Breakfast on the fly — and on the cheap

Everybody talks about the cost of lunches out. But what about breakfast? How much are those bagels or egg-and-cheese burritos costing you each week?

The first meal of the day can be challenging. Some people aren't hungry when they get up and thus need to take food with them for later. Or they spend the early-morning hours trying to get kids up, dressed, fed, lunchboxed and off to the bus stop or the child-care center. Or they sleep until the last possible second and fly out the door, and then hit the coffee cart in the lobby.

But have you checked the labels on those sweet rolls? (Hint: The only thing higher than the fat and calorie contents is the price of the pastry!)

It is possible to create breakfasts that are fast and easy yet not nutritionally bankrupt. After all, even McDonald's is offering oatmeal these days. More to the point: A homegrown (or at least home-assembled) breakfast is almost always going to be cheaper than one you pay someone else to fix for you.

oatmeal
Oatmeal can be tasty. Photo by Nate Steiner.

The Many Faces of Oatmeal

To some people, breakfast = cereal. Full stop. For me, cereal = oatmeal, because it's easy, inexpensive and tasty. And it's here: For the past few years I've used coupon/rebate combos to get old-fashioned oats for as little as 2 to 4 cents per bowl; sometimes they were even free. Currently I've stockpiled nine 42-ounce boxes of horse's food, enough for the next nine months. (By which point it will have gone on sale again.)

Oats, water, a pinch of salt, five minutes in the microwave at 50% power and I'm eating breakfast. Sometimes I add blackberries that I pick for free each summer and freeze. You could stir in nuts, cranberries, raisins, wheat germ, flax seed or whatever floats your healthful boat.

Tip: Check the bulk-buy bins at grocery stores. At one supermarket near me, old-fashioned oats can be had for $1.09 per pound. Over in the cereal aisle a box of oats costs about three times as much. That's a steep price to pay for a picture of a guy who looks like Robert Bork in a Quaker hat.

You can make “overnight oatmeal” by preheating a wide-mouthed thermos with boiling water and then adding a serving's worth of oatmeal, salt and more boiling water. Close it up and go to bed. The next morning, breakfast is served.

A woman I know makes a week's worth of porridge at a time, parcels it into single-serving containers and heats one up each morning. This oats-for-one deal could also be taken along to work if you have a microwave oven there. Either add sweetener/fruits and milk at home, or keep them in the workplace fridge.

Some folks keep cold cereal and milk at work. This works only if your boss doesn't mind snap-crackle-pop noises in the workplace — and if you don't have the kind of cubicle mates who'd pilfer your stash or take the prize out of your box of cornflakes. (Bastards!)

Whatever you do: Resist those single-serve cold cereals. They're outrageously priced. You can achieve the same effect by putting a cup of Cheerios in a lidded Tupperware container (or into a Tupperware alternative).

Whether you're buying hot cereal or cold, watch for those loss leader/coupon combos. These can make even instant oatmeal cheap enough to buy. Personally, I find the texture too runny. I like my oats to put up a fight.

Drinking Your Breakfast

I did not just give you permission for a 7 a.m. tipple. I'm referring to breakfast shakes or smoothies, i.e., mixtures of milk and/or juice and/or fruit and/or yogurt. Add wheat germ, protein powder, peanut butter or whatever else will hold you until noon.

Pressed for time? Right before bedtime put some yogurt, fruit (fresh or frozen) and whatever else you want into the blender canister, then pop it into the fridge. Next morning, add your liquid of choice (which could include soy or nut milk) and blend. Like your smoothies cold and thick? Fill an ice-cube tray with juice and store the healthful result in a plastic bag or container, to be added one or two at a time later.

Note: This is a breakfast you can sip while waiting for the bus or the train. But please, please don't drink and drive. Keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel.

“Instant breakfast” powders abound. They're easy. But making your own breakfast drinks is probably cheaper, especially if you buy fruit and juice at warehouse clubs, or make your own yogurt. (Or grow your own fruit.)

And speaking of fruit: Bananas should always be available at your house. They're the ultimate grab-and-go solution if you oversleep, and they add flavor and nutrition to cereal or smoothies.

Cinnamon muffins
J.D.'s wife sometimes makes these cinnamon muffins for breakfast.

