I’m back earlier than expected, and while the next week will continue to be overwhelming & busy, after finishing some group projects I have managed to steal part of today for myself. After a presentation tonight, I’ll turn my focus to two finals & then escape into summer vacation.
Two cancelled classes = a day to catch up on life, laundry, cooking & dusting. Hopefully, by the end of today we’ll have food stored up for the next few days & all of our laundry neatly folded rather than in piles around the room.
So much has happened lately that I don’t even know where to start. Let’s pick up where I usually do: food.
We’ve managed to get our grocery budget to $60 a week by utilizing sales sections to stock up, learning to use new dried grains & buying only what’s on the list. There is a lot to be said for planning meals in advance. Growing up, Mom always had a list. But our kitchen was also always filled with food, so it was more “maintaining stores” than “Oh crap, we truly have nothing to make for dinner again.”
We’re shopping pretty much exclusively at the organic co-op in town. And yes, we’re eating well on $60. (Sample meals: Israeli couscous with mushrooms & Swiss chard, Southwest-style quinoa and my personal favorite, nachos with beans & cheese). There’s a lot of mac & cheese, but we’re making it work.
Part of eating on a budget means knowing where you’re wasting money. For us, it was breakfast foods. Winter is easy: buy loads of oats. Now that it’s spring, we’re loving yogurt & granola, but even in bulk aisle that stuff is pricy! One week, I accidentally got $7 of granola. I audibly gasped. It’s just oats, cranberries & nuts, people!
So I thought, Never again. We’re going to make it ourselves.
And we did. Even on a high estimate, I’d say this granola, which gives the two of us breakfast for a week, is $5 a batch. And that’s on organic ingredients. I started with Alton Brown‘s recipe & changed it based on what we had on hand. So use this recipe more as a guide for proportions. I’ve used all honey. I’ve used all syrup. Just keep the measurements on track.
- 2 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 1/4 cup milled flax seed
- 1 cup whole almonds, chopped*
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 cup dried cranberries**
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
- Mix together all dry ingredients (oats through brown sugar). Set aside.
- Whisk together the oil, honey & syrup. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well to incorporate.
- Pour into a big cookie sheet (with sides, not the flat kind or you’ll have a big mess). Put in the over for an hour. Check and stir around ever 15 minutes.
- Let cook completely on cookie sheet. Move to airtight container. I’d say store it no more than 10 days, but I doubt that’ll be a problem…
I cook my granola less, because we like the light toastiness. If you like it darker or crispier, just keep it in the oven for an additional 15-30 minutes. After the hour mark, I’d check your oats every five minutes to avoid burning. (I’ve done it, and it’s not fun. You’ll have to eat burnt pecans all week.)
And there you have it! Less than an hour of prep time for your week’s breakfasts. Not bad! My goal with the “not French recipes” on this site is to be as economical & holistic as possible, so this healthy breakfast is a great way to start that off right.
*Talk about saving money! If you just buy whole nuts for everything, you’re not paying for the packaging, salting or slicing. Then, you can do whatever you like with them. $$$! (More like $!, but still exciting.)
**At times, I’ve left the dried cranberries out. I almost prefer it this way, so you get just the crunchy without the chewy.