Finding Convenience in the Good Ol’ Cereal Box

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Early morning breakfasts can be a harried affair. And if one child — or three — keeps me awake during the night, the last thing I want to do is cook up a big breakfast. In fact, in my newfound resolve to make daily mealtimes a little easier, FishPapa and I have decided that boxed cereal and instant oatmeal are a good fit for this season of life. Our kids love it; they can serve themselves; and if I play my cards right, I can get several boxes for just a few bucks when I combine sales and coupons.

And when I’m super “withit” (which doesn’t happen super often), I set out all we need for breakfast the night before. Bowls, spoons, cups. It really helps to fill the baby’s sippy cup the night before and stash it in the frig.

Oh, yes, I’m taking “make-ahead” meals to a whole new level!

Though my kids would love it for me to serve them Sugar-Coated Candy Bombs each morning, that ain’t happening. Thankfully, Cheerios is pretty much the family fave around here — and has been since I was a wee babe. The fact that it can help our family’s heart health is an added plus.

I try not to buy cereal that is extra sweetened — even if it’s free with the coupons — cause I know that I will pay for it in hyper kids and extra dental work. So I was particularly pleased when General Mills recently announced that they were committed to reducing the amount of sugar in children’s cereals. Amen!

According to General Mills:

  • Ready-to-eat cereal eaters consume less fat, less cholesterol and more fiber than non-cereal eaters.
  • Cereals also deliver important vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients, making cereal a top source of key nutrients in children’s diets.
  • Ready-to-eat cereals, including presweetened cereals, account for only 5% of sugar in children’s diets.
  • Ready-to-eat cereal is the No. 1 source of whole grains in a child’s diet today.
  • More frequent cereal eaters tend to have healthier body weights and lower Body Mass Index measures.

Sounds good to me!

And when combined with coupons, I can regularly buy boxed cereal for as low as $.50 a box! Currently the deals aren’t as sweet, but they’re still good. In fact, Albertsons and Vons both have GM cereals on sale for $1.99 while Ralphs has the family size boxes for $2.99. Couple those with these coupons for Big G cereals and you could get several boxes of breakfast convenience for as low as $1.25 a box. You can also sign up with Cheerios to receive 4 $1 coupons in the coming weeks. And Multigrain Cheerios will send you 5 $1 coupons!

How do you handle the early morning breakfast rush?

Disclosure: This information and 4 free cereal coupons were provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark. I was not compensated or required to share this information with you. My opinions are my own.

About Jessica Fisher

I believe you can get great meals on the table -- and still keep that pretty smile on your face.

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  1. Love the cheap boxed cereal too for the rushed breakfast routine. 🙂

    Something else that I do for the breakfast routine is have a set breakfast meal plan. Right now my weekly plan looks something like this:
    Sunday-scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, meat, and quick bread like muffins or biscuits or donuts.
    Monday-cereal(boxed or instant oatmeal) and whatever the leftover bread was from Sunday.
    Tuesday-waffles and sausage.
    Wednesday-bagels or muffins and cereal(boxed or instant oatmeal)
    Thursday-Pancakes or French Toast, eggs, and sausage. (If I am really on top of it the pancakes or french toast will be in the freezer so it is just a quick heat up.)
    Friday-cereal(boxed or instant oatmeal) and toaster strudel or toast or muffins.
    Saturday–I let the kids choose based on what is left from the week. This way I don’t have to get up early to fix something. 🙂

    I know that if I only offered my kids boxed cereal they would eat the whole box in one setting so I make sure to have yogurt or fresh fruit available to go along with each breakfast so they are just not filling up on cereal.

  2. Hey, even us old folks who don’t have kids love cereal and milk in the morning. The grandbabies love it out of the box, and Cheerios always is a hit.
    I also have those same cute plastic cups and small bowls…how fun are they?

  3. It wasn’t until I started reading blogs on frugal living/cooking back in 2005 that it dawned on me that people ate things like pancakes, waffles, toaster puff pastries, baked oatmeal, bacon, sausage, eggs, etc on days other than Saturday and Sunday. Talk about being shocked!!