Cookies for Breakfast!

Likewise: I did not just give you permission to eat Oreos as soon as you get up. I am also aware there is a cereal with the word “cookie” in the title, but I refrain from comment.

No, I am referring to what's basically a palmful of nutrition disguised as a dessert. Myscha Theriault at Wise Bread published a recipe that features bananas, applesauce, oats, skim milk and dried fruit — but no flour and no eggs, for those avoiding such things for reasons dietary or humane. A Year of Slow Cooking offers a “baked oatmeal” recipe that you actually cut into squares, like brownies.

Healthy muffin recipes are out there, too. My sister makes a lovely apple/walnut variety with practically no sugar and just a hint of cheddar cheese. Make a double batch and you're set for weeks. Do this to avoid the commercially available muffins, most of which are both expensive and unhealthy.

But dang, they look good. Cinnamon rolls, doughnuts and bear claws are likewise a huge temptation but a bad idea. Most are crammed with fat and sugar, which means they'll make you feel like a happy and productive citizen — until your blood sugar crashes, leaving you twitching and cranky and filled with self-loathing. Also, you'll have Krispy-Kreme breath. Is that the kind of impression you want to leave with your 10 a.m. client?

(For the record: Chocolate-chip muffins are against God.)

Whole-grain toast or an English muffin with peanut butter or some other nut butter would stay with you longer. (But since PB breath is as bad as doughnut breath, make sure you brush your teeth before you leave the house.) A bagel with cream cheese or nut butter works for plenty of people, too.

Or how about making your own breakfast burritos? Recipes abound online. By fixing them at home you not only conserve money but also calories and fat content. Make enough burritos for a week (or a month) and freeze them. The same could be done with breakfast biscuits; put on eggs, meats (or “facon,” i.e., breakfast-meat substitutes), cheese or whatever you like.

Note: I pay $1.39 for a 20-ounce bag of tortillas at my local bakery outlet, which also sells numerous kinds of breads, rolls, English muffins and other carb-y delights. Or bake your own bread.

And Other Fancy Stuff

If you're a practical, organized sort of person, please come over and clean my apartment. After that, try one or more of the following techniques:

  • Breakfast batch cooking. Make and freeze a ton of French toast, pancakes or waffles. Everyone in your workplace will be wildly jealous, especially if you're heating up French toast made with cinnamon bread. (Again: Check the bread outlet.)
  • Fruit cup. Spend an hour on Sunday afternoon cutting up melon and pineapple and washing grapes. Apportion it into little cups, and keep a spoon at work. Just for fun, price the precut fruit at the grocery store and then congratulate yourself on your thrift.
  • Yogurt parfait. The classy way: Layer yogurt, granola (look for easy recipes online) and fruit in a container. The lazy way: Pour some yogurt into one of your fruit cups, and sprinkle on some granola if you remember.
  • Miniature omelets. These are basically a mixture of beaten eggs and/or cheese and/or meats and/or sautéed veggies baked in muffin cups.
  • Frittatas or quiches. Like omelets, only you might find it easier to wash one casserole dish than to swab out a couple of dozen muffin-pan divots. Look for the simplest recipes and doctor them to fit your/your family's tastes.

Taste is the most important issue here, because “breakfast” can mean whatever you think it means. It could mean having half a dozen hard-boiled eggs and some string cheese ready to pack into your briefcase. It could be a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or leftover pizza. I distinctly remember eating cold spaghetti on some long-ago mornings.

Now I eat oatmeal — but because I want to, not because I have to. You're a grownup, too, so you get to make your own decisions. May they mostly improve your health and spare your wallet.

Skip the chocolate-chip muffins, though. Seriously.

J.D.'s note: When Kris read this article, she suggested I point folks to one of her favorite blogs, Food in Jars, which recently wrote about breakfast baked eggs in half-pint jars.
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Adrian
Adrian
9 years ago

..And To Think I Once Was Believed To Be The Only Individual Who Enjoyed The Taste, Texture, Nutrition & Economy Of Good Old-Fashioned Oatmeal. Cheers, Donna! 😉

Luke
Luke
9 years ago
Reply to  Adrian

I love porridge, but unfortunately I find my stomach growling fairly quickly if I don’t get some protein in the morning 🙁

Leah
Leah
9 years ago
Reply to  Luke

Oatmeal actually does contain a some protein. Quaker instant oatmeal (which is a fairly small and somewhat processed sample) has 3g of protein in 150 g of cereal. If you prepare you’re own, I’m sure you’d make more than the quaker packets. Yes, it’s not as much as, say, eggs, but it does have some protein.

