Tag Archives: oatmeal

The Perfect Breakfast: Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal

 

As we all well know, the way to lose weight is to make the amount taken in (calories you eat) less than the amount taken out (exercise). In a similar way, the way to save money is to make the amount taken in (job, passive income, business) MORE than the amount taken out (expenses like house, utilities, clothes, car, and food).

While there are many ways to increase the amount of money you bring in, like negotiating you salary, job hopping for a higher salary, or creating a side business, there are also many ways to reduce the amount of money you spend. Like realizing you need less house than you thought, driving older used cars or forgoing cars entirely, cutting or negotiating your utility bills, or other weird things that work for your lifestyle.

A big expense that literally everyone has control over and could bring down is one which we also require to keep living: food.

Food is a broad category, which could include eating out, happy hours, lunch with coworkers, home cooked meals, potlucks, delivery and take out, or monthly cooking subscription boxes like Blue Apron, Plated, or Hello Fresh. Everyone has different ways of managing these expenses, from whipping out the credit card and never thinking about it, to detailed line items in a budget spreadsheet.

Now, as the Budget Epicurean, I obviously will never advocate for eating only cardboard-flavored clearance items for the rest of your life. I LOVE FOOD. This entire website is proof of that fact.

However.

We also don’t eat like kings every single day. In fact, we very rarely eat outside the house at all. Luckily, I naturally enjoy cooking, the hubs also likes (most of) what I cook, and we both love leftovers. So our food spending is pretty low compared to most people’s. But even we have some room to “cut the fat”.

One of the best ways to decrease overall spending is to find staple meals that both are cheap, and you actually enjoy. If the thought of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich makes you nauseated (or you’re allergic to peanuts…) then that is probably not a good choice for your frugal food budget arsenal. There are literally infinite articles in the world on frugal/cheap meal ideas. Google a bit, and note down a few that sound good. Then make them, and see how you like it.

This recipe has become my absolute favorite breakfast go-to meal: Cinnamon Sugar Raisin Oatmeal.

Oatmeal is very filling, due to its high level of soluble fiber. It is fantastic for your heart and digestion, and contains many minerals needed for overall health. It is a blank canvas on which you can paint a rainbow of textures and mix-ins. From seeds and nuts to dried and frozen fruits, white sugar, brown sugar, or maple syrup, oatmeal variations are endless.

It is also dirt cheap.

Bought in bulk, online, or in canisters from the store, oats are one of the cheapest per-calorie whole grain options out there. If you can handle the flavor of plain cooked oats, man, your heart and wallet will thank you!

But I have to have at least a little flavor. My “fancy-pants” oatmeal involves raisins, cinnamon, salt and sugar and tastes divine. It also costs two quarters per serving!

Every day I choose to eat this rather than buy a breakfast sandwich, bagel, or any other kind of fast food alternative, I’m saving more quarters to add to my investment accounts or put towards big life goals.

Here’s how the costs break down:

  • Oats: 2.39 for 42 oz
    • Per serving: 8 oz = 0.45
  • Raisins: 1.49 for 16 oz
    • Per serving: 1 oz = 0.09
  • Cinnamon: $1 for 2.5 oz
    • Per serving: 0.25 oz = 0.10
  • White sugar: $1.89 for 4 pounds
    • Per serving: .5 oz = 0.01
  • Salt: 0.54 for 26 oz
    • Per serving: .25 oz = 0.005

Total per serving = $0.56

The easiest way to prep this is to make a big batch every other week in a mason jar. I fill it 3/4 of the way with oats, pour in some raisins, cinnamon, sugar and salt. I put the cap on, and shake-shake-shake!

Then I take it to work, stick it in my desk drawer, and it is waiting for me every morning. Sometimes I do make breakfast at home, like a smoothie or a granola bar or some microwave eggs benedict. But when I don’t have the time or energy, I know I will still have a nice warm bowl of oatmeal just the press of a “hot water” button away.

 

How about you guys, any good low-cost-per-serving recipes you want to share??

Peach Oatmeal with Kefir

 

Some of you reading this may be thinking “what in the heck is kefir“?, and, “How do you pronounce that?”, or maybe, “Oatmeal is awful boring goop.”

