Monday, December 19, 2011

Food - Cheap and Good - Part 1

I am a bit of a magazine junkie, and in every month's issue there is some article about how to save money on groceries or frugal recipes.  These bug the heck out of me.

Yes, I am frugal, thrifty, penny-pinching, possibly even cheap.  So what's the problem?  Its bad enough when I already do the things they suggest and don't learn any valuable information.  What is worse is when their suggestions aren't that frugal to begin with.  I cringe every time I hear about a "budget" meal that costs over $3 per serving.  Seriously?  That is a splurge meal at our house.

I don't know, Dear Reader, if you are in a watch-the-money-closely mode right now, but our house is.  So, I thought I'd post a few ideas of ways we save money on our grocery budget for breakfast.  I'll tackle lunches and suppers at a different time.

1.  I have one child in particular who requires a lot of fiber in her diet.  A lot of fiber.  Tons.  We go through a lot of oatmeal.  My kids love the flavored oatmeal packets, but could easily eat 2-4 packets for a single meal.  Multiplied by 5 that is 10-20 packets a day.  To save money, sometimes we just add raisins, cinnamon, molasses, etc. to regular oatmeal (from the tubs) and top it with a sprinkle of colored sugar to make our own flavored oatmeal.  Sometimes, we will use a packet of instant and mix it with a bunch of regular tub oatmeal to stretch it and make it healthier.

2.  When you have bits and pieces of several kinds of cereal left over, but not enough for a big bowl, I combine them all and call it a "party mix"  Yes, its a bit disgusting to have crushed Raisin Bran flakes mixed with Cheerios mixed with the powdery bits of generic Captain Crunch.  But, my kids will eat it.  Note:  This tactic will require advanced marketing skills on your part.  You may not just pour it into the bowl and give it to them.  Instead put on your maniacally happy face and present the "party mix" with a flourish.  I would strongly encourage a bit of a jig and a homemade jingle to accompany it.

3.  Eggs and toast are cheap, cheap, cheap and don't take much time to make.

4.  Egg bakes are an easy way to feed a crowd if you had company stay over night.  They have the added advantage of being able to be assembled the night before and just baked in the morning.

5.  Pre-cooked bacon is insanely expensive per ounce and doesn't have that nice, crispness to it.  When I cook bacon, I cook 2 or 3 pounds at once, drain it and then freeze it.  It stays crispy, you only need to take out what you need at that meal, and you still have the quick convenience of ready made.

6.  I've stopped buying baking mixes for pancakes.  I make my own Bisquick and store it in the pantry.  It is cheaper per ounce than store bought and only takes a couple of minutes to make.

7.  I always felt wasteful throwing away those frosted shredded wheat crumbs at the bottom of the bag.  We now keep them and use them as a topping for yogurt or I use them in the following cookie recipe - which beyond frugality has the additional benefit of adding extra fiber to my child's diet who desperately needs it. 

High Fiber Shredded Wheat Cookies
  • 2 3/4 cups shredded wheat cereal, crushed (I use frosted, but plain works, too)
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (you can add in anything, really.  Craisins, raisins, white chocolate, butterscotch chips, M&Ms, toffee chips, etc.)
  • 1 cup butter room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and lightly grease a large baking sheet.
  2. Cream together the butter and the two sugars in a very large bowl.
  3. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Stir in the shredded wheat .
  6. Add the chocolate chips.
  7. Drop by  tablespoons onto the lightly greased baking sheet.
  8. Bake 8-15 minutes till the edges are slightly browned and the middle looks soft and squishy, but isn't doughy.
  9. Cool them completely before packing in an airtight container.
These freeze well.  You can also freeze the dough before baking.


Molly said...

Can we have your recipe for homemade Bisquick?

Anonymous said...

hi merry xmas to all of you - matty