Cereal Is Too Expensive- Make Your Own!
I have complained here on my blog about how expensive cereal is compared with the cost of the ingredients of cereal. If you do the calculations, cereal has an incredible mark-up. I didn't think there was much I could do about this, other than choose the most cost effective brands of cereal available.
Then one day, I noticed that my son was making his own cereal, and it is much healthier than the expensive cereal you can buy at the store.
The alternative cereal trend at my house started when my son discovered that some caramel corn that we bought on clearance at the grocery store made great cereal. Just pour some in a bowl and add milk. It tastes like Corn Pops, only a little fluffier.
Of course, it is really cheap and easy to make fresh popcorn at home. We decided to skip the caramel part and just put some popcorn in a bowl with milk. If you like, you can put some sugar on top to make it taste more like store-bought cereal.
Photo credit: Heather Lion (CC-SA-30)
Popcorn RevisitedThe popcorn we are using for cereal is not like movie theater popcorn. We are skipping the salt and butter. Fresh popcorn has a nice flavor even if you don't add anything to it. We use a little bit of Crisco vegetable oil (it's soy bean oil) for popping. Peanut oil would also work well.
Fortunately I have my own movie theater popcorn machine that we got as a family Christmas gift one year for about $150. We have made movie theater style popcorn with melted butter for movie night for years. If you don't have a popcorn popper like this, you can use an air popper or even pop popcorn in a pan on the stovetop. Using those microwave popcorn bags wouldn't really work for cereal since that stuff is so salty and oily.
It may sound weird to eat popcorn as a meal, but this idea has been around for awhile. According to Alton Brown on his episode of Good Eats about popcorn, native Americans in the southwest popped popcorn by heating up sand with popcorn kernels in it over a fire. The anthropologist on the show thought that the ancient people made a gruel by adding water to the popped corn and mashing it up. Popping the corn allowed the nutrients to be obtained from the hard dense kernels.
Now, fast forward a few thousand years. One of the first ideas for commercial breakfast cereal in the United States was to ship boxes of pre-popped popcorn. However the Kelloggs brothers decided to go with corn flakes instead since they were not confident that pre-popped popcorn would sell very well.
Popcorn is a whole grain with lots of fiber, and is really cheap to make. If you don't add salt and butter to it, it is a healthy snack and even a healthy meal in the form of homemade breakfast cereal. If make your own cereal, you know exactly what artificial colors and chemicals are in it- none!