3 ways to beat McDonald’s All-Day Breakfast menu on speed and price

Are there seasons in your life where you're more likely to swing through the drive-thru because you're tired, stressed, or overwhelmed?

Fall is like that for me. My friends start talking boots and flannel. Pumpkin Spice Lattes start showing up in my Instagram feed. And the corn mazes and pumpkin farms open for business.

And me? While I love colorful leaves and impossibly blue autumn skies as much as the next person, I cringe when fall arrives.

It has nothing to do with the weather and everything to do with my husband's busy season. As a farmer, he is busy harvesting, usually gone before the kids get up and home after they're in bed. By the third (okay, second) week, the kids and I are cranky, and my car veers into the drive-thru. By itself. It's the craziest thing.

But I resolved this year would be different.

So I really analyzed my day and discovered my overwhelm started with breakfast and kitchen clean-up. And it didn't stop all day, but maybe I could start the day off on the right foot.

So I spent a Saturday morning creating some fast breakfast options. I included what it cost me to make some of these meals, although your mileage may vary.
English muffin egg sandwich

1. Forget McDonald's. Here's an English Muffin Egg Sandwich.

Total cost: $0.78 (vs. $2.99 for a Sausage McMuffin with Egg from McDonald's)

English muffin, toasted ($0.17)

Egg, fried (from my chickens, but otherwise $0.22)

Slice of Canadian bacon ($0.19)

Slice of cheese ($0.20)

Assemble the egg, cheese, and Canadian bacon between the muffin halves. Wrap carefully in wax paper, then tightly wrap in foil. Place in zip-top freezer bags. These reheat well in my toaster oven at 325 for 30 minutes. Add vegetables of your choice if you want to up the nutrition.


Egg burrito on plate

2. And Here's an Egg Burrito Too!

Total cost: $0.61 (vs. $1.56 for a Sausage Burrito from McDonald's)

Tortilla ($0.10)

One slice of bacon ($0.25)

Two eggs, scrambled ($0.44)

Sprinkling of shredded cheese ($0.05)

Leftover broccoli ($0.02)

If you're adding any raw veggies, saute them until soft. Then add your eggs to the pan. Cook until done. Depending on the size of your tortilla, spread around ¼ c. of eggs slightly off center. Top with bacon, cheese and broccoli (or other leftovers). Wrap up the tortilla, burrito-style. First, wrap in the wax paper and then tightly wrap it in foil. Place in zip-top freezer bags. These reheat well in my toaster over at 325 for 30 minutes. Or you can wrap the naked burrito in a damp paper towel and warm it up in the microwave.

These egg breakfasts are awesome for using up leftover veggies or small amounts of meat that may otherwise get shoved to the back of the fridge. Although I didn't do a price comparison on quiche, it freezes well and transforms limp broccoli into something quite delicious!


Bowl of oatmeal with blueberries

3. Fruit & Maple Oatmeal That Rivals the Drive-Thru

Total cost: $0.30-35 (vs. $1.99 for Fruit and Maple Oatmeal from McDonald's)

½ c. old-fashioned oats ($0.08)

¾ c. of milk or water – enough to cover ($0.14)

Cinnamon (negligible cost)

Seasonal fruit/nuts as desired – apples, raisins, bananas, berries, pecans ($0.12 for blueberries)

Maple syrup to taste (negligible cost)

Place oats in a (microwaveable) bowl and cover with water or milk. Add a dash of salt to enhance flavor if you like.

Next, customize. At this time of year, apples and cinnamon make a nice addition. Or how about maple extract and pecans? Pumpkin and nutmeg? Whatever you're in the mood for, really. Adding spices, nuts, seeds, or fruit can make your tastebuds sing in the morning. Microwave on high for about 2½ minutes.

(Add fruits or nuts before — or after — cooking depending on whether you want them to be cooked or not.) Top with a bit of maple syrup.


Jar with overnight oats with apples and cranberries

There's All Sorts of Ways to be Creative!

Making oatmeal fresh doesn't take much time, but you can also make overnight oats. Add ½ c. old-fashioned oats to a glass jar and cover them with ¾ c. of milk or water. If you eat the oats cold, you'll save time. Plus, depending on your ingredients, this is a cheap meal. I buy my oats from a bulk food store for $0.81 per pound.

