January 31, 2011

project grocery: oatmeal time

Last Wednesday night, I made oatmeal. Two mornings worth. I put it in the fridge (in the pot, as it happens, since I forgot about it until bedtime and didn't have the motivation to scrape it into another container), and Thursday and Friday we heated it up and ate it for breakfast.

Let me rewind a bit...

Since I'm sucking it up so much here at Project Grocery, I thought that instead of aiming for a blind kind of "spend less" goal, I'd lower our costs by tackling one section at a time, and for now, it's breakfast.

I'm starting with breakfast because cereal is expensive, and as you know, I'm cheap. The best sale price I can find for a decent sized box of cereal (that we like that doesn't have high fructose corn syrup listed as its first, second and third ingredients) is around three dollars, and we go through two boxes a week. Almost any kind of oatmeal-type hot cereal that will feed us for a week is less than three dollars - and that includes steel cut oats and 12 grain cereal.

Maybe not buying cereal is what kept us under budget this week for a grand three-store total of $103.24 (you heard me).

As you can see, cereal does not appear on the official list and menu...neither does root beer. But you get my drift, I'm sure.

...Which brings us back at make-ahead oatmeal. Like most sane people, we have just about enough time in the morning to pour cereal into a bowl and add milk. But since oatmeal made ahead of time lasts up to a week in the fridge and is indistinguishable from just-made oatmeal, that's all I need time for.

And hopefully I can stave off oatmeal boredom by offering a delectable sampling of toppings: toasted pecans, cinnamon sugar croutons, peanut butter and maple candy. Scratch the maple candy, it'll be all gone by tomorrow.

Apparently everyone else in the world knew this already, because when I told my mom about it (Hi Mom!), she was neither surprised nor impressed by my ingenuity. She apologized that she hadn't told me about it earlier.

One of those essential homemaker secrets that I'm finally old enough to know, I guess.