    We grew up (myself and my brother) eating cold cereal, or a hot cereal (Cream of Wheat, oatmeal, etc) every day. Mom worked full time, Dad ran his own business out of the house, and we attended public school. There was just no time for fancy Saturday/Sunday breakfast during the week. And even Sunday, we didn’t have big breakfasts except for the school breaks and summer when we didn’t have to go to CCD on Sunday before 10:30 Mass. (Which was fine with me…I’m all about the hot ham and rolls that Wisconsin loves so much for lunch on Sunday!). Saturday was really the “big eating” day.

    So for me, it’s always kind of weird, in a good way, when I see “breakfast menus” – more power to ya, Dude! But I’m with you Jessica…cold or hot cereal with some fruit and yogurt is the way to go in our house (and I only have 2 kidlets under the age of 3!!). Big fancy breakfasts are either reserved for the weekend, or for “binner”.

    And anyway…the 2 year old doesn’t like eggs. Or sausage. But he’d turn into a blueberry waffle with a side of bacon if I let him… 😉

  4. We do the cereal thing since we can get it pretty cheap. I try not to spend more than $1 for a box of cereal. (Did you get your VocalPoint coupon for Kashi? Mine came today with a coupon enclosed for a FREE box!!!) I try to put the milk cup in the fridge the night before too but I forget most nights (it’s the thought that counts right?) I did make up some french toast sticks for the kids on OAMC day and they love them. I used the whole wheat bread and pumpkin puree. They turned out lovely.

  5. If you have a rice cooker you can use it for oatmeal. It takes some experimenting to get the right oatmeal to water ratio (I use the 2:3 formula for thick rolled oats) but it’s a huge time saver because you can set it up the night before with the timer. The only caveat is it takes much longer than cooking oatmeal on the stove so using the timer is essential for me.

  6. This is entirely irrelevant, but I have the same cups as you in this picture. 🙂

  7. Thanks for the coupon link. My husband eats Cheerios for breakfast most mornings.

  8. I make my own oatmeal packets using the measurements/plan/cost analysis from
    We eat oatmeal every Monday as a time saving/mommy sanity saving plan. Making my own packets ensures we get it just the way we like it 🙂

  9. We eat boxed cereal when in a rush. Waffles and eggs are our standard breakfast so we also cook up an extra batch of waffles once a week to reheat for hurried mornings. This is easier than cereal for our children since they still make a huge mess feeding themselves cereal with milk.

  10. I think that you’re a VocalPoint user, right? I did a survey (involving I think 2 multiple choice questions) that they emailed me on Kashi products, and Kashi sent me a coupon for a free box of the “Heart to Heart” line of cereal, as well as a sample. I think the survey is still up, if you’re interested. I didn’t know how my 2 year old would like it, but he really enjoys the Heart to Heart cinnamon oat cereal!

    And, I was able to get 4 boxes of Quaker Instant Oatmeal (including 2 boxes of their new “True Delights” oatmeal!) for 88 cents each this week (at a grocery chain called Meijer that we have here in Indiana). I realize that a Meijer deal doesn’t help you, but I thought it was still a steal worth mentioning!:)

  11. On weekends, my husband gives the kids oatmeal with applesauce. We avoid the instant kind because of all the added sugar. They actually look forward to Daddy’s oatmeal!

    During the week, we rotate between cereal (usually Cheerios or Kix) with milk & bananas, yogurt parfaits (yogurt, cheerios or granola & fruit) or smoothies.

    On mornings when we are REALLY rushed, I put cheerios in a sandwich bag and give them their milks in a sippy cup for the little one and a straw cup for the older one.

    There are mornings where we eat eggs or pancakes, but its rare. I save those for the nights we have Breakfast for Dinner.

  12. Wow, up here in central Canada a small box of cereal comes on sale for $2.99, if we are lucky!! Regular price the family size ones are often close to $10!! Cereal is rarely an economical choice here!!

  13. Jessica, you can make hot cereal in your crock pot, too. My 1977 crock pot recipe book says to rub the crock wall with 1 tablespoon butter or margarine (guess you could use cooking spray). Follow package directions for quantity of water and salt per cup of cereal. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 9 hours. Do not use quick cooking varieties. This works for Oatmeal, Cracked Wheat, Grits, or Cornmeal Mush. Hope that helps!