Debbie M
Debbie M
9 years ago
Reply to  Leah

My mom mixes peanut butter into her oatmeal to get more protein and staying power.

Luke
Luke
9 years ago
Reply to  Leah

I did know that Leah, but I seem to have a crazy insatiable stomach – large quantities of protein or bust!

Laura
Laura
9 years ago
Reply to  Leah

1/3 quick oats + 1 cup soy milk + 1 tbsp REAL (never fake!) maple syrup + 1 tbsp peanut butter = one yummy breakfast. 🙂 Microwave for 1 minute, stir, microwave 1 more minute (i.e., till it begins to boil). I use a deep glass bowl that allows it to boil w/o spilling over. It cools to edible temperature while I shower. Yum yum yum yum yum. The real maple syrup probably makes this relatively expensive, but totally worth the cost to me.

Charlotte
Charlotte
9 years ago
Reply to  Leah

Whole-grain oatmeal has more protein. Mine has 7g per 1/4 cup serving. 365 Organic from Whole Foods Market. Lasts me 3 hours, or 4 if I add some nuts and soymilk without getting hungry. Not to mention delicious! I am willing to pay $3/lb (on sale) for this stuff. A serving every morning keeps me in good spirits.

fetu
fetu
9 years ago
Reply to  Leah

Just had a look at my oatmeal….the ordinary old-fashioned type sold at supermarkets everywhere. 5 grams of protein in 1/2 a cup. I also like to add an extra heaped teaspoon of oat bran flakes to the pot to kick up the fiber count. Eat it with brown sugar and a sprinkle of cinnamon….plus milk.

Larisa
Larisa
5 years ago
Reply to  Leah

try savory oatmeal additions – eggs, grated parmesan, sauteed onions, mushrooms, peppers etc – you get the idea – YUM+protein.

Mary
Mary
9 years ago
Reply to  Luke

I put nuts and soy milk in my oatmeal for protein. I also like to add dried fruit, alittle salt and fresh ground pepper for a little “bite”.

Danielle
Danielle
9 years ago
Reply to  Luke

You can throw some nuts in there for extra protein. I add a spoonful of ground flax seeds, too, which has all those good fats.

margot
margot
9 years ago
Reply to  Luke

I mix protein powder into my oatmeal – cheap, easy fix and a good way to get more protein. In fact, I can add it to just about anything to up the protein, including smoothies and other items mentioned in this post.

Hipjazz
Hipjazz
9 years ago
Reply to  Luke

I’m SO with you…oatmeal is delicious but I have to have other food with it as well, or a second breakfast later (like a hobbit!)

Whole wheat toast with honey almond butter is a favorite fast breakfast for me. Also chocolate peanut butter…melt chocolate chips, mix in natural just-peanuts peanut butter, spread on toast. YUM.

I also really, really like chocolate chip muffins. And pie. Yes, for breakfast.

Marcella
Marcella
9 years ago
Reply to  Luke

If you like oatmeal, but want protein, I recommend you try quinoa. This is an amazing grain that has something like 10% protein. The protein it supplies is complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids.

It cooks a bit like cous cous but requires longer to cook, but you can definitely cook it as a breakfast meal and it does pretty much the same job as oatmeal. Here’s an article with some ideas for cooking:

http://foodandspice.blogspot.com/2009/06/breakfast-quinoa-porridge.html

And some details about it in general:

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=142&tname=foodspice

Quinoa is great for non breakfast meals too.

