As you’ve probably read in some of our other posts, Al and I typically spend less than $60/month on food
. One of the ways we do this is by making a lot of food from scratch
. But what about breakfast? Oatmeal is a great, inexpensive option, but sometimes it’s nice to have a box of cereal ready to grab for a quick eat-and-go breakfast. I’ve always been a huge cold cereal lover, so Al and I switch back and forth between hot oatmeal and cold cereal throughout the week. However, cereal can get quite pricey and is one of those things that is a bit hard to make at home (have YOU ever tried to make Rice Chex?). So how do we allow ourselves this extravagant indulgence and still keep our food costs so low?
Easy. We make our own granola.
Granola is one of those foods that is expensive to buy but oh so easy and inexpensive to make (much like our beloved pesto). When Al and I were newlyweds and in between jobs, I decided I needed to find a recipe that had the cheapest and fewest ingredients, required ingredients I already had at home, and was super simple to make. I searched and searched, and after a few experiments, lots of substitutions (and a few flops), I finally squeezed it down to the cheapest, simplest, easiest, most consistently-successful-while-still-tasty granola recipe that we have been using for the last 5 years. Al says he likes this simple recipe better than any of the others with gourmet ingredients and fancy add-ins, so I think that’s enough reason for it to be a keeper!
Consider this a foundational, base recipe that can be eaten as is, adjusted, and added to as much as you like.
- 14 cups quick oats (1 - 42 oz canister)
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 cups water
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 2 Tbsp vanilla
- Blend all ingredients except oats for about 10 seconds.
- Pour over oats and mix immediately until liquid is evenly distributed.
- Spread loosely onto 2 cookie sheets.
- Bake at 200 degrees (higher or lower depending on your oven) until crisp (approx. 6-9 hrs).
- Rotate every 3-4 hrs and mix at least once to decrease baking time.
- Once cooled, store in airtight container.
Although it may be tempting to decrease the amount of oil, oil is what gives the granola a crispy texture (as opposed to hard like rocks - trust me, we tried!).
Feel free to add nuts (slivered almonds, cashews, walnuts, etc), seeds (sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, flax, etc), shredded coconut, and dried fruit (add after baking if you want them to stay chewy - dried apples, raisins, diced dried apricots).
You can also add almond or maple extract, a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg, or just about anything else you fancy. If you add other liquids (i.e. orange juice, coconut milk), adjust the amount of water so that your total amount of liquid stays about the same.
If you like granola with clusters, let it bake for at least 5-6 hrs before mixing (allows the clusters to set).
I line the cookie sheets with parchment paper so I can just lift and pour the finished granola into a container. Make sure to reuse the parchment paper!
Can also be used as a fruit crisp topping, sprinkled on smoothies, or as a layer in parfaits.
Pans of granola headed for the oven.
Since this is supposed to be a crumb-saving recipe, the big question I know all of you are wondering is: “How much does this cost?” We’ve broken down the cost of the ingredients for one batch below based on the prices we pay at our local Aldi. Naturally your costs may vary depending on your cost of ingredients.
|Cost/serving (at 20 servings/batch)
*We have an electric oven and due to our solar panels, we pay nothing for the energy to bake this granola.
If Al and I each ate granola every morning for breakfast, we would be spending approximately $9 for the whole month. Not too bad considering that store-bought granola usually costs about $3-4 per box which works out to be double the cost per serving or more (depending on how fancy of granola you choose). But if you want to really supersize your savings, eat your super easy, super cheap homemade granola with super easy, super cheap homemade rice milk. That’s a delicious Crumb Saver breakfast!
So if you’re looking for a healthy way to save money on breakfast (and are getting tired of oatmeal every day), granola might be a good way for you to shave down your food budget without compromising health, taste, convenience, or time. Sounds appetizing to me!