As a kid, I ate my fair share of Boo Berry and Smurf-Berry Crunch. I was the type who saved all her Lucky Charms marshmallows until the very end of the bowl and then slurped down the blue- and pink-tinged milk.
But when I had my own kids, I struggled with what to do about cereal. When I took my boys grocery shopping with me, the boxes of Cookie Crisp and Trix beckoned them from the shelves. When Sam was a toddler, he went so far as to grab a box, run down the aisle away from me, and chew a hole right through the cardboard. Mortified, I put the box back on the shelf and high-tailed it out of the cereal aisle. Not one of my finer moments.
I wasn’t willing to buy those cereals. So I compromised, choosing ones that were sweet but didn’t have dyes, like Frosted Mini-Wheats. But the amount of added sugar in those brands bothered me too. So I stopped buying them. And I gave myself over to the role I was born to play: Boring Cereal Mom. You know her. Nobody wants to have a sleepover at Boring Cereal Mom’s house, right?
Surprisingly, my kids are actually okay with these cereals. I’m shocked that Sam (our resident sugar fiend) will eat plain shredded wheat. Yes, I add sugar. But I add very little of it–between one-quarter and one-half teaspoon per bowlful. That adds just 1-2 grams of sugar. It’s enough to make some bites sweet. It’s not enough to make every bite sweet. I also think part of it is psychological: When they see their dietitian-mom sprinkling sugar onto their food, my children act like they’ve won the lottery.
These are five cereals in heavy rotation at our house right now. These also tend to fit into my grocery budget (I try not to buy a box for more than $3, so I shop sales and buy store brands when possible).
Original Shredded Wheat
Made from 100% whole grain wheat with 7 grams of fiber per serving. It’s unsweetened, so you can add a little sprinkling of sugar or drizzle of honey if you want. I buy the Aldi brand.
Made with whole grain oats, Cheerios have just a single gram of sugar per cup (the “original” kind, not the flavored varieties). I like mine with a small handful of walnuts or slivered almonds on top for more staying power. And have you heard that original Cheerios are now GMO-free?
Barbara’s Brown Rice Crisps
The same snap-crackle-and-pop entertainment of Rice Krispies but made with whole grain brown rice instead. These have just 1 gram of sugar (instead of 4 in regular Rice Krispies) and are organic.
Barbara’s Original Puffins
This counts as a “fun” cereal around here. These lightly sweetened puffs have just 5 grams of sugar per bowl (the amount I try to stay at or under when buying cereal these days). They also have a respectable 5 grams of fiber plus some protein. They’re GMO-free as well.
The first ingredient is whole grain corn so they’re a good source of fiber, with just 3 grams of sugar per serving. Plus they’re fortified with nutrients that some kids are lacking, like iron and vitamin D.
What are your family’s favorite cereals?
Disclosure: I am a member of the ALDI Advisory Council. However, I was not compensated for mentioning Aldi in this post. All opinions expressed are my own.