Luke
Luke
9 years ago

The Simple Dollar article on bulk breakfast burritos transformed my breakfasting habits. Granted, the burritos made on TSD are a bit boring, but it’s perfectly easy to make more interesting ones yourself in bulk and then freeze them. I tend to go for black beans cooked with pork bones, onions, chillis and chopped tomatoes and lots of scrambled egg. Healthy, loads of protein and very filling! It used to take me 20 minutes to cook and eat breakfast and I was normally hungry by 10 (I start work at 7). Now it takes me 5-10 minutes (turn on the microwave… Read more »

Rosa
Rosa
9 years ago
Reply to  Luke

Oh, what a good idea. My kid wants eggs every morning, but if I cook ahead (like frittata) his dad just eats it all late at night and we still don’t have any. He’d totally eat an egg, bacon & bean burrito – and I can even hide shredded zucchini in it.

Lody
Lody
9 years ago
Reply to  Luke

I started making breakfast burritos after reading the Simple Dollar post, too. Have fallen off the wagon recently and been eating “protein bars” (they should be called sugar bars instead) in the morning. Part of the reason I stopped making the burritos is they were too messy to eat in the car or at my desk. I like the idea of baked eggs in a jar, though — those could be eaten at my desk, no problem!

Nicole
Nicole
9 years ago

Back when I was still nursing I had oatmeal every morning. The night before I would pour it out, add dried fruit and nuts, and put water in a measuring cup. Then in the morning first thing I would add the water, pop it in the microwave for 2.5 min and go about my morning business. By the time I had a free moment it would be the right temperature to eat. These days I generally just have plain cereal with milk (a super expensive oat-based cereal imported from England that doesn’t make me feel like crap), though this morning… Read more »

Luke
Luke
9 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

Mind if I ask what cereal it is Nicole?

Nicole
Nicole
9 years ago
Reply to  Luke

Dorset cereals. The one in the purple box.

The other boxes are tasty too, but I have to eat them with yogurt (full fat, one ingredient: cultured milk) instead of milk if I want to feel ok later. (I have insulin problems.)

Luke
Luke
9 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

My fiancee loves that stuff – although it’s dear enough in the UK!

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
9 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

Nicole, if you have insulin problems try starting the day without starches.

Also, milk can shoot up your insulin– milk, yogurt, whatever.

You might wanna try a paleo breakfast. It’s delicious and awesome.

Nicole
Nicole
9 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

Don’t worry, I know what works for me, including what needs balancing. Yogurt and cheese don’t cause spikes for me, nor does oatmeal (especially with cinnamon, which helps balance). When I was pregnant (after the time when all I could keep down was fruit) I had to do meat for breakfast, milk products at lunch, and veggies at dinner (at dinner I couldn’t have calcium because of the iron pills), but it isn’t as bad when I’m not inciente.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
9 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

MMM, meat for breakfast is yummy.

Jess
Jess
9 years ago

I volunteer at a charity 3 mornings a week (recent graduate trying to get experience) and keep cereal there. Since I also work evenings at a call centre. I don’t get home til 9pm. I always take lunch (usually home made soup) in with me & a snack to tide me over until I get dinner at 9… ie yoghurts, fruit, nuts, carrot sticks. Otherwise the vending machine is too handy ;). Good article!

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
9 years ago
Reply to  Jess

I used to keep instant oatmeal or box of cereal, a bowl, spoon and some dish soap in my office cubicle 😉 It was great for breakfast or a snack.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
9 years ago

I used to make yoghurt parfaits with a 50/50 mix of granola and a high-fibre cereal like All Bran or crushed Mini Wheats. The added fibre keeps you fuller longer, and it keeps a nice crunch without sacrificing the taste of the granola. (Plus it helps stretch the pricy granola with a cereal you can often find on sale or in bulk!)

valleycat1
valleycat1
9 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

That’s called a power breakfast at some restaurants! This is good with a small piece of fruit or a fruit salad cup.

Ru
Ru
9 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

I love doing something similar to this- I fill half of my beaker with frozen raspberries, pour on plain yoghurt, a pinch of chilli powder and a drizzle of honey, blizt with the hand blender and the chuck a handful of Special K cereal on top. It’s soooo good especially on baking hot summer mornings!

Sustainable PF
Sustainable PF
9 years ago

1 granny smith apple
1 brown bread peanut butter sandwich
1 coffee – brewed at home lugged in thermos.

