Why I Broke Up with Commercial Pancake Mix
Pancakes and waffles are pretty much sanctioned versions of cookies and cakes that you just happen to eat for breakfast. Commercial mixes are made with a white carb base, tons of salt and then of course we go topping these guys with refined sugar-filled syrup. For the most important meal of the day?!
So obviously..there's a lot of room for improvement when it comes to serving your kids pancakes and/or waffles.
Whole Grain Carbs for Kids' Breakfast Base
I was never a huge pancakes-and-waffles for breakfast sort of person prior to having kids. But I do value the importance of a good breakfast for my babies, and whole grain carbohydrates are key here...so I gave into the pancake and waffle craze, but here's why.
Kids age 1 and above need the same baseline amount of carbohydrates throughout the day as do adults (130 grams minimum). That means every time you feed your babes, you better be sure you're getting them some quality carbohydrates.
I have 5 kids age 2 and under - so I know as sure as the sun rises, they're going to wake up hungry. Yeah, I need to make them breakfast every day, but I try to be organized about it (...honestly it's just so I can sleep a little more in the morning instead of slaving over a hot stove :)
Right now, our breakfast bread base rotation looks something like this:
- Monday - corn tortilla
- Tuesday - whole grain toast
- Wednesday - whole grain cornbread
- Thursday - whole grain pancakes
- Friday - steel cut oatmeal
- Saturday - whole grain waffles
- Sunday - whatever's left over from the week :)
You'll note there's a pancake day and then a waffle day. That's Miss Molly's request - she loves pancakes and waffles, provided they're topped with ricotta cheese or peanut butter...I usually let her choose.
I also let her help me make pancakes and waffles...basically I'm training her to replace myself in the kitchen :)
Why Commercial Pancake Mixes Don't Cut It
Commercial pancake and waffle mixes are generally too high in sodium for my tastes, and the higher-end/lower-sodium options end up being too expensive for heavy use in our rotation.
To save time and money and also end up with the most nutrient dense option, I make my own whole-grain pancake and waffle mix. I can make 2 weeks' worth at a time and store the mix in the refrigerator. All you then have to do is add egg, milk and mix together for a super fast breakfast that is still whole grain.
I've experimented with a lot of homemade whole grain mix recipes, and the one I think that works and tastes best is a modified version of this King Arthur Flour Homemade Whole-Grain Pancake Mix.
I leave out the salt in that recipe since the baking powder and soda have plenty of sodium for leavening and taste. You end up with a pancake that's about 100 mg sodium per pancake. That's not super low by any means, but it is 45% lower than a typical pancake prepared from a commercial mix.
Commercial mixes are cheap, and this is one of those recipes that actually doesn't save you a ton of money by making at home. I costed out the recipe below at $0.31 per serving (two 6-inch pancakes) and most commercial whole grain mixes are almost exactly that much to prepare as well.
So your primary saving by making at home is going to be slashing sodium. It's a good idea to try to minimize the amount of salt your kids eat at home considering that almost all of the foods that come packaged, processed or prepared outside of your home are going to be laden with added salt.
Whole Grain Pancake & Waffle Mix Recipe
I love this recipe because you can use it for BOTH pancake and waffle mix and it makes a ton ahead of time, enough for about 4 or 5 days worth of breakfast for my crew.
- 4 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 1/2 cups old-fashioned or rolled oats
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 cup vegetable oil
Pancakes or Waffles
- 1 cup homemade mix
- 1 cup buttermilk, or a combination of yogurt or milk
- 1 large egg
- To make the mix, grind the dry ingredients in a food processor until finely chopped but not yet a powder
- Mix vegetable oil in with dry ingredients in a mixer with a paddle or bowl using a spoon.
- Store dry mix in airtight container for up to two weeks at room temperature or indefinitely in the refrigerator or freezer
- To make pancakes: whisk together 1 cup homemade mix, 1 cup buttermilk, 1 egg. Let batter stand for at least 20 minutes before cooking
- Heat a lightly greased griddle and drop batter into 1/8-1/4 cup dollops on hot pan; cook 2-3 minutes per side or until done.
The same mix works great for waffles too. I add more milk and/or yogurt and an extra egg for waffles.
What Kind of Waffle Maker to Use?
After doing a ton of research, I recently bought the Cuisinart WAF-300 Belgian Waffle Maker with Pancake Plates.
- Good price point at $80 - I recently went through two lower quality $50 waffle makers that crapped out quickly, so figured it was time to upgrade
- Love Cuisinart - I am pretty much in love with every Cuisinart appliance in my kitchen, and same goes for the waffle maker
- Pancake plates are legit - I thought this was gimmicky at first, but the pancake plates make perfect pancakes and you literally can't burn them. Downside is ability to cook just 4 pancakes at a time, but again, they're perfect, so that's an ok tradeoff.
I bought the Cuisinart WAF-300 on Amazon where it's about $80.
Here's me and Miss Claire making one-handed whole grain waffles on a recent weekend morning. She always gets up first, so she gets first dibs on breakfast.
And this recipe with the make-ahead mix is so easy you can execute it while holding a baby!