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Thursday, 16 January 2014

Save 82% on your breakfast costs- DIY instant oatmeal packets

The other day we ran out of Cheerios. We had bought one of those super giant boxes so our kids have been eating them for some time. But, truth be told, I was glad to see it gone.  Frankly its just not a great breakfast food. 

Cold cereal costs too much, doesn't pack enough nutritional punch and leaves my kids asking for snack about 40 minutes after breakfast. 
I decided we should switch to oatmeal.  However, I am a TOTAL wreck in the kitchen so it was unfathomable that I would be able to cook up a pot of oatmeal every morning for the kids before daycare started at 7am.  I liked the idea of the instant oatmeal packages one can buy in the stores but I was not willing to pay for them nor did I want that much sugar and nonsense in my kids diet every morning when I have to spend the whole day with them as they burn it off (ha ha).  

So I figured making my own instant oatmeal packets here at home would be the best solution. I looked up some recipes, did a little trial and error and came up with something that the kids and That Guy really love. It has the nice texture of the store bought packets, tastes great and costs roughly 82% less each week.

A typical box of cereal costs around $5. If myself and That Guy ate none it would feed both my kids for about a week.  Then we must factor in the cost of milk.  In Canada we pay around $4 for 4 liters of milk.  In a given week about half that milk is used on cereal, at least in our house. So it was costing about $7/week for me to feed our two young children breakfast.  But then, they were hungry less than an hour later. 

The oatmeal packets I made up come out to a lot less. 
The oatmeal costs $2
The amount of milk powder I used for the whole recipe would cost about about 50 cents
The brown sugar used for the whole recipe would cost $1.25
The salt I figure everyone has on hand

So all the ingredients for the whole recipe cost about $3.75.  But wait! That feeds both my kids for three weeks. So that works out to $1.25 per week, rather than $7 for Cheerios.  It keeps them full longer and they can make it themselves.  Its a win all the way around.  

Here's how I made my instant oatmeal packets, gentle readers:

Take seven cups of quick oats and set them aside in a large bowl. 

Seven cups of oats
 Take three additional cups of oats and quickly pulse them in a spice grinder until you have an oat powder- this only takes a matter of seconds. This 30% oat powder is how you get that quick cooking creamy oatmeal result.   If you do not have a spice grinder I recommend buying one.  They run about $10 and it will pay for itself in the first month of cereal savings. Add your oat powder to your large bowl.
oat powder
 Next add 1-2 cups of brown sugar to your large bowl (I use two cups for mine. That Guy has a sweet tooth) along with one cup milk powder.  Add two teaspoons of salt and you're set.
All your ingredients in a large bowl
 Mix all the ingredients together well.  I tried to use a wooden spoon but at the end of the day my hands simply did a way better job.   Then divide your mixture into half cup servings, I put ours into resealable sandwich bags.  **One half cup serving feeds both my young children, 5&2. OR the 1/2 cup is one serving for That Guy**
Portioned into half cup servings
 My whole recipe made 21 half cup servings.
21 instant oatmeal packets all ready to go. 
When you're ready to eat add 3/4 cups water and put it in the microwave for 1 minute 45 seconds (I learned the hard way that two minutes makes the oatmeal bubble over)

I also have out for the kids pre- portioned topping options for when they want a little something extra.  We have walnuts, almonds, raisins, dried cranberries, chocolate chips, maple syrup, and sprinkles. Of course fresh fruit is always a topping option available to the kids as well (and the option they often choose). 

On a side note: I got a bit of push back from Audrey the first time I tried to serve this to her. She had never come in contact with food of this texture and was not willing to try it. So I pulled out the Eat Anything Weapon.... rainbow sprinkles. 1/2 teaspoon of rainbow sprinkles on anything my kids dont want to eat and suddenly they see it as a fun treat they get to eat. This has been successful with oatmeal, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, pancakes that I *might* have allowed to get a tiny bit too dark... really anything. 

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