Does the trick for me until lunch and saves quite a bit of $$ compared to spending $3-$5 to buy this stuff from a restaurant.

valleycat1
valleycat1
9 years ago
Reply to  Sustainable PF

Brownbread – this is my go-to breakfast, tho with tea instead of coffee. I toast the bread, turn it into a pb&j sandwich, grab an apple or banana & I’m set til lunch time.

KS
KS
9 years ago
Reply to  valleycat1

Peanut butter on whole grain crackers (Kavli) or whole grain bread is my staple breakfast. Oatmeal with nut milk (less carbs than regular milk) with nut butter stirred in, Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts, hard boiled eggs (can be made in advance of course), avocado on whole wheat bread. Combo of protein and carbs all keep me going.

indio
indio
9 years ago

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. In fact, I like it so much I will eat typical breakfast foods for lunch or dinner. If you make the pancake batter thin enough, you can call it a crepe and fill it with a veg saute or cheese and ham or a strawberry rhubarb compote and call it dessert. I totally agree that oatmeal is a delicious, healthy and versatile food. I add it to bread, muffins, anything that needs a little fiber bulk to it. That reminds I haven’t eaten yet.

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
9 years ago

I used to really struggle with breakfast. I’d eat junk food or nothing at all. (Sometimes, I still struggle with breakfast; I’m a sucker for donuts.) Over the past year, though, I’ve forced myself to eat well for breakfast, but it comes at a price. Literally. Because I’ve made fitness my top priority, and because I’ve been exercising first thing in the morning, I try to eat a large helping of protein when I get back to the gym. This translates to about half a pound of organic chicken sausage several times per week. It’s not cheap. I figure my… Read more »

Luke
Luke
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

Couldn’t you get protein from eggs or beans J.D.? Would be a lot cheaper! Are you on a specific diet plan in addition to the exercise?

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
9 years ago
Reply to  Luke

Hey, Luke. I do eat egg whites for breakfast fairly often (yolks disagree with me), and sometimes I have beans. I try to keep my carbs low at breakfast, though, so I don’t eat as many beans as I might otherwise.

I should make this a project, though: searching for low-cost protein sources for my morning meal.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

Costco sells boxes of egg whites pretty cheap. I mix each box with a couple of whole eggs for good taste and phospholipid power, but you don’t have to. Of course egg whites taste like crap. That’s why you toss some 505 green chile salsa on them, then follow that with a low-sugar fruit (grapefruit, strawberries) you’re good to go for the morning. [I get organic strawberries at Trader Joe’s for $2 per 12 oz packet, which is a great price. (Conventional strawberries are heavily sprayed).] Of course nothing beats broiled salmon for breakfast, tossed with lemon and fresh scallions.… Read more »

Jordan
Jordan
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

I’m glad you all are talking about eggs in the comments. I’ll often make a batch of egg casserole/crustless quiche/whatever you want to call it Sunday night for the week’s breakfast. Cube bread slices, maybe half a dozen eggs, shredded cheese (make your own), bacon, sausage or any other leftover meat from dinner, milk or cream and some seasons. Put in a 8×8 or 9×13 pan and bake for 45 minutes. Lo carb: just remove the bread and add more eggs. You can of course add veggies as well.

Here is another great reference for breakfast on the go:
http://www.marksdailyapple.com/primal-breakfast-suggestions-people-on-the-go/

Paularado
Paularado
9 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

I cook up brown rice, eggs, and egg whites with some soy sauce on Sunday night for the entire week. Cheap, easy, full of protein, fiber, and some complex carbs. I should add veggies to the mix to make it even better. I make big batches of rice in my rice cooker about every 3 weeks and then freeze extra already portioned out (I count every calorie) for future egg/rice breakfasts. On Weekends we have power protein pancakes: 4 egg whites 1/4 cup lowfat cottage cheese 1 tsp sweetner (sugar, splenda or 1-2 drops stevia) 1 tsp cinnamon 1/2 cup… Read more »

Barb
Barb
9 years ago

Part of my weight loss adventure has been eating a healthy breakfast on the weekdays and pretty much allowing myself leeway on the weekends. Always looking for new ideas.

Oh, and I love the Food in Jars blog-making her mojito jelly is one of my goals for the summer

Monica
Monica
9 years ago

I’m reading this article while sitting at my desk eating a bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats.

