Homemade breakfast muesli: Frugal, too?

A couple days of the week, we eat homemade muesli for breakfast. We eat it even more frequently in the summer, when a hot bowl of oatmeal is less enticing.

Ideally, we use fresh fruit cut up in our muesli like peaches or berries in the summer and apples in the fall. But often we just throw in dried fruit and nuts and call it a day.

I like it because it’s quick to fix and everything in it is healthy. Plus, you can easily change up the flavor for variety. Some things we love:

- Dates, unsweetened coconut and some ground cloves
– Almonds, dried apples, and vanilla
– Cinnamon raisin with walnuts

People often ask me about it, and although I could speak for the health and convenience, I couldn’t speak for the cost. Maybe you are getting a bargain shopping in the cereal aisle? I decided to check it out so one morning I made a typical batch of muesli, but weighed things as I went.

When it comes to cost, a per calorie price seems like a much better measure than per “serving” or per cup because those things vary so much from food to food and person to person.

So although I don’t normally follow any type of recipe when I throw our morning muesli together and although I never count calories… I did it this time. :)

Here’s what this particular morning told me:

10.7 oz cereal (I usually use a rolled 5 grain blend that I buy in bulk, but you can use oats instead, they just get softer faster $.64/lb) = $.428 for 1027 calories

1.3 oz raisins ($1.65/lb) = $.134 for 109 calories

.8 oz date crumbles ($1.98/lb) = $.10 for 62 calories

1.2 oz walnuts ($5.66/lb) = $.424 for 220 calories

17 g flaxseed ($.90/lb) = $.034 for 91 calories

Grand total = $1.12 for 1,509 calories

It looks like if you’re buying boxed cereal, Kellogg’s Smart Start has 1,885 calories per 17.6 oz box (Cheerios has 1800 per box). So if you’re paying $1.40 per box then you’re matching what I spent on this particular bowl of muesli, per calorie.

Now, I’m sure dumping blueberries and sliced strawberries in there with abandon like we do in the summer time certainly raises our price point, but I recommend dumping them in the cereal you buy in a box as well. They’re tasty and excellent for your health. :)

How big of a deal is what you eat for breakfast, really?

Making your own breakfast cereal may save some money, but if you don’t care about the money… is it worth the (relatively minor) hassle of making your own breakfast cereal? Everybody buys boxes of cereal and many boxes say “whole grain” right on the front. Aren’t they healthy enough? A bowl in the morning won’t kill you, right?

Wrong. That train of thought is a dangerous one. A single donut doesn’t kill you, but a habit of eating them will damage your health. You probably won’t notice this when you’re 30 but the things that “just happen” later in life like diabetes, heart disease, obesity, cancer… those things are often determined by our habits and they are often completely preventable. That’s powerful.

In our house, breakfast is a habit and thus a perfect place to make a deliberate choice to protect our health. Although we change up dinners and lunches all the time, our breakfasts are pretty much standard from year to year. So what I choose to feed my family in any given week gets multiplied many, many times over. Plus, we all eat a LOT at breakfast time and we aren’t big on snacks so I focus on fueling everyone with healthy food.

4 Reasons to eat a great breakfast:

It doesn’t have to be muesli but if it’s not, it had better be a fruit & veggie smoothie, a big bowl of oatmeal, or possibly great whole grain bread, pancakes or muffins.

1) It will last you until lunch. I mentioned previously my gripes with “weight control” oatmeal sold in 170 calorie packets, laden with sugar and artificial ingredients. If you’re eating healthy food you can eat enough to get FULL. Hooray!

(If you are actively trying to lose weight, you’ll definitely want to focus on fruit & vegetables and be reasonable about your grains and nuts but you are going to eat a much more satisfying portion of food and still be losing weight.)

2) A good breakfast is full of plant foods and therefore has FIBER. Almost everything I eat in a regular day has fiber. Constipation is the most common digestive complaint in the United States and no one in my family has ever had a single problem with this. 60+ million North Americans suffer from something that is usually completely unnecessary. I can think of something better than constipation medication for us to spend 235 million dollars on each year, how about you?

3) It’s one thing to eat and enjoy sugar in, say, a warm homemade chocolate chip cookie that you savor while curled up with a good book. But to have it hidden unappreciated and unnecessary in my breakfast day after day after day? That’s just silly.

4) Hidden sugar trains your tastebuds to seek more sugar. It is the reason that pizza now has a crazy amount of sugar in the crust and the sauce. It’s the reason why vegetables may taste gross to you. Eating real food for breakfast gives your tastebuds a fighting chance at appreciating other real food later in the day.

5) I don’t know about you but I’ve never left an IHOP and felt like hopping. A good breakfast sets you up to have an active day in a way that sausage or fake cereal just can’t.

So… What do YOU eat for breakfast? :)

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About beanland

Scott is a family practice doctor and Anne is a full-time mother and teacher to two beautiful girls and one boy.
This entry was posted in Healthy Eating. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Homemade breakfast muesli: Frugal, too?

  1. Shannon says:

    It sounds like for your cold cereal you just use the 5 grain rolled cereal as is out of the bulk bin. No toasting etc first, correct?

  2. Teresa Styers says:

    Hi guys, I am wondering about that dish that Scott brought into RFPC back in 2011 for Thanksgiving lunch. I had sweet potatoes and raisin and other amazing things in it. Can I get the recipe.

  3. Where do you get your five grain cereal from? And how long do you soak your muesli before you eat it?

    • beanland says:

      Alyssa,

      I’ve bought my rolled grain blend from Something Better Natural Foods (online), Azure Standard (online), Honeyville Grain (online), and now I buy it at Winco (grocery store chain out here). I basically just go for the best price, but I do prefer blends that include something other than oats and wheat since I already get a lot of those in my diet. I often don’t soak it at all, and sometimes I’ll just soak the fruit. Honestly it just depends on your preference and whether you’re a planner or not. :)

      On Mon, Apr 7, 2014 at 6:49 PM, Adventures in Beanland wrote:

      >

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