Justin and I go through phases when it comes to our food expenditures. Sometimes we will buckle down and make our lunches to bring to work, brew big batches of coffee to keep in the fridge to save cash that would otherwise be spent at Starbucks, and put together meal plans at the beginning of the week so that we can buy all of our groceries in advance – that way, we avoid unnecessary trips to the supermarket where we would inevitably walk out with stuff that we don’t really need (like caramels or family size boxes of Lucky Charms. Don’t get me wrong, that stuff is delicious, but our money could probably be spent better elsewhere).
This will last a couple of weeks and then we’ll fall off of the wagon and get into the habit of hitting up ‘bucks in the morning for an iced venti skinny vanilla latte (Justin just loves ’em!) and then swinging by a sandwich spot near work for lunch. It’s definitely easier and that makes it appealing, but when you stop and do the math you realize just how much cold, hard cash is going down the drain.
That’s where we found ourselves earlier this week. We had gotten into the habit of dropping serious dough during the day when we could be putting in a little extra time and effort at home to make meals that are just as good (or better!) than the expensive stuff. We realized that we needed to get out of that rut if we were going to keep Brody in the latest fashions.
For starters, Justin whipped up a big batch of chili. We ate it for dinner on Monday and we’ve been putting it in Tupperware containers to bring to work. Chili also freezes and reheats really well so it makes for a great last-minute meal down the road.
Next up: coffee. I love iced coffee and I have found that brewing a pot of stronger-than-usual coffee and then storing it in the fridge works really well as a morning latte substitute. Brewing the coffee extra strong keeps it from getting watered down once you add ice, which is a pet peeve of mine.
Last on the list is figuring out what to eat for breakfast. I usually eat breakfast at work since I would rather spend any extra time in the morning sleeping versus eating a leisurely meal in the kitchen, so whatever I come up with has to be portable. That’s where homemade granola comes in. I posted a recipe awhile back for a healthy homemade granola that works great in yogurt or as a snack (recipe can be found here); it’s a favorite around here so I decided to whip up a batch and bring some with me to work.
I’ve pretty much stuck to the same recipe whenever I have made granola in the past so I wanted to switch it up this time around. I had strawberry, black cherry and raspberry yogurt in the fridge so I was thinking of different combinations that would work with all of those.
It didn’t take long to decide on chocolate.
Chocolate honey nut granola? Don’t mind if I do!
This recipe is pretty similar to the original granola recipe that I posted. The beauty of homemade granola is that you can make it as simple or as fancy as you want. Dried fruits? Sure! 7 different kinds of nuts? Why not? Plain old oats and honey? Sounds great! It’s pretty much going to taste amazing no matter what you add.
This granola came out really good. I used unsweetened cocoa powder, so it’s not too sugary but the sweetness of the honey, the subtle harshness of the cocoa powder and the saltiness of the sunflower seeds go really nicely together.
Feeling wild? After it comes out of the oven, toss some chocolate chips in there. And in your gullet.
The best part? Completely portable!
This little guy is coming to work with me.
I made this on Tuesday and I tried it on Wednesday with strawberry Greek yogurt. Delightful. And then I successfully spoiled my appetite when I got home by eating a bunch of it before dinner. You know, like an adult.
Chocolate Honey Nut Granola
Makes: about 10 servings / Prep time: 10 minutes / Cook time: 30-40 minutes
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup ground flax seed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with a non-stick cooking or baking spray. In a large bowl combine the oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, flax seed and salt. In a separate bowl combine the brown sugar, vegetable oil, honey, vanilla and cocoa powder and mix until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the wet ingredients over the oat mixture and mix until combined, breaking up any clumps that form. Spread the mixture out in an even layer on the cookie sheet. Cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color. Allow to cool completely, add the chocolate chips and store in an airtight container.