I typically always eat breakfast at work (doesn’t bother anyone) and it’s frequently cold cereal.

Cereal does not have to be expensive. I stock up when my local grocery has BOGO deals.

I have tried for years to like oatmeal because it is filling and healthy. But I simply can’t stand it. Maybe I’ll try one of the suggestions above for a different way to prepare it.

Thanks for all the great breakfast tips!

Kate
Kate
9 years ago
Reply to  Monica

I dislike oatmeal made with water, but I like it made with milk. Mixing other flavors (like the berries and nuts suggested) in helps if we happen to be out of milk.

My mom likes grated carrot in hers along with blueberries and some pecans or walnuts.

Kelly
Kelly
9 years ago
Reply to  Monica

A lot of people put water in the oatmeal and then microwave it to heat it up – I find the makes the oatmeal get all gloopy and gross. I pour hot water into my oatmeal, and let it soften the oats for about a minute or so. Much nicer texture. But to each his own I guess, if even that doesn’t work for you! 🙂

Christy
Christy
9 years ago
Reply to  Monica

You might try steel cut oatmeal. I have serious texture issues with rolled oats (unless im baking them). Yes it takes 45 min to make but I make it on Sunday is a huge batch and divide up it to single serve containers, and freeze. take a couple min in the microwave yummy.

Sharon
Sharon
9 years ago

I can’t stand oatmeal. Too sticky and pasty, and I “crash” within an hour of eating it, just as though I’d eaten a donut. However, I do like baked oatmeal, which I prepare the night before and bake in the oven first thing in the morning. It has more of a heavy cake-like or bread-like texture. And I prepare it with loads of eggs and milk, so it has a bit more protein and “sticks” longer. (This also makes it more expensive, though.) We actually eat a lot of boxed Raisin Bran (generic). At less than two dollars a box,… Read more »

smirktastic
smirktastic
9 years ago
Reply to  Sharon

Love love LOVE generic raisin bran! 🙂

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
9 years ago
Reply to  Sharon

If it’s too pasty all you need to do is toss the oats in the water once the water is boiling. They come out nice and flaky.

If you start them in cold water and bring them to a boil together, they will get pasty. It’s just a matter of technique.

Easy. Give it a try.

Add a tablespoon of almond or peanut butter and it will stick to your ribs for the morning.

Also, cook them with clove and cinnamon powder for good taste.

Sharon
Sharon
9 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

Thanks for the tip re: bringing the water to a boil first. I’ll have to give that a try!

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
9 years ago
Reply to  Sharon

2 cups boiling water (optional pinch of salt), 1 cup regular oats, 5 minutes. I hope it you like it!

Oh, and avoid instant or quick oatmeal, it’s got a nasty texture.

Katie
Katie
9 years ago

Breakfast is the one restaurant-related thing I feel no guilt about buying! For $2-$3, I can get something hot and filling that will last me till lunch, and I can get it when I want it (which is right when I get to work) without any effort on my part. That’s a huge bargain, IMO!

(It helps that we have free coffee and tea at work so I don’t have to also spend on that.)

No Debt MBA
No Debt MBA
9 years ago

We’ve been doing cereal recently (big box of generic cheerios) since we haven’t had time to cook in the morning like we used to. I think I might try making a batch of those breakfast cookies though especially if I can find some nuts on sale to go in them. Zero prep in the morning and no dishes sounds good to me!

Adam P
Adam P
9 years ago

Of all the meals to eat out, if one must, breakfast is the cheapest it seems. Not only all the 99 cent mcmuffiny types, but even sit down meals can be $4.99 for a plate of bacon and eggs or “organic porridge with anti-oxidant berries” etc. I’m *not* a morning person. I need incentive to be happy in the morning. Currently it’s a flavoured coffee and triple blueberry muffin from the coffee place below work. Like a ritual. This is most assuredly not the best diet path (though at 6’1″ 163lbs and gym 7 days a week, I’m fine with… Read more »

Artist
Artist
9 years ago

Thanks for a great article. I make mini fritatas in a muffin pan, let them cool completely, put 2 in a freezer-to-microwave container, that gives me six scrumptious, protein rich breakfasts that I can grab & re-heat in the microwave. I’ve even had them for a light lunch or dinner with a side salad &/or soup. You can make them as healthy or decadent as you like. The fellas I work with order in breakfast burritos once a week & my 6-meal batch of fritatas costs less than one person’s one order of breakfast burritos! I also really enjoy a… Read more »

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
9 years ago
Reply to  Artist

A frittata will last you a while in the fridge, no need to freeze it, and it tastes good cold with some olive oil and a side salad, like a Spanish tortilla.

