Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Making cereal - it's cheaper and easier than you think!

Making Boogie's cereal seemed like a chore when I first learned it was even possible.  Perhaps I was being naive, but I never realized that I could give him cereal that didn't come in a box from the supermarket.  When I first read about it somewhere on the internet, I was kind of blown away.  Did people really do that?

Besides, baby cereal is cheap...right?

Turns out it isn't.  I wish I could give you a true cost comparison but I haven't taken notes recently and all I know for sure is that on a week-long trip to NJ recently, I spent about $1 on whole grains - oats, millet, and rice - from the bulk bins at my friend's favorite supermarket.  All were organic and the grains lasted for the week without any left to spare and without leaving us underfed :)

The same amount of commercial cereal (a one week supply) would have cost about $3.99 because we prefer Happy Baby HappyBellies organic cereal, but I could have gone with Earth's Best for about $2.79.  And he would have taken care of most of the package.  So even if you assume that he would have eaten about half the Happy Baby cereal, that's still $2, or twice the cost.

I bought a giant bag of Organic Quinoa recently for $8.99 at Costco. That works out to $2.25 per pound, which is less than what the bulk bin cost is at Whole Foods here.

A word of caution -   If you batch grind your grains, you will need to measure differently.  They will fluff up after grinding and you may need 1 1/2 x as much for a batch of cereal than if you measure, then grind, every couple of days.  This isn't really a problem, though.  You just measure it, grind it, and then measure it again to see how much to use later.  Just store any pre-ground grains in the fridge in an air-tight container.

Here is 1/3 cup of Quinoa before grinding.

...and here is the same Quinoa, after grinding.  It's hard to see but its about 1 1/2 x as much.  My little red bowl has a marking inside for 1/4 cup, and the full bowl is 1/2 cup.  I should probably have levelled the contents for the picture, but I didn't think about it.

Here's my 1/4 cup of Quinoa, again, before grinding.  Maybe this is too many pictures but it also illustrates how it grows after grinding.  I use a simple Krups grinder - it is reserved ONLY for grinding baby food and things baby can eat, like flax seeds, so that I don't have to be super picky about cleaning it since it can't be submerged in water.

See how big it gets?  Okay, you get the idea.  Let's move on.  Before you grind, measure out 2 cups of water and put it in a small pot on the stove to boil.  If baby is only easting a few tablespoons of food a day, you can half this and you'll want to use less cereal to water.

When it comes to a boil and your grains are ground into a nice fine powder (look for a flour-like consistancy), whisk them in.  This is important because if you don't use a whisk, you'll have undercooked lumps floating around in watery mess and your baby will look at you like you are a martian if you try to feed it to him.  Also, undercooked grains are not good for baby!  Set the timer for 10 minutes, and whisk every couple of minues until it's done.  ALWAYS taste it to make sure it is cooked well.

Measure the first time and then guess the next.  I have 6oz bowls and this is what 1/2 cup of cereal looks like in them.  I pour the first three, then put the rest in a bowl with two cubes of fruit (if its breakfast) or veggie (dinner) to help it cool down easier.  Some people believe it should go directly into the fridge.  I let it cool for about 5 minutes before sealing the lids and sticking it into the cold.

Here's Boogie's breakfast.  Once the apples melted and the cereal was nice and cool, I added a dash of cinnamon because Boogie loves cinnamon!

Yup, he's an eater.

Down the hatch!

All gone!

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  1. I actually did something similar with Lydia last night. I was experimenting with an "oatmeal cookie" type recipe. So, batch one, I pureed oatmeal from the Whole Foods bulk bin, piece of a banana, apple juice, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and some raisins i soaked in the apple juice. The first batch came out too firm/dry because I heated it for too long, so i molded it into cookies and fed it to my dogs! lol. The second batch came out much better and Lydia seemed to really like it.

  2. That sounds great! Did you chop up the raisins at all? Not sure Boogie could handle them. I assume Lydia isn't eating eggs yet. I've been thinking about making some cookies for him but I'm working on perfecting a carrot cake for his first birthday right now :)

  3. Love the pictures

    tagging you back


  4. Jennifer - The whole mix got pureed together. It was still a bit lumpy, but the raisins were all pureed. Just trying something different ;-) it smelled yummy (and my husband tried a bit and said that it was good).

  5. @ Huppie Mama - okay, I so misunderstood. I thought you were making cookie dough and baking it. Sounded like a teething cookie kind of thing.

    I'm still going to try to make some oatmeal cookies along similar lines :)