Baked oatmeal is another of our family's favorites. I can slice the baked oatmeal (it has a cake-like consistency) into squares and wrap it in wax paper with an outer layer of foil. Then, I slip them into freezer bags to be reheated.

1 egg ($0.22)

1/3 c. oil ($0.30)

1/3 c. sugar ($0.05)

Oatmeal ($0.32)

Baking powder, cinnamon, and salt (negligible)

1/2 c. milk ($0.09)

1/2 c. blueberries ($0.50)

Divided by five — 30 cents a serving. What!?!


Plate of pancakes

Driving Off-Menu With Waffles and Pancakes

We love waffles at our house. But I don't love cleaning the waffle iron. We freeze any extra waffles and they crisp up nicely in the toaster — without messing up my waffle iron again. It's just as fast (but so much more delicious) than Eggo or other frozen waffle brands.

I've been freezing extra waffles for years, but I haven't actually frozen pancakes — but I have put pancake muffins in the freezer. These muffins taste like pancakes, but the syrup is mixed into the batter … which means no syrup in my daughter's hair two minutes before the bus comes. Search online for these recipes and then tweak the recipe to your family's tastes. Berries and other dried fruits make delicious additions.

I freeze waffles, pancake muffins, and regular muffins in zip-top freezer bags.

But even if you don't freeze pancakes or waffles, you can still mix up most batters the night before. I have done this with waffle batters and they taste (and look) fine, even though the batter is a little disgusting-looking in the morning.

For pumpkin pancakes, incorporate pumpkin puree to the batter along with spices such as allspice, cinnamon, and ginger. But eating pancakes on the go can be a sticky mess — just one of the reasons why I love pancake muffins — however, you can solve this problem by making inside-out pancakes.

Inside-out pancakes

Standard pancake batter

½ c. brown sugar

½ t. cinnamon

2 T. of your favorite toasted nut, chopped

Make your favorite pancake batter. Then, mix up brown sugar, cinnamon, and toasted nuts. Spread the batter on the skillet as you normally would, but then press the sugar mixture on the batter before covering it with another layer of batter. Flip to finish both sides. (You may need to thin your batter more than normal.)

Is My Breakfast Strategy Passing the Test?

And how's this strategy working for me?

I expected to save some time and money, but I didn't realize how little my homemade breakfasts cost. If I hit the drive-thru, I usually don't mind paying more for the convenience. But here's the thing: planning ahead makes driving thru my own cupboards a whole lot more convenient than getting in the car and going to McDonald's.

Of course, it's not all rainbows and unicorns, as they say. Making everything and cleaning up a disastrously messy kitchen took hours. But now? My kitchen requires very little morning clean-up, everyone gets a tasty (and sometimes nutritious, although that can be argued) breakfast for less, and the real measure of success? The car hasn't pulled into the drive-thru once. Not once.

What strategies do you use to cope with busy seasons in your life? How much do you think you pay for conveniences like buying meals at the drive-thru?


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Mario
Mario
4 years ago

All good recipes. This is a great reminder that planning ahead is really the best way to save money — and eat healthier, presumably.

The funny thing is, for me, whenever I eat at McDonald’s (which is probably once or twice a year), it’s always away from home and *unplanned* — staying later at the office than anticipated, or hitting traffic on a long weekend drive and not making it home in time for lunch.

josefismael
josefismael
4 years ago

I’ve always been a fan of pre-making an egg bake every Sunday.

They’re dead simple to make, slices re-heat quickly in the microwave, and you can add just about any vegetable, spice or meat you want.

(Can’t recommend chicken & cauliflower though, but to each their own I guess 🙂

amanda
amanda
4 years ago

I make a quiche on Sunday and eat it all week long. I reheat it at half-power in the microwave for a 1.5 minute, takes just that long to get coffee and put creamer in the mug.