I mention this because it’s a lot of energy to defrost things, and the thought of microwaving food makes a grown man cry. 🙁

katinfoco
katinfoco
9 years ago

Try steel-cut oats (~$0.70/lb)…they have an entirely different texture and better taste than reg oatmeal. I cook up several servings (takes about 25 minutes), then warm up a single serving subsequent mornings. One cup oats makes about 5 servings. See Alton Brown’s recipe (i don’t use Buttermilk)

I have eliminated cold cereal from my diet (and all that sugar and $$). I never tire of the taste (that surprises me as I have eaten cold cereal for years)….healthy too.

Amanda
Amanda
9 years ago
Reply to  katinfoco

I don’t buy the story that there are healthy cereals in the “regular” aisle. No matter what name they give the ingredients are largely the same. When I consumed milk I used to eat dry cereals from the organic aisle that were tasty and healthier.

Eric
Eric
9 years ago

Been doing the oatmeal thing for a while now. Buy quick cook oats in bulk at Costco, and throw in frozen strawberries (also from Costco), fresh berries if in season, dried fruit, etc. Eat a granola bar on the way to work, and toss the oatmeal in the microwave for 2 mins. with tap water. If I do the dried fruit, I can just use the hot water from our coffee machine, and it cooks on it’s own. Add sugar/honey if you really need it, and that’ll stir right in. If you don’t like oatmeal in that form, it turns… Read more »

NancyV908
NancyV908
9 years ago

I have some suggestions for making oatmeal more palatable. I love it, & eat it all the time, but I do not like it cooked in the microwave–I find stovetop cooking makes it much creamier. Of course, this takes time, so I make a pot on Sundays & eat it throughout the week. Warning: it gets thick & gloppy in the refrigerator, but don’t be discouraged–add some water or milk when you reheat & it will be fine. I also tend to add more liquid when I cook in advance. I also find oatmeal to bland when cooked with just… Read more »

Stephanie
Stephanie
9 years ago

We almost always do the yoghurt – lazy or otherwise – an it saves us two ways. It’s cheaper than the McD’s version, and it saves on food cravings and snacking during the morning.

Great article – I’m noting some of the breakfast bar options!

Jennifer
Jennifer
9 years ago

My husband is a late riser, so I’ve taken to just sending him to work with a plastic container with 3/4 cup oatmeal (regular rolled oats) raisins, and flaxseed. At his work, there is one of those “instant boiling water” dispensers, which he uses to fill up in oatmeal bowl. He leaves the lid on to let it cook, and about 20 minutes later (or whenever he happens to get around to eating it), the oatmeal is done and cool enough to eat. It was so easy and convenient, I ended up doing the same thing for me and the… Read more »

Kate
Kate
9 years ago

I do what Nancy does- cook a big batch and then eat as needed. For everyone who thinks oatmeal is bland, just add a pinch (a pinch, mind you) of salt. It’s what my Scots granny did and it really brings out the flavor.
Cooking on the stove is best. Like most cooking a bit of effort at the beginning saves time and money further along.

Michael P (@PizSez)
Michael P (@PizSez)
9 years ago

Every single breakfast suggestion in both the article and comments is a nutritive disaster!

If you want to eat healthy, I recommend http://www.freetheanimal.com and http://www.marksdailyapple.com

Luke
Luke
9 years ago

I tried reading some of the first link you included, but I’m of the opinion that if a blogger needs to swear (with any regularity) to get their point across, their blog probably isn’t worth reading.

It’s the electronic version of avoiding jerks at parties :-p

Ely
Ely
9 years ago
Reply to  Luke

Richard doesn’t NEED to swear, I think he just enjoys it. 🙂 Give the other blog (Mark’s) a shot, it’s much more civilized and extremely informative.

