It's been about 5 years since we left the Metroplex now. We no longer live on the farm, but we still live in a small town and have kept many of the changes that began when we moved to the farm.
One of the biggest changes was in how we eat. For financial reasons we completely gave up cold cereal for breakfast. Recently I tried going back to cold cereal for convenience. It's not very convenient when you have to fix food twice in the morning instead of just once because everyone is hungry again. A person feels more satisfied after eating if they have eaten foods that are full of nutrients. I remember as a kid reading on the box that my cereal was part of a complete breakfast when eaten with toast, juice and milk. So the only food group missing was meat (this was back in the days of the Basic Four food groups). That always left me wondering why I needed the cereal because it was NOT meat. But anyway, we tried it and I've sat over my cereal each morning looking forward to the day when I don't have so many kids at home so I can find the time to have a decent breakfast again. Yesterday I asked myself what that would be. I LOVE yogurt so my answer was yogurt, granola and fruit. Hmm. Why can't I do that now? So yesterday afternoon Claire and I made 2 gallons of yogurt and a huge batch of granola. We put the yogurt into little 8 oz size containers with lids and put them in the fridge. We did this to try to ration it out otherwise it's all gone fast because we eat as much as we want. It was still warm this morning, but we'll begin eating it tomorrow. This should last 4 days and cost a total of $6.50 for the yogurt and I don't know for the granola, but I know it's all working out to be much less than feeding all of us cold cereal. It was all stuff already in our cabinet--oats, nuts, honey and butter for this particular recipe. I expect the granola to last a bit longer, but we'll see. So I just have to spend some time making breakfast ahead of time twice a week. It didn't take very long, maybe an hour, and we would have spent that much time making breakfast each day if we weren't having cereal. But I have to share this picture. This is a four day supply of yogurt for my family. It's times like this when I realize I have a lot of kids.
The kids share my love of yogurt so I will share another "fast food" thing we do. And this one really is fast. No cooking involved and it's for when we are on the road. Five years ago if we were out running errands and it was time to eat, we'd go to a fast food place and grab a burger, fries, and a soda--not healthy and cost about $30 and up for all of us. But when we moved out to the country, the nearest fast food place was too far away to consider it fast. If we were in town running errands, we still didn't want to get fast food because it just wasn't in the budget.
We found cheaper solutions. Frequently we would buy a loaf of bread, package of sliced cheese, package of lunch meat and bottled water if we hadn't planned ahead and brought our own water from home. This was much cheaper, but also much less tasty really. We've now found something even better! We buy each person a container of yogurt. We bought a package of plastic spoons and napkins the first time and these stay in the van now. Then we also buy fruit. Our current favorite is grapes. It's best if you can wash them. We've used a water fountain at a park or a rest area's bathroom sink. For drinks we buy a gallon of drinking water and pour this into our individual water bottles. You could also pour this water over your fruit to wash it. Once we bought juice and paper cups and amazingly no one spilled.
Yogurt and fruit is surprisingly satisfying. It's yummy and filling. We have spent less than $15 and bought plenty of grapes and enough yogurt for 2 each. That was for myself and 8 children ranging in age from 2-16. So one night recently when I planned a dinner that turned out to still not be ready at 7pm, Roger offered to go get something. I suggested yogurt and fruit. He looked at me like I was crazy and said, "I'm really hungry." I told him it was surprisingly satisfying and he said okay. I guess he's learning to trust me after all these years. ;-) So he went and bought a lot of grapes and enough yogurt for everyone to have 2. He agreed. It's much more filling than it sounds.
And there's no Fast Food Guilt to go with it!