Frugal’s Muesli . $2.78 per pound, or less

Way back in the late ’70’s – maybe early ’80’s – I fell in love with Swiss Muesli, namely, Familia cereal.  It was pricey, and I looked at the ingredients on the box and decided that not only could I make my own for a lot less, but I could customize it to my own tastes and make it even healthier!

Home-made Muesli, this one is Pecan Date
Home-made Muesli, this one is Pecan Date

My tastes have changed over the years, but I still make my Muesli. The biggest change has been a recent one – my brother stressed how important it is to eat almonds, and he has 10 every day.

Prior to that, I had skimped on the nuts, the most expensive ingredient. Now I include the recommended 10 nut serving in every 1/2 cup serving of my Muesli. I’ve measured it out, below, so you don’t have to count. The other change is that I’ve been cutting way back on wheat products, so I usually substitute an extra half cup of barley for the half cup of wheat flakes.

I don’t think you’ll find any Muesli on the market that has this amount of tasty and healthy ingredients, and you’ll find them from an equivalent of $4.99 a pound up to $7.99 a pound, according to my grocery store comparisons. Perhaps even for more at high-end stores and health food stores. You’ll also find they are mostly oatmeal, one of the cheapest, most widely available of the grains. (Note: because Muesli is not normally sold in 1 pound packages, but much smaller packages, its one of those items that may seem less expensive until the price per pound is worked out.)

This Muesli is literally chock full of the most expensive of the ingredients. I priced mine out using a mixed berry option (sorry the photo is of Pecan Date) which is one of the priciest of the dried fruits came up with $2.78 per pound. Please, don’t pay more for the box when Muesli is a snap to mix up.

Best of all, customize your flavor profile: You can use any combination of fruits and nuts. Go tropical, go wild – put in whatever you like in whatever combination. Do use some restraint – dried fruits are very concentrated calories, and it is good to know that the almond is considered the powerhouse of the nuts, while walnuts are best avoided.

Given that, what flavors would you choose? Blueberry Pecan? Mango Macademia? or would you go for a mixture? Triple Berry Almond? A tropical blend? No longer are you limited to what a manufacturer decides is the easiest to sell…As a matter of fact, you can toast all the grains and divide them in half or thirds and flavor each how you’d like.

Because the Omega 3 fatty acids in the nuts help deliver nutrients through your body, I like to serve my Muesli with fresh fruit or a green smoothie, even though the Muesli already has a bit of dried fruit to help sweeten it.

Frugal’s Muesli – Fake Familia, makes about 7 cups, each serving is 1/2 cup, or 28 ounces.

  • 2 cups of rolled oats or regular (not instant) oatmeal
  • 1 cup of rolled barley
  • 1 cup of rolled rye
  • 1/2 cup wheat flakes (optional, but replace with barley, rye or oats)
  • 2 tablespoons millet (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons kamut (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons wheat germ (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped almonds, toasted or an equivalent of your favorite or mixture of favorite nuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried fruit
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (optional)
  • Turbinado (organic, raw) sugar, if desired – I find that the toasting of the grains and nuts makes this so sweet I don’t need sugar. The millet and kamut, especially have a sweet flavor and are worth seeking out if one wishes to avoid sugar but still appreciates a bit of a sweet taste.

Put all grains on a large rimmed baking sheet and toast in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, stirring every 10. Let cool. This helps to bring out the sweeter flavors of the grains and rid them of any “raw” taste. Do not brown.

Chop nuts and toast them in a dry, heavy skillet for several minutes. Once they begin to smell, they are sufficiently toasted. Remove and let cool as they will continue to cook and perhaps burn if left in the pan. The nuts may be chopped in a food processor.

Chop dried fruit of your choice and measure. Dried fruit can be quite sticky: a thin knife helps, and a touch of spray oil will help prevent sticking.

Combine all ingredients and store in airtight container, in fridge or freezer is best.  Stir before using as it will settle.

Note:  If you can’t find Kamut or Millet, omit – but they have a very sweet flavor that helps you get by with no sugar in this cereal.

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
  • Follow my Strategies – You’ll see them all explained on the upper left tab of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Read below for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.

Strategies Applied

  • It may be hard to find or more expensive to buy these ingredients in a regular grocery – for me, it’s worth while to go to the “health food” store, my local coop for some. I’m a member, so my pricing is a little lower. Bring your measuring cup if you want – and think about getting enough of the grains to make several batches – just keep it in your freezer. Buy the oats and fruit at the grocery store for the best pricing.
  • Oats:  I used Quaker, 44 ounces on sale for $1.99 (the Aldi’s brand is even less.)  2 cups is 6 1/2 ounces, so the price is 29 cents. I can find virtually no difference in Oats bought from the health food store and Quaker in side by side comparison. Aldis tend to be a bit more broken down. Oatmeal does, especially in the fall, have coupons from time to time that coincide with sales.
  • Barley:  Priced out at $1.79 a pound, a cup is 3 1/2 ounces so the cost is 40 cents.
  • Rye:  89 cents a pound, one cup is four ounces, so the cost is 22 cents.
  • Wheat Flakes:  $1.69 a pound, 1/2 cup is an ounce:  cost 5 cents.
  • Kamut & Millet:  2 tablespoons of each are going to run you about 13 cents.
  • Almonds:  It’s really worth while to look at alternatives to your grocery – I often buy at Aldi’s or our Mill’s Fleet Farm – which is a farm supply store with all sorts of products – everything from saddles to outdoor furniture. If you have a “nut supply” house in your area, their prices can’t be beat. I also stock up around Christmas and freeze my nuts.  I pay about $4.99 a pound so the cost for 1 1/2 cups (8 ounces) is $2.40.
  • Dried Fruit:  Again, I stock up during Christmas – and use coupons. If the bag is flimsy, repackage. Dried fruit keeps, literally, indefinitely, although you might find it becoming almost hard. Use the same trick as for brown sugar – keep it overnight, sealed in a bag with a piece of bread. Your pricing will vary according to what you use, but for what I’m making today, I’m using mixed berries, one of the pricier options. I paid $2.99 for a five ounce package – 1/2 cup is 2.5 ounces so the cost is $1.50.

Put Your own Spin on It:

  • Serve this like oatmeal – heat it in the microwave or on the stove.
  • Try soaking it overnight in milk or eating it just like cold cereal.
  • Sprinkle over yogurt or in yogurt parfaits.
  • Add in whatever other ingredients suit your fancy:  other nuts, pecans are wonderful, pumpkin seeds, etc.  Flavor it with cinnamon or other spices if you’d like.

Frugal’s Muesli made April 2012

Comments and discussion always welcome - tell me what you think.

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