We love cereal in this house.
But I am faced… EVERY SINGLE FREAKIN’ MONTH making the same choices everyone else makes: spend less on food and eat ingredients that aren’t as beneficial, or spend more on food and sacrifice something else. Sometimes, I don’t have a choice. Medical bills from ongoing issues (story here), car repairs you don’t expect, the vacuum cleaner breaks. You know, life. And then it means we have to eat cheap because if I don’t have the money, I DON’T HAVE THE MONEY.
And you all know what I’m talkin’ about.
Now, I have my methods around this. First off, Aldi’s, y’all. ALDI’S. This store saves me. In the perfect world I would be a perfect locavore. But… when it feels like everything breaks in your home at the same time and the family still has to eat… Aldi’s. I’ve told you all before how this store makes up for my imperfect life.
So back to my cereal… the ingredient lists are mostly disheartening. And if the ingredient list is not disheartening, then the price tag is… I can guarantee it. Do I sacrifice ingredients or my money?
My work around: granola.
Oats are CHEAP. I throw in nuts when I have them (a.k.a. can afford them) but you can easily sub in more oats instead. Run out of milk already? Sub in more water. I use coconut oil (back to finding something awesome at Aldi’s!) but you can put in whatever oil/butter you have on hand. You can make this what you want and as expensive OR cheap as you desire.
- 10 Cups of Rolled Oats
- 1 Cup of Slivered Almonds
- 1/2 Cup of Melted Coconut Oil
- 4 Cups of Warm Water (just not ice cold…. does funky stuff to that oil)
- 1 Tbl Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 Cup of Whole Milk
- 1.5 Cups of Sweetener of Choice
- 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 Tbl Cinnamon (or Pumpkin Pie Spice is great, too!)
- Good Dash of Salt
- Large Bowl for Mix, one that you can seal up for several hours (cling wrap is fine)
- Dehydrator OR You can use the oven (see instructions further down on this)
Okay, so are you ready for this: MIX ALL THE INGREDIENTS THOROUGHLY. Let it sit on your counter at room temperature for about 7-8 hours. (You can let it sit for longer if you need to!)
You read that right. That’s all you gotta do before the cooking.
I recommend covering it… but really just to ward of bugs and hands who want to taste it early.
Now onto the cooking part: You’ll need to cook this one of two ways: either a dehydrator on its highest setting or an oven. I’ve made it both ways, my preference is a dehydrator. I own this dehydrator and L-O-V-E it. You can buy it new, you can also buy it used. I mean… I am talking about saving money here. I asked for one for Christmas a few years ago and my dear, sweet husband who knows his wife’s heart found a used one, in good condition, on ebay. You do what you gotta do.
1) You can leave it in a dehydrator for days and it won’t go bad. Don’t have time to deal with it right then? It’s fine. Leave it (you’ll just keep using electricity).
2) It doesn’t burn.
3) No stirring required or watching.
4) It takes about 6 hours at the highest temperature on the dehydrator.
If you use an oven, preheat to 350* and spread it as thin as you can across at least two cookie sheets. You have to watch it, take it out and stir frequently. (And taste frequently!) This method will work, it’s just more time intensive. You can’t put it in and walk away like you can with the dehydrator… you need to stir it about every 15 minutes until it’s just starting to crunch when you taste-test it. In my experience this can take an about an hour, but will depend on how thin you spread your granola across baking sheets.
You can store your in an airtight container… for a couple of weeks.
Here’s how I usually do it: I start the granola in the morning sometime. In the evening, I put it on the dehydrator. The next morning… viola. Breakfast ready.
No yucky ingredients. I mean, you know exactly what’s in it. You’ve got around 12 cups of crunchy goodness for breakfast. Depending on appetites and family size, this can carry you for quite some time!
We eat it like cereal… but is great with the traditional yogurt, too. Enjoy your money-saving treat as we do. My girls say it’s the best granola of their life.
DISCLOSURE: There may be affiliate links within this post. I never recommend anything arbitrarily and receive small financial benefit. If I choose to recommend something, it’s of my own free will and volition and MORE because I think you’ll benefit from hearing about it more than me gaining the $$.