  14. I serve that for breakfast every morning:-)

  15. If I didn’t have cereal, i didn’t have breakfast. I love cereal!

    But not sugary cereal. And nothing hfcs either!

    Honey Nut Cheerios
    Rice Chex
    Honey Nut Chex
    Grape Nuts


  16. I will admit…..I am a big cereal mom! On my hubby’s days off (Wednesday and Thursday) he will make a “real” breakfast more times than not (unless we had a sleepless night with the baby or need to run out early). He will make pancakes, french toast, eggs, things like that. On Monday, Tuesday and Friday I find it easier for the kids to have cereal. Saturday and Sunday is a toss up.

    I have, in the past, spent the weekend making some foods for the freezer like banana bread and muffins. I also try to double the pancakes to freeze the extras. Thanks for keeping it real : )

  17. I have those bowls and plates from IKEA, only we bought them for the kid’s kitchen.

    We love cereal at our house. The kids even ask for it for dinner…and if I have nothing defrosted or ready and can push the menu to the next night, I will occassionally oblige their request.

  18. Jessica Croft says:

    I LOVE cereal, probably because I grew up with it as a breakfast staple as a kid. This may sound weird but my mom used to make amazing homemade granola and we mixed that with regular boxed cereals. I still eat cereal like that today! The granola fills me up better than cereal alone and it helps make the boxed cereal last longer.

  19. I’m not much of a cereal gal — I find it doesn’t really fill us up. Breakfast is the ONE meal I can actually get my kids to eat well (because they are STARVING) so I go all out. I generally make a big batch of something on Sunday (pancakes, waffles, baked oatmeal, breakfast casserole, etc) and make sure to have enough for at least 2-3 days. The toaster oven is my BFF on weekdays! I always add meat (bacon, ham or homemade sausage) for some protein and to fill tummies. I will cook extra bacon on the weekend and just warm it up on the stove during the week (takes less time). Everyone gets a banana and some other random fruit as well. Now if only I could figure out how to get broccoli in there…

    And I have those IKEA dishes, too! Only mine are older so I like your colors better!

  20. In case you are interested, I just made my own instant oatmeal. The recipe makes at least 24 servings, I’m thinking. I think I found it in an All You magazine. The only ingredient I had to buy, not found in my pantry, was powdered milk. If you would like the recipe, I can email it to you.

  21. I love the go-to cereals as well! I also get the poptarts with NO icing for really rushed mornings and only if I can get a great deal! I usually make a bigger breakfast on Saturdays and try to make extra muffins or pancakes and waffles to store in the freezer for the rest of the week as well as boil a half dozen eggs to take too. My husband works nights, so he doesn’t eat breakfast, and I usually take a bagel or cereal with me to work, so its just our 4 year old eating at home before preschool. He will eat mostly anything, so I try to use what is on hand and pair it with some fruit or egg and he’s good to go!

  22. We follow WAPF, so we are looking for high-fat, grain-free options. I make bacon and eggs and slice up an apple most mornings. It really doesn’t take any time to fry up some bacon and then the eggs in the bacon grease — and yummy! Before we were on this diet, I used to make a few dozen waffles at once and freeze them, then toast them for quick breakfasts. Fruit has always been a favorite, and smoothies. Try the waffles if you want, since you do OAMC anyway. I think they’re better toasted than fresh!

  23. finally!!!someone else that feeds their kids cereal!!!all the frugal blogs i read say it is a big no no.but with seven kids and a night job that doesnt get me home until 3 am i just dont have it in me to whipup eggs or pancakes every day(although hubby and i do on days off)combining coupons with sales often get me a really cheap deal. i (mostly) stick to the healthy ones, although a box or two of lucky charms have made their way into my house. setting out bowls, spoons etc are key!!thanks again!

  24. I make the simple dollar oatmeal packets, too! They’re great. And I started making them for coworkers who want instant oatmeal but don’t want the stuff in the box – and they pay me for them!

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