AzJoe
AzJoe
4 years ago

The first time I read about soaking oatmeal over night in the refrigerator, I thought it sounded pretty gross. Then I tried it when I had a very early morning activity. Oatmeal, water and blueberries, pick it up in the morning on my way out. it turned out to be very good, I’ll do it again – but I still like my hot oatmeal.

stellamarina
stellamarina
4 years ago
Reply to  AzJoe

There is an old tradition of soaking your breakfast oatmeal in water or milk overnight before cooking it in the morning. Makes the oatmeal creamier in texture.

I am also reminded of the old Scottish country custom of cooking up a big pot of oatmeal and pouring it into a wooden drawer in the kitchen. It forms a “cake” from which you would cut a slice as needed….easy to take with you out in the fields. Those frugal Scots!

Debi
Debi
4 years ago

Like Mario, fast food is a convenience for me, not a conscious food choice. Still, pricing these familiar fast food recipies out for home consumption is a good reminder. Don’t forget the price variance for the beverages. I don’t know exactly how many cups of coffee I get from a pound of beans but it’s pennies compared to the $1 coffee from the dollar menu.

My Factoring Network
My Factoring Network
4 years ago

Great Post!! These collection of recipes are easy to make and good to taste. Planning for future can easily save our money as per food is concerned. Thanks for sharing.

Alice
Alice
4 years ago

Great post, thank you! We love our long breakfast/brunch time on the weekends, but rarely find time or inclination during the week, this should help.

Question on costs: you mention thirty one cents to all under a dollar, someone mentioned beverages, but what about the wax/foil/zipbaggie combo for each item? Seems we need to add those costs in to be realistic. What about tupperware? Are there any tupperware/reusable things that are good for freezing that won’t freezer burn the food?

Lisa Aberle
Lisa Aberle
4 years ago
Reply to  Alice

I completely forgot about storage! Good point.
I sometimes reuse my large freezer bags, but do not reuse the wax paper or foil. Also, I have some Tupperware containers specifically created for freezing food and sometimes use those. They were expensive at first, but are reusable.

Dan
Dan
4 years ago

This is what you’re sending your readers now? Egg McMuffin recipes? How about some *actual* money saving strategies instead of pointing out the complete obvious in that homemade breakfast is cheaper than McDonalds.

Lisa Aberle
Lisa Aberle
4 years ago
Reply to  Dan

I hear ya. Sometimes I feel like I am writing things that are common sense over and over and over… Almost all personal finance can be summed up in a few words. Spend less than you earn, for instance. I knew that making my own breakfasts would save me money over buying it at McDonalds. But I had no idea that all of our breakfast go-tos were less than a dollar per serving. I also underestimated how the right start to my day would keep my spending in check for the rest of the day. When I write, I always… Read more »

Linda Vergon
4 years ago
Reply to  Dan

Hi Dan,

In this case, since McDonald’s announced yesterday that they were offering their breakfast menu all day, we thought it was a good opportunity to show how, with some planning, people can achieve similar results and save even more money.

I’m sorry the article doesn’t hit the mark from your perspective, though — and I’d really appreciate knowing the topics you’re specifically interested to see. Please share with us if you get the chance, and thanks for reading!

Best regards,
Linda Vergon
Editor of GetRichSlowly.org

Sherry
Sherry
4 years ago
Reply to  Dan

Dan,

Something to keep in mind is that for people who’ve been out on their own for a while and have a handle on how much food costs vs eating out, for instance, this may seem obvious. But there are people on this board who are still students who may or may not have gotten a firm grounding in the practicalities of “home economics.” For them or people who’ve suddenly found themselves without a cost-conscious parent or spouse, learning where the pennies are can add up to serious dollars before long.

Beth
Beth
4 years ago
Reply to  Dan

Check the GRS archives. I believe the topic of money saving grocery shopping strategies has been well covered — including a piece by Donna a couple of weeks ago. Some recipes using inexpensive foods is a nice follow up, IMHO.

Kelly
Kelly
4 years ago

I have a recipe for a dry pancake mix that I use. I actually have the recipe written right on the container for when I need to make more. When you are ready to mix up a batch, all it takes is 1 cup of milk, one egg, a couple of table spoons of oil, and one cup of the mix. I use my electric griddle and can cook the entire batch at once. This is quick enough to do on weekdays. I also often do fried eggs as well. For oatmeal, I like to use apple juice instead of… Read more »

Linda Vergon
4 years ago
Reply to  Kelly

Hi Kelly –

Love the apple juice tip. What a great idea!