Well, I have heard it pronounced both “kef-eer” and “keef-er” and I don’t have a strong opinion on which is correct.  If anyone knows for sure feel free to comment below.  But call it whatever you want, what it is a superfood that has many proven health benefits of kefir supported by research.  It is essentially fermented milk.

Now, before you go all “ewww, fermented stuff is gross!” hear me out.  This is a drink which has been around for many many years, used by different herding cultures and passed down through the ages.  Many peoples mostly lived on milk from their herds as they were nomadic, and they would store milk in leather pouches for days at a time.  This would gradually ferment into a sour, thicker, yogurt-like liquid that they could store even longer.  These people were known for their health and vigor.  “Elie Metchnikoff, a Nobel-prize winning biologist at the Pasteur Institute, first suggested that lactobacilli might counteract the putrefactive effects of gastrointestinal metabolism in 1908. ” (source)

The fermented milk would contain chunks of symbiotic cultures of various lactobacilli (a type of bacteria), yeasts, and other microorganisms which are useful for healthy digestion.   For those with a scientific curiosity: “Microorganisms present in the grains include lactic acid bacteria, Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lb delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus, Lb helveticus, Lb casei subsp. pseudoplantarum and Lb brevis, a variety of yeasts, such as Kluyveromyces, Torulopsis, and Saccharomyces, acetic acid bacteria among others. ” (source)

Kefir has antibiotic and antifungal properties. It’s been used in the treatment of a variety of conditions, including metabolic disorders, atherosclerosis, and allergies, tuberculosis, cancer, poor digestion, candidiasis, osteoporosis, hypertension, HIV and heart disease. It may also help restore a better balance to the gut flora, alleviating conditions such as diarrhea, constipation, gas, and bloating.  Many lactos-intolerant people also find they are able to drink kefir without difficulty, as the fermentation breaks down much of the problematic sugars in the milk.  If you’re interested, feel free to read about the differences between kefir and yogurt .

In addition to beneficial bacteria and yeast, kefir contains many vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes.  Among these small health benefits are: calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, B2 and B12, vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin D, and many amino acids.  In particular, tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids abundant in kefir, is well known for its relaxing effect on the nervous system.  Kefir in the diet can have a particularly calming effect on the nerves due to this and other salts important for a healthy nervous system.

 

Peach Kefir Oatmeal Ingredients

So now that I’ve hopefully convinced you to give kefir a chance, how do you get it into your diet?  Well, of course one option is to just eat/ drink it as if it were yogurt, as a snack or part of a meal.  You can also use it like milk and pour over cereals for breakfast.  You can whip it up into a smoothie just as you would with water or milk.  Or you can try this delicious recipe to make Kefir Oatmeal!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 can of peaches (in juice or water, not syrup, or home canned)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 2 tbsp – 1/4 cup kefir
  • Optional: Sprinkle of cinnamon

Peach Oatmeal with Kefir

Step 1: Pour the oats and water into a bowl with the peaches, and microwave on high about 3 minutes.  You can also cook this in a slow cooker on low overnight, or simmer on the stove top for 5-7 minutes.  Feel free to use any type of fruit you have and like here, frozen berries work well, as do bananas, pears, cherries, or apples.

Cinnamon vanilla peach kefir oatmeal

Step 2: Sprinkle on some cinnamon if using, stir well.  Let the oatmeal sit and soak for a few minutes.  When it is cooled enough that you can put your finger in it and not get burned, add the kefir and mix it in.  (You don’t want to boil alive all the healthy micro organisms we just talked about!)

You can also make this at night, and let it sit at room temperature, covered, overnight for some extra fermentation.  You will get great digestive benefits from both the whole grain oats and fiber as well as the beneficial bacteria.  Add more or less kefir to your own tastes based on how sour you like it.  If you absolutely must, you can add in some maple syrup or honey, but I like it just plain as is.  Enjoy!

