Friday, February 24, 2012

Out-Frugaling Myself!

My number one rule for frugal work eating is: Oatmeal.  Even the most organized person will forget to pack his or her lunch from time to time, and having a constant stash of instant oatmeal at work can be a huge money saver.  Sure, it's not the sexiest lunch, but it costs about $.20 per package for the store brand, $.25 per package for the name brand.  Compare that with going out to get a sandwich, which probably means getting a drink as well, and you're saving almost $5.  Plus, oatmeal is filling and good for you.  If you don't like oatmeal, I bet you can come up with some other thing to stash at work for those forgetful days.

Since starting new job, I haven't been taking my own advice at all.  I haven't gone out to lunch, except my first day when I used a giftcard I got for my birthday, but I also don't have my oatmeal stash--thankfully, I haven't forgotten my lunch...yet.  I was making a grocery list the other day, and I realized that while I may not have the packets of oatmeal I usually bring to work, I do have the ingredients to make my own, for potentially greater savings!

Ingredient #1 Quaker Old Fashioned Oats!  My using these oats in this way is also a good thing as it takes me forever to go through a whole drum, and though I rarely eat oatmeal at home, I always have some on hand--it's comforting somehow.

Ingredient #2 Those pecans that BF's mother inexplicably gave us for x-mas!  BF's mother has a tendency to gift food that she got a good deal on at the Ocean State Job Lot (weird remaindered store--kind of like Big Lots).  Sometimes it's good, oftentimes it's weird and we wind up giving it to the food bank.  In the case of the pecans, I like them, I think BF may be slightly allergic to them, and we don't really bake so I have no idea what to do with them.  They'll go great in oatmeal.


Since they were whole pecans, I crushed them with a hammer, which was great fun.

Ingredient #3 Chopped Dates, which I frequently have on hand because they're tastey in salads.  I may also pick up some raisins because I love them, and they're cheaper than dates.

Final product!

When I do the math, it's about the same for the make-your-own variety of this as it is for the little packets, but I'm saving on packaging, and I don't have to add another thing to my grocery list.  Plus, given my history with wasted oatmeal and my confusion as to what to do with the pecans, I'm coming out way ahead in the not wasting food area of my life.  Plus, since I'm making my oatmeal myself, I can put in more of the good stuff i.e dates and pecans than if I was using the packet.

I'm pretty stoked.


  1. Plus, most of the packets have weird, fake chemical/sugar ingredients...why have that when making your own is so easy!

  2. That is so true, you save so much money by keeping some emergency food in your office. I sometimes forget to pack my lunch and having oats in my office saves me a lot of money!

  3. Great idea! I read somewhere that if you buzz half the oats in blender for a few seconds to 'powderize' them that you'd get closer consistency to the packet kind (that's why they cook so fast with just hot water added instead of stove-top time).

    You're also much better off adding real fruit and real nuts than having those odd 'strawberry-flavored bits' like the commercial instant packets (not to mention 'dinosaur eggs' and other craziness that the kid-targeted ones have).

    Spices can really add to your bowl of oats, too!

    **Katy M
    Recommending YA books beyond the bestsellers at
    Follow me on Twitter @BooksYALove

  4. @Katy--good idea on the blending! That makes perfect sense!