Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cheaper Breakfasts (and Granola Recipe)

Jeff and I have decided that we are trying in earnest to save money for a down payment. We're tired of living in apartments and want to try to buy a house in the somewhat near future. That means really buckling down on our budget, and pinching pennies as hard as we can. One of the first things to be drastically reduced was meat - it's expensive so we just don't buy it or use it as much. I'm working on incorporating alternate sources of protein into our diet in place of meats - beans, whole grains, eggs and dairy, etc. (though we will buy meat when it's dirt cheap - yesterday Jeff saw that turkeys were 25 cents per pound, so we have a 20-pound turkey thawing in the fridge waiting to be roasted and frozen in meal-sized portions). Besides meat, another obvious-to-me food item to be cut from the budget is cold cereal. To me, it just can't be considered a good buy. I've been discovering all sorts of other ways to feed myself and my children a good breakfast without simply pouring a pile of flakes into a bowl and topping it with milk.

This morning, for instance, I made "square cereal with rice." At least, that's what I told Zaylee it was - she likes foods with fun names. I took some leftover Malt-O-Meal from yesterday and cut it into bite-sized cubes (hence the name "square cereal"). I fried the cubes in a small amount of oil with some leftover rice from yesterday's egg curry. Then I scooped that into our bowls, topped it with brown sugar and milk, and we ate a wholesome and delicious breakfast made entirely out of leftovers. We all loved it!

I plan to make a lot more hot cereals for breakfasts. Not just oatmeal and Malt-O-Meal, but also corn meal mush, cracked wheat, millet, barley, and I'll probably experiment with other grains as well. All of these can be cooked up and served with milk and sugar, jam, or fruit for a delicious and healthy breakfast that not only costs less than cold cereal, but leaves you feeling fuller and more satisfied as well. Another yummy breakfast I'll be revisiting from childhood is bread and milk - tearing pieces of homemade bread into a bowl and eating with milk and sugar. This also works well with corn bread.

Of course, some mornings I really do enjoy the convenience of cold cereal, because it requires no planning ahead or effort of any kind! So I will compromise by making my own cold cereal - granola. I have loved granola ever since I was a child, so I'm excited to start making my own. Here's a simple recipe from the More-with-Less Cookbook. It was easy to make and tastes great, and it will satisfy the desire for the convenience of cold cereal without having to use expensive, store-bought cereal.

Simple Granola
2 cups whole wheat flour
6 cups rolled oats
1 cup coconut
1 cup wheat germ (I substituted wheat bran)
1/2 cup water
1 cup oil
1 cup honey or corn syrup (I substituted 3/4 cup brown sugar and a little extra water)
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. salt

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, oats, coconut, and wheat germ. In another bowl, blend together remaining ingredients. Add blended liquids to dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Spread out onto 2 greased cookie sheets and bake 1 hour, or until dry and golden. I like mine a bit more crispy, so after the hour of baking I stirred it around and toasted it an additional 30 minutes. Store in covered containers.

This is a very basic recipe, which lends itself to adding things like nuts, seeds, raisins or other dried fruits. One to two cups of nuts and seeds can be added with the dry ingredients, but make sure to add any dried fruits after baking.


Meg said...

Your granola looks so yummy! I really need to try making my own.

Maria said...

Great granola! I don't eat meat so I guess I am saving money:) We buy lots of beans, tofu, veggies, etc. I always shop the sales too!! Do you ever go to Sunflower Market, there is one in Orem and Murray. They have the best prices on Wed. Double ad day! Check it out!

Mommy's Kitchen said...

I need to give this a try stephanie. Last time i made a granola recipe i burned it. I am going to try your recipe.

HoneyB said...

I've been thinking about making granola myself. I like adding dried fruit to mine. (which I get at Aldi for a very good price!)

MJ said...

thanks for posting, quite timely. I am just now preparing myself to make my own instant oatmeal. I love my cold cereal but it really takes up too much of my budget. Not really looking forward to the making of it (not too into cooking) but I gotta. Was just considering corn meal mush for dinners, but I could add stuff as you say for breakfast, thanks for the idea.

Rebekah said...

I gave you a couple of awards!

This looks good. You always have the neatest ideas!!!

Janelle said...

I'm happy to pass along the Lemonade Award to you!! Please check out my post from today for all the details: http://notjustleftovers.blogspot.com/2009/01/my-first-blog-awards.html

Have a wonderful day!!!!

Rachel and Jessica said...

Thank you very much for the recipe! I have been looking all over for a good basic granola recipe without any added things in it (picky eaters in my family!). I can't wait to try it!


Marisa said...

Thanks so much for sharing!!!! I totally agree that cold cereal does get expensive quickly. So I love this idea! Thanks!

joannabug said...

Yum! I'm glad you put the bit in about using brown sugar. I don't usually have corn syrup/honey on hand, so that makes it easier. Just need to motivate myself to make some!

Joie de vivre said...

I am sick of shelling out more than $4.00 for a box of granola that lasts my husband 4 days. I need to try your recipe! You have such a nice blog.

Barbara Bakes said...

Good luck saving for a house! Judy http://judyskitchen.blogspot.com/2009/01/turkey-bones-soup.html did a post recently about turkey bone soup that you might like.