Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Why I Don't Eat My Wheaties

A common complaint I hear regarding eating more naturally is that it costs more.  True, in general it does, and if you fill your fridge and pantry with USDA organics, you're especially going to feel it in the wallet.  However - and I often have to remind people of this - we're managing to eat healthy on a teacher's salary.  And one way I've saved a ton of money has been to ditch buying breakfast cereal.

On sale, the generic, organic cereal I used to buy cost at least $2.50 per box, and our family of four would easily go through a box every two days since the stuff really isn't that filling.  It also became an easy snack and an evening comfort food for me and Byron.  So on average, that's $8.75 per week, which adds up to $455 per year!  Wow!  That's a lot of money for relatively empty calories.

The solution?  Though it takes time, the past couple years I've been making our breakfast from scratch, for pennies on the dollar of what I used to pay for cereal.  I've worked out a schedule that allows me to not have to do this every morning, and that's the type of fast food I like!  The breads and pancakes also freeze very well.

Here's an idea of what I do:

Sunday: Huge stack of pancakes to last us 3-4 days.
Wednesday: Two loaves of breakfast bread, made from zucchini or pumpkins I grew and froze last summer.  This lasts 2-3 days.
Saturday: Oatmeal, which is a nice break from the bready stuff.  A five-pound bag, which costs about $5, lasts us over a month, and I also use it for granola.

The pancakes and breads also tend to double as snacks, which is incredibly handy and again saves me time and money.  I do sometimes add a small handful of chocolate chips to the zucchini bread.  A bit Machiavellian, I admit, but who isn't willing to sell out a little to get her kids excited about eating zucchini?

Of course, there are those times when breakfast cereal (or in this particular case, bagels from the store) can come in very handy...

As if our house isn't enough of a wreck, our stove shorted out last week...

...due to a jimmy-rigged connection.

Thankfully, it shorted out against metal, not the wood cabinet!

Anyway, just throwing this money-saving, healthy idea out there. What do you do to eat healthy on a budget?


  1. I agree breakfast cereal isn't a value for sure. I also agree buying USDA organic is more expensive but as you say there are ways to cut what we have to buy, just like with your breakfast foods your making. It does usually require as you say some of our time but its our health! :O) I cook a ton from scratch as it does save money. I do not work outside the home so that surely helps me on the time thing. So you froze your Zuchs and then use them in the bread? I assume you grated them before you froze them? I have not used my freezer much but I think this year I will be. I also plan to dehydrate Zuchs and Yellow Squash this year. I wonder if Zuch rehydrated would work in breads?

    1. I haven't tried dehydrating, though I imagine that would work somehow - maybe by adding some water? I shredded the zucchini before freezing, yes, and should mention it's a good idea to squeeze out some of the moisture either before freezing or before adding to the batter! And this is definitely something that's easier to do if you don't work outside the home. I would probably rely more on the store if I were still doing the 9-5 deal, and maybe do some freezer cooking on the weekends.

  2. Beans are healthy and cheap. I made a really yummy soup this weekend in the crockpot - bag of limas, 3 cups shredded cabbage, chicken broth to cover, red pepper flakes, ground pepper, marjoram - so simple yet surprisingly a lot of flavor! And...uh....you'll get your fiber for the week! You have to cook it all day though - I think it was in around 11 hours.

  3. Oh, and chopped onion and garlic - forgot those 2 key ingredients! ;-)

    1. I love thrown-together soups, and have been weaning Byron onto beans so we can save $$. This sounds great - thanks for sharing.

  4. I try to replicate store-bought items with recipes I can make myself. Since I am a flour and sugar hoarder, it usually doesn't cost too much to do. :)