Recipe Review: Overnight Oatmeal from Oh She Glows

 

We all know by now that eating breakfast is a good idea. It gets your metabolism going, and should help keep you from eating everything in sight by 11am. Now, in an ideal world we would all love cooking, be world-class chefs, have a kitchen and pantry stocked with nutritious foods, be able to dedicate an hour every morning to whipping up filling, healthy delicacies, and have a personal dish-washer and house cleaner afterwards.

This is not how the real world works.

Many of you are decidedly *not* morning people, and the thought of heating up a frying pan or dicing veggies before three cups of coffee is repulsive. Many of you have children, and the idea that you will have more than ten free seconds to yourself is laughable. And many just don’t enjoy cooking, don’t want to wake up 20 minutes early to make time to cook, or for whatever reason just don’t want to cook a hot breakfast.

That is totally fine. I have a solution that is far healthier and easier on your wallet than running through a drive through and wasting $8 on a carb-heavy bagel, fatty cream cheese, and overpriced coffee that will just leave you with a mid-morning slump.

At the risk of giving away the secret, I’ll tell you: oatmeal.

Ok, cat’s out of the bag. For those of you who just thought “ugh, I refuse to eat gruel for breakfast”, stay with me.

Oats are a powerhouse food, containing the highest amounts of beta-glucan, a beneficial type of fiber, in any known grain. Beta glucan helps slow digestion, and lowers levels of the ‘bad’ cholesterol. This fiber also helps you feel full longer, by eating fewer calories. They also contain a bundle of trace minerals our bodies need for all sorts of functions.

The FDA claims oats can help lower risk of heart disease, and many publications back up that claim. The only caution against oats is that, although they do not contain gluten, they are often grown in the same fields or near other crops such as wheat or barley. Thus those who truly are gluten-intolerant should be cautious.

Anywhoodles, in order to up your oat consumption without feeling like the little kid from Charles Dickens eating his gruel, there are so many things you can do to spruce up a bowl of oatmeal. And making it yourself at home can also save you tons of money and loads of added calories, sweeteners, preservatives, thickeners, etc. over pre-packaged microwave oatmeal options.

The time-saving factor comes in when you try the recommendation of “Oh She Glows” blogger: overnight oatmeal.

Anyone who has tried using real, raw oats rather than the “instant” or “minute” stuff knows, it takes a looooooong time to cook. So by soaking the oats overnight in the refrigerator, problem solved! The oats are soft and ready to go, you just need to give it a quick blast of heat, then add toppings as desired.

My first go, I followed the recipe exactly. Since then, I’ve experimented with oodles of different toppings. I’ll tell you my current fave at the end of the post!

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1-2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/3-1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup almond/soy milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed
  • Optional: cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, sea salt, nuts/seeds/dried fruit

IMG_7211

Step 1: Mash your banana into a glass bowl. Add the oats, flax, and chia. Sprinkle on whatever spices you’re using: I added some cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.

IMG_7212

Step 2: Add the milk and water, and put it in the fridge overnight.

IMG_7213

Step 3: Now, while you sleep, the oats and chia are soaking up the moisture and getting nice and soft.

IMG_7214

Step 4: In the morning, add any other toppings you didn’t want to get too mushy, like dried fruits, nuts, or honey.

IMG_7215

I added about 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder, dried prunes, and chopped up almonds for a chocolate-banana feel and a little crunch.

IMG_7216

This is my oatmeal in the refrigerator, working its magic.

IMG_7217

All toppings added and mixed, ready to heat!

IMG_7218

Step 5: Just pop your bowl in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, or an oven set to 350 for 8-10 minutes, and enjoy!

 

Since I’ve tried every nut, fruit, and spice I could get my hands on, my favorite combo so far is:

  • 1/3 c oats
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 4-5 dried prunes
  • 4-5 dried dates
  • 1 tbsp golden raisins
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon

The dates have such a unique flavor, and the combination of dried fruits lends such a sweetness to the finished product. The almond butter gives it a nice burst of flavor too. I cut back on chia and got rid of the flax, because the original recipe was a little too… chewy for my taste. After all, people use flax or chia and water as an egg substitute, so they do make a bit of a gel-like texture.

Your ideal bowl may be something different, mix it up depending on your tastes, what you have available, and any allergies/sensitivities. But this is a quick, super easy, and economical way to start any day off right!