, I am not a big breakfast person…unless it is a BIG breakfast: pancakes, eggs, bacon, oranges, fried potatoes, cinnamon rolls, coffee, Juice.  But let’s face it–the farm family breakfast is just not realistic on a daily basis–at least not in my house!  I think most Americans today have cold cereal, milk, perhaps a fruit, some juice and maybe some toast.  But I know that for us, for a looooong time the routine was–cold cereal–milk–and juice.   Except Saturday, Saturday is pancakes and I think my children would revolt if I tried to pull anything over on them in that department.  I missed a Saturday a few weeks ago and promised to make them on Sunday…there was no backing out on Sunday…they were ready to make a picket line in front of the bathroom if I started to recant!

So as I started this venture I immediately started noticing how much was being spent on cereal.  Even at Aldis a box of “Crisp Rice” is approx $1.49.  Even in Walmart you can expect to pay any where from $1.60- $3.00 (and I think I am being conservative here) for boxed cereal depending on the brand.  Then feed four children an average of 3/4-1 Cup of cereal each day…(Not to mention my husbands, “I’m ready to go to bed–it is time for a bowl of cereal.” habit.) I have to buy at least 2 boxes each week.  So even if it is Crisp Rice from Aldi’s (which is a smaller box and normally I would buy 3 boxes for a week) – that is $4.50 for breakfast not including a fruit or the milk.

Enter the Mighty OAT.  Am I dating myself if I refer to Wilford Brimley telling us all that eating oatmeal is “The right thing to do”?  Oatmeal is actually a very good breakfast food.  It is filling, but not fattening, it is warm or cold, and it is good for our cholesterol.  Amazingly it is also very cost effective.  I can buy rolled oats at my local Amish store for $.70/lb.  A 6.55 lb bag costs $4.59.  Now I have not figured out mow many cups are in 6.55 lbs of oat meal, but I only have to by a bag every few weeks. So figure it is about $1.50 a week?  OR I can buy STEEL CUT OATS (or Oat Grout) (the unrolled oat, some people say it is more filling because it is not processed) for $.62/lb.

My magic numbers for rolled oats are 2 to 4.  Boil 4 cups water, add 2 cups oats.  This is the perfect amount for my 4 kids (for now.)  I am preferring the oat grout right now for 2 reasons:

  1. The magic numbers are 1 to 4.
  2. I can put it  in the crock over night and it is ready in the morning, with minimal clean up!  The recipe can be found here. If my husband want’s to eat some before he goes to work, this is good for that too, because I don’t have to get up at 3am to make him oatmeal before he goes!  I just change the 1 cup oats to 4 cups of water to 1 1/4 cups oats to 5 cups of water.

Now, my kids do get a little tired of oatmeal with butter and brown sugar. So we started experimenting.  We add Fruit (fresh or frozen), nuts and coconut, chocolate chips, maple syrup.  Anything really.  A favorite treat is to mix hot cocoa into it!  But if we really need something different we use this method suggested by a reader.  This is great as a “cold cereal” or on top of yogurt or even plain.  And there is no limit to what you can add  nuts, fruit…hmmm probably even some hot cocoa (will have to experiment with that!)

I do not buy much juice, a lot of cost for not a great nutrition (depending on the variety of course).  So we drink tea or milk or water and have an orange or mandarin with breakfast to get in that Vit. C.  These typically are not too expensive at Aldi’s and a large orange can be split between 2 kids.   I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but based on the USDA guidelines Children aged 2-8 only need 1- 1 1/2 cup of fruit per day.   And when you look at what counts as 1 cup, you don’t need to eat your whole serving at once.  A half an orange at breakfast, and 1/2 cup of pears or apple at lunch…and *POOF* you’ve done it!  Throw some plums or raisins in for a snack and now you have exceeded the need and gotten most of the recommended vitamins!   Apart of the $$ problem is that we just plain eat too much and waste too much.  When we put in perspective what our bodies really need to be healthy…suddenly we are able to spend a lot less money.

Happy eating!

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One Response to “Breakfast on a Budget.”

  1. Mama Beth Says:

    It was precisely the expense of cereal that drove us to oats. In the mid-1990’s I started doing my grocery shopping with cash in hand instead plastic. Cereal at that time with my 4 hungry kids and husband was costing $28 every 2 weeks. And at that time a 50 lb. bag of oats was maybe $35 and lasted 6 weeks. I did let my kids wean off of cereal for a while – they would get 1/2 cup of cereal per day to eat with their granola. That was a good transition.

    15 years later I do have one son that won’t eat the granola, so I have a box of Aldi’s corn flakes that is his. But the rest have adapted to granola, adding yogurt or applesauce or milk, peanuts or peanut butter, raisins or not. And it also works as that “It’s time to go to bed – I need a bowl of granola!”

    Another way to change the flavor is to use honey or molasses as the sweetener instead of sugar. You might also need less water. With molasses, walnuts make a nice change. And if you toast it, that changes the texture, which also makes a nice change.

    Rather than do fruit at breakfast we do a fruit snack in the middle of the morning. This is oranges, pineapple, pears, frozen blueberries, frozen strawberries, grapes. Apples are snack food for other times of day.


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