Breakfast on a budget
Caitriona Redmond suggests money-saving breakfast and elevenses ideas...
Breakfast is a perfect example of how we face opportunities to spend money on our way to work, college or school.
Grabbing a coffee, breakfast or even a mid-morning snack puts pressure on your purse. But with a little forward planning, you can eat well in the morning, while saving yourself a few euro. These blueberry muffins cost 29 cents each to make. They can be baked in advance, wrapped when cool and frozen. A swift 30 seconds in the microwave in the morning will defrost your muffin and have it as fresh as the day it was baked. You can store them for up to three months.
If breakfast bars every day sounds a bit dull, why not crumble the bars into some greek yoghurt with fresh fruit? You'd pay at least €3 for a fancy granola yoghurt pot on the go but making your own will cost you less than 75c.
Trying to ditch the sugar? Here's a homemade sugar-free bar that contains fruit and seeds. Even better, they cost just 19c each to make.
Elsewhere, an Americano will set you back between €2.20 and €3.20, so buying one every morning on your way to work costs €11-€16 per week.
Why not invest in a percolator and an insulated mug? Add in the cost of some filters and decent coffee and it'll cost you €30 to start. After three weeks you can start to rake in the savings.
There are days when we don't have the time to take a long breakfast. These bars contain all the same ingredients that you will find in a bag of muesli, with the addition of a little butter to make them hold together in the oven.
The ingredient list is in American cup measures because it's not a technical list, more an indication. You can add/subtract ingredients according to your family preferences. One cup is equivalent to about the 250ml point in a measuring jug.
Makes 20 bars, each costing 33c to make
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup hulled pumpkin seeds
½ cup raisins
½ cup dried apricots
½ cup dates, chopped
½ cup flaked almonds
½ cup melted butter
1 cup runny honey
* Pre-heat your fan oven to 190°C. Grease a baking tray and dust it with flour. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix loosely with a wooden spoon.
* Pour in the melted butter and honey and stir until the dry mixture is coated. Press into baking tray. Bake until golden and crispy at the edges, about 25 minutes.
* Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes before scoring the shape of the bars out on the mixture while it is still hot. Wrap each bar in greaseproof paper and they will keep in a sealed container for up to a week.
Low-sugar blueberry muffin
Blueberries are a super fruit to cook and bake with because they keep so well in the freezer and have a balanced amount of water in them, which means that you're not going to end up with a sticky mess.
A good alternative to blueberries are raspberries. And if you would like to use strawberries, you will need to make sure you chop them up into small pieces that are about the same size as a blueberry.
Alternatively, you can also choose to replace the blueberries with two bananas, which should be sliced or chopped up into similar small pieces.
Makes 12, each costing 29c to make
260g plain flour
50g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
50g natural yoghurt
75ml sunflower oil
1 medium egg
Preheat your fan oven to 170°C. Line a cupcake tin/muffin tray with paper cases.
Put the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir to mix them around.
Combine the milk, yoghurt, oil and egg in a big jug and mix them together with a fork until they are combined.
Pour slowly into the dry ingredients and stir until you have a thick batter.
Add in the berries and stir one more time to make sure they are coated in the batter.
Spoon into the muffin cases, taking care not to fill them more than three-quarters full.
Bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until golden on top. Once cooled, these muffins will keep in a sealed container for up to three days.
Sugar-free energy bars
I can't afford to be sucked into the breakfast bar section as they are full of processed sugars. There are some sugars in these bars, but they are natural fruit and honey sugars. Swap the dried fruit according to your tastes.
Makes 10 bars, each costing 19c to make
5 dried prunes, chopped
5 dried apricots, chopped
50g Bournville cocoa powder
100ml hot water
50g sunflower seeds
10g sesame seeds
5 tbsp runny honey
Put all the dried fruit in a large bowl. Take a mug and measure out the cocoa powder. Using a little of the hot water, make the cocoa powder into a smooth paste, then add the rest of the water.
Pour the cocoa water over the dried fruit. Cover and leave to stand for at least an hour, but overnight is best. Line a baking tray with cling film. Toast the sunflower and sesame seeds in a dry pan.
Pour the seeds into the plumped up fruit, add the honey and beat until you have a paste. Smooth the paste into the baking tray. Cover with cling film and chill for two hours before slicing.
The bars keep best in the fridge for up to two weeks.