This one will have to be short, but I did want to mention it.
I came from a family that ate cold cereals for breakfast. We were never allowed "sugar cereals" such as the obvious Froot Loops and Cap'n Crunch (not that we didn't try asking!) The selection was either Cheerios, bran flakes, or Wheat Chex, or something along those lines, with lowfat milk.
These days, I still occasionally crave a crunchy bowl of Wheat Chex, but cereal buying is one small area I've changed completely from my former practices. In the past couple years, I've been carefully reading labels due in part to blood sugar issues and also in wanting to be aware of what foods have preservatives and high fructose corn syrup.
It was an eyeopener that a lot of cold cereals touted as "healthy" have a lot of sugar in them...a lot.
The other concern is what we get for our money....Packaging, and very little else. If you lift the inner bag from the eye-catching cereal box, you basically get a small amount of actual cereal slumped forlornly in the lower half of the bag, and if you read the "serving size" it may vary from 1/2 cup portion to maybe 1 cup portion size. And though we all need to watch our portion sizes, you just don't get a LOT of cereal usually for the money spent.
I seldom see any cereal on the shelf in a family-sized box for less than 4 or 5 dollars. For a single grocery item, in our house, that's off my chart...and I'm feeling cheaper by the minute! I see a lot of young families cruising the cereal aisle ( and it's an entire aisle, yes) at the store and the children being asked what they want for the breakfast cereal.
Well, I'll cut to the chase. Except for the rare occasion, we just don't buy cold cereals any more. We either eat hot cereals or we make our own granola, or granola spin-off. We also just don't buy dairy much any more, either.
We use regular oatmeal...any kind that's on sale without any fillers and preservatives, for a lot of things. Instead of those little flavored packets that have nothing but a few tablespoons of oatmeal and a lot of artificial flavorings, we just make a quick bowl of real oatmeal and stir in real spices, sweetners, nuts, fruits, whatever suits. For days when we do want cold cereal with milk (those days are fewer and farther between), oatmeal is the base ingredient in granola I've made and kept in jars...and can be as simple as just the oatmeal and dried fruit or as complex as multiple grains/nuts/sweeteners/fruits/spices. There are limitless easy granola recipes online, and they are fast and easy.
Oatmeal is one of the ingredients it usually does pay to purchase in the generic label or in larger quantities if you eat cereal a lot. I have yet to do a comparison ounce to ounce with cold cereals cost-wise, but I KNOW it comes out to pennies for a serving of oatmeal, and a WHOLE lot more for boxed cold cereal.
There are plenty of other seed and grain options out there besides oatmeal too, especially for hot cooked cereals.
A sprinkling of dried cranberries or a drizzle of real maple syrup is so much more satisfying and healthy a flavoring than chemical flavor counterfeits that come in boxed cereals. I make up individual portion packets of oatmeal and dried fruits, with a pinch of brown sugar and cinnamon, for Jack to take to work for a warm cereal on those cold night shifts. Just open a sandwish bag, add boiling water, stir for a few seconds and let it soften about a minute...a better tasting hot oatmeal than any flavor packet. Add a handful of chopped nuts for added protein for those who like some crunch.
Anyway, avoiding the cold cereal aisle has trimmed our budget dramatically, but we don't have to go without REAL cereal...a few simply steps take hardly any additional preparation time, and are really worth the money saved.
Plus..there are a lot of other foods to have for breakfast...!