In 2008, we made a big life-changing decision. At the time, we were living paycheck to paycheck on a modest and irregular ministry income. We used credit cards to make ends meet. The stress of full-time ministry and unpredictable income left us burned out.
We committed to pay off all our debt in a short amount of time. In order to make that happen, we had to learn how to live on less than we made at that time. It felt nearly impossible, but we made it work. We were creative and desperate.
I started clipping coupons and shopping at Aldi. I experimented with many things to reduce our food budget. I learned what we needed to survive and what we could live without.
Along the way, I found one simple trick that saved us around $500 a year on food.
We stopped buying boxed cereal.
Boxed cereal is expensive! The average box of cereal in the US is around $3.50. Some boxes in my local grocery store can be as much as $4.50!
Our family can eat 4 boxes of cereal in a week. If you multiply that over a year, we could save $500 a year if we quit eating cereal! If you are looking to trim your food budget, quitting boxed cereal is an easy place to start.
I find the convenience of cereal to be the number one reason people fear giving it up. I get it. Cereal is convenient and fast. It is quick, meal on busy mornings. Most kids can wake up and feed themselves a bowl of cereal. It is easy for Mom and convenient for kids.
Honestly, there are many nutritious and quick options for your family to eat each morning. We have gotten so accustomed to cereal, we have forgotten our options!
Also, cereal is not filling. I find my kids eat twice as much cereal in one sitting just to fill up and they are hungry an hour later! Not to mention, most cereals are filled with ingredients we probably don't want are kids eating in large batches. (Hello SUGAR!)
I have experimented throughout the years with our family on other breakfast options that are nutritious and fast. Here is what we eat instead of boxed cereal.
HOMEMADE GRANOLA. Granola is a filling and cheap breakfast option.On the weekends, we make 2 huge batches of granola. A plain batch and a chocolate batch. I store ours in 2 large Bar Jars. My boys can serve themselves which I LOVE!
They usually eat granola with milk or yogurt. I find granola keeps them fuller longer and they only eat about half as much in one sitting than boxed cereal. One large jar of granola will last us twice as long as a box of cereal.
GREEN SMOOTHIES. I started experimenting with green smoothies almost 2 years ago. I LOVE green smoothies and recently tried making them for the kids.
My oldest was the most resistant to breakfast. She doesn't love granola and I wanted to give her a nutritious option for breakfast that wasn't coated in sugar. We made a lot of different green smoothies until she found the blend she likes the best. If your kids are resistant to green smoothies, keep trying. Sometimes they don't like to flavor of one particular fruit. Try different combinations until one works!
Green smoothies are easy to make and we purchase all our ingredients at Aldi for just a few bucks. Older kids can mix these by themselves or you can make them the night before and store it in the fridge.
OATMEAL. Oatmeal packets are a great, frugal, nutritious option for breakfast. Especially during Midwest winters, oatmeal is a warm comforting option. You could always make your oatmeal on the stove if instant oatmeal is not your thing. You could also bake a big batch of oatmeal the night before and heat it up in the morning. We like to cook instant oatmeal in the microwave with frozen fruit from Aldi. It is delicious!
TOAST WITH NUT BUTTER AND BANANA. Toast with nut butter and banana is a fantastic option for busy mornings. Even little kids can learn to operate a toaster with an adult around! Toast is easily portable and nut butter will keep those tummies full for a long time!
EGGS. Kids as old as 9 or 10 can make eggs. Teach your kids how to fry eggs or make omelets. Each of my three kids like their eggs in different ways. Slowly, I have taught them how to make their eggs. It is a great skill to learn. Hard boiled eggs are also a great option. Keep a bowl in the fridge for busy mornings.
FREEZER COOKING. Do a freezer cooking session and make some breakfast options your family will love. You could make breakfast burritos, egg sandwiches, or waffles and/or pancakes. Homemade tastes so much better than boxed or frozen and is cheaper too.
This approach takes some planning and work but there are many great options to boxed cereal. If you have bought boxed cereal for years, give your family time to adjust. Go slowly and pay attention to the foods they love.
I am a big believer in teaching kids to cook early. Teach them how to prepare their own breakfast. It is a wonderful life skill!
Let us know, what non-cereal items does your family LOVE?