Thanks for sharing 🙂

Best regards,

Linda Vergon
Editor of GetRichSlowly.org

Sherry
Sherry
4 years ago

If you mix up a dry muesli-type combination of the oats, other small grains & seeds, slivered nuts and dried fruit, it can be kept in a big jar unrefrigerated. Dip out enough to half-fill a half-pint mason jar, add your liquid (I like almond milk) and put a standard cap & band on it. This is spill-proof in a lunch cooler bag and if you want to heat it in a microwave, just remove the metal cap pieces. Glass is the cleanest stuff (no chemical output like plastic) and can be re-used endlessly.

akoilady
akoilady
4 years ago
Reply to  Sherry

The “mason jar” idea is great. I just read somewhere on the web about the many sorts of meals you can pre-prepare for timesaving by using them. I reuse “regular” jars all the time, such as sauce jars, peanut butter jars, etc. Some I use for food storage, some for drinking: Just the right size! Talk about recycling…I’m just not sure if reusing these types of jars would work as well for the mason jar recipes because I don’t know how they would stand up to the heat in the microwave. And for Dan: I’m a regular reader, but I… Read more »

Beth
Beth
4 years ago

I’ve never tried overnight oats, but I highly recommend baked oatmeal. I customize it depending on the season and my mood. One time I added a little bit of dark chocolate and some fresh berries for a work brunch. I’ve also added grated apple and raisins, or added slices of season fruit.

Linda Vergon
4 years ago

(This comment came from Sue, a reader of our daily newsletter.)

Thanks for sharing your breakfast tips. Thinking outside the box almost always wins!

Jordana
Jordana
4 years ago

One thing that strikes me as I read through this is that there’s no accounting for the cost of the waxed paper, tinfoil, and zip top baggies. Especially if you’re going to triple wrap each item, that will add up.

Of course, it will still be cheaper than eating out, but it’s worth noting.

(Let’s assume the gas/electricity to cook and gas to get to McDonald’s are a wash!)

Kelly M
Kelly M
4 years ago

My first thought when I read this was “where are the vegetables”? I understand that you are comparing prices to fast food, but it pains me to see a post devoted to food that contains basically zero vegetables and is mostly meat, cheese and bread. A diet that is this heavy on animal products and bread is not healthy and if kept up for long enough, will not save you money. I certainly hope that folks are eating better things for breakfast more often than not!

Michael
Michael
4 years ago
Reply to  Kelly M

I agree with you if we’re talking about a whole diet, but I think most people would not eat vegetables at breakfast. Eating a high protein high carb breakfast, a big salad at lunch, and a vegetable-heavy evening meal should be fine.

Elizabeth Vega
Elizabeth Vega
4 years ago

These all sound delicious! And thank you for the toaster-oven heating times… We are microwave-free in our Little Hippie House!

When we’re on the go, we find that wrapping our hot breakfast sandwiches in parchment paper helps keep them warm on the road!

Margaret
Margaret
4 years ago

Egg McMuffins can get even easier!

Preheat oven to 350
grease 12 muffin tins and crack and egg into each one.
Split the english muffins in half and spread them out on a cookie sheet.

bake eggs and english muffins for 15min.

Assemble eggs and muffins and top with a slice of cheese. voila! even easier

Ben
Ben
4 years ago

Making things like egg sandwiches ahead of time does’t actually save you time. In a fraction of the time it takes to reheat something frozen, you could have made it from scratch. Plus there’s no need to package and store it. (See above: reheats well in my toaster over at 325 for 30 minutes) Here’s my breakfast hack for a hot egg & cheese sandwich. 1. Put two slices of break or english muffin in the toaster 2. Spray a small plate or saucer with cooking spray 3. Crack an egg into the plate and stir with a fork or… Read more »

Michael
Michael
4 years ago
Reply to  Ben

I love your recipe, but it stills takes 3 times as long as zapping a frozen sandwich for 90 seconds, and you have to be in the room the whole time.

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