Monday, March 16, 2009

Make your own delicious cereal & Marketing tactics today

Has anyone been paying attention to the price of cereal lately? It's outrageous! I don't normally buy the name brand cereal because I find I can get the store brand for half as much (and it tastes exactly the same). However, even store brands have gone up, so I've been thinking of ways to make my cereal dollar stretch while still getting the delicious cereals my family likes.

The kids aren't really picky, thank goodness. They will eat plain cereals like crispy rice or corn flakes, but I'm a little more of a cereal snob than that. I like granola, or at least chunks of it in my cereal. I like a few different textures, and a touch of sweetness. I like bits of fruit in my cereal as well, so I often buy cereals with dehydrated strawberries (because, until summer rolls around, fresh strawberries are too expensive and not that great in terms of quality).

So, while we were grocery shopping Saturday, I had an idea. Why not combine some of the cereals I already have to make a cereal that fits what we like?

I have a huge box of corn flakes (which we use to make faux-fried chicken) that has been sitting there for several months, yet to be opened. I also have half a (gigantic) box of Rice Crispies (also from a couple months ago when I made Rice Crispy Treats). I have a box of Just Bunches (as in Honey Bunches of Oats) to satisfy my sweet granola craving. We always have raisins on hand for snacks and bananas (while supplies last... since those go pretty quick in our household). I combined half a box of corn flakes, half a box of Rice Crispies, one or two cups of Just Bunches then shook it up in a big bag before pouring it into our breakfast bowls. Then I added a small handful of raisins to each bowl and cut in slices of banana. The kids LOVED it, and it tastes REALLY good. For about six or seven dollars, I have the equivalent of about six regular sized-boxes of cereal. I could have found a similar cereal on the shelves, and paid the same price for just two boxes of cereal.

You can also find creative ways to change up cereal- like smashing up a couple chocolate chip cookies (or some of those Girl Scout Cookies you just bought) in a small bag and sprinkling it over flakes or crispy rice. Sometimes we have a bunch of cereal boxes with just maybe a cup or so of cereal left in each one. You can find creative ways to combine these, or mix them up with some fruit and yogurt.

That's another thing. Granola isn't the only cereal you can serve over yogurt. Kids will like toasted oats (Cherrios) or crispy rice, and you might too.

Try adding different dried fruits (apples, pineapples, etc) to cereals, or toss in fresh fruit (strawberries, blueberries, grapes, bananas...).

Mixing or adding stuff to the cereals you already have on hand will help stretch your dollar and liven up a cereal you found boring or bland.

You can even set up a mixing station for your children by setting out several bowls or bags filled with different cereals and mix ins. You could even set out some cupcake sprinkles or a shaker of cinnamon. They'll enjoy making their own cereal.

When I was in second or third grade my Gifted and Talented class did a fun cereal project. We were to create a cereal and design our own cereal box to go along with it. Take cereal box and cover it with paper, then have the children decorate their own cereal box. "Back then" we didn't have these fancy personal computers allowing us to make a more attractive project, but now days, kids can take a picture of the cereal they made, mess around with it on a graphic program (even put in the name of their cereal and tell what's in it), and print it out to post on the cereal box. Older children should try to make it appealing. You could use this as an opportunity to explain how companies and ad agencies use special tactics to lure the costumer into buying their product. Do some research into that. It's very interesting!

For example, companies use celebrity endorsements to promote their product. More and more companies are targeting children because they know parents are apt to give in to their children's desires. Sometimes Merika will beg me to buy a box of cereal because it has the Disney Princesses on it, and Nolyn tries to put a box of Spiderman shaped Mac'n'Cheese in my cart nearly every shopping trip. I joke that they'd try to convince me to buy a box of poop if it had their favorite character on it.

Companies also use product comparison to try to convince you that their product is better and more of a deal or steal than another. Right now, companies are really digging into our sentiments to sell us items. They also try to sell things to us by presenting it to us as a lifestyle
that we desire. Due to the state of our economy, companies realize that people are trying to save money, so they are really using this to their advantage. Credit cards are claiming that they will help us "spend wisely" and "save more". I hate to break it to you, but that's not what credit cards do. However, their strategy is working because people are falling for it.

Target has a few commercials in which they present what we want in a new, cheaper way. The new barber shop? Buy these clippers and cut hair at home! The new commute? Buy this bicycle and bike to work in your nice suit!! The new gym? Buy this yoga ball! The new movie night? DVDs at home, of course! The new family room? A seventy-dollar tent in the backyard! As you can tell, companies are trying to send us the message that we should spend our dollar at their company because they are interested in saving us money.

{Begin mini rant}
In my opinion, the worst of all is Wal-mart (which we boycott for various reasons) who loves to tell us that they are always slashing prices. (That comes with a price! If you have Netflix, watch "The High Cost of Low Prices" or watch this excerpt.) Please, try to frequent your Mom and Pop places. It is worth the extra pennies you'll pay! If you want to support your economy, put your business back into the small companies in your state. {End mini rant}


Nikowa@KHA said...

What a great idea! I think I'll try this! It saves money AND gives the kids something to do :)

Ashley said...

I had just bought 2 boxes of cereal to do just this with the day you posted this blog :) yum!!!