I also eat mostly paleo, and cutting out breakfast cereal, bread, oatmeal, and pasta resolved my lifelong blood sugar problems. I eat eggs for breakfast almost every day: hard-boiled to take to work, and however hubby wants to cook them on the weekends. 🙂

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
9 years ago
Reply to  Ely

As a Crossfitter, I’m surrounded by paleo proponents all the time. Most of my Crossfit family eats paleo. (And really, the folks at my gym are like a family to me.) I, however, don’t embrace the lifestyle fully. There’s no question I’ve ramped up my protein intake, and I think that’s helped me lose fat an build muscle. But I don’t buy into a lot of the (pseudo-)science behind the paleo movement, especially the shaky anthropological justifications. And I think there’s something to be said for moderation. So, while I just got back from Crossfit and downed a breakfast containing… Read more »

Suzanne
Suzanne
9 years ago
Reply to  Ely

I heart paleo, too, though we used to just call it Atkins. If you skip past the first month or so of both diets, to the ongoing, lifetime plan, they end up in the same place except for dairy.

partgypsy
partgypsy
9 years ago
Reply to  Ely

I do think people should do what works for them, and I do think there is variability across people in what kind of diet they “tolerate”. Personally I can tolerate high levels of carbs : ) One thing that paleo and most other diet folks ignore, that we have more cells of microbes in our gut than all the cells in our digestive tract. Their activity make many more nutrients and vitamins available than what our digestive tract is “genetically” designed for. Many animals have this situation (pandas). For example people living where they consume an extremely high fiber diet… Read more »

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
9 years ago

@Michael P: Why do you say that all these things are nutritive disasters? Seriously: I’m curious as to why you think grains, eggs and beans are bad for you.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
9 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

He’s promoting his Paleo blog, and I favor a Paleo diet, but he’s a terrible salesman. Flies, honey, vinegar, etc. Anyway, the theory goes like this, in a nutshell: due to evolutionary traits, humans do not have the genetic makeup to achieve their maximum potential with a diet that’s based on grains and legumes, and may actually develop diseases from such a diet. Returning to a primal or “Paleo” diet whenever possible purportedly has many health and fitness benefits. Rather than repeat the whole thing here, and write a book summary, check out this website: http://thepaleodiet.com/ I hope you like… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
9 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

This is not an attack, but a serious question, haven’t grains and beans been a part of humankind’s diet since the invention of fire?

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
9 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

@ Andrew No, of course, it’s a fair question. The answer as far as I know would be “no”. We may or may not have eaten some wild grains in prehistoric times, but grains did not become a staple until the first agricultural revolution and the advent of civilization. There is evidence of proto-wheat consumption in the East Mediterranean some 10,000 years ago, but… wait, here’s Wikipedia on the subject: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_agriculture#Early_history Beans require soaking and a container to cook, which predicates pottery, a relatively modern invention. Roots on the other hand would have been more accessible and easily roasted. It’s… Read more »

margot
margot
9 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

What a ridiculous “paleo” theory: “humans do not have the genetic makeup to achieve their maximum potential with a diet that’s based on grains and legumes, and may actually develop diseases from such a diet.” Crazy! There have been many studies of the communities of people who live the longest in the WHOLE WORLD. For example, one is a group of people on an island in Japan. EVERY community has a non-paleo diet. They eat lots of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and soy. Some that are coastal eat seafood. None eat lots of read meat. Many of their diets revolve… Read more »

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
9 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

@ Margot The beauty of science is that it’s based on observation and experimentation, not dogma, so “scientific facts” are always being challenged– as they should. (That doesn’t mean that everything goes, of course. I’m not an “evolution is just a theory” nut.) The Paleo diet doesn’t demand that you eat red meat, by the way, and it warns strongly about feedlot cattle. Paleo is not Atkins. Why do people criticize things they haven’t event bothered to read? That’s not scientific at all, that’s ridiculousness. And that’s a fact. [Disclaimer: I am not a Paleo fanatic, I have never liked… Read more »

Pamela
Pamela
9 years ago

I have to start off the day with protein or I get hungry again too quickly. Although it’s not as frugal as scrambling an egg for myself (or as environmentally sustainable), I find always having 8 oz yogurt cups around the house a great help.

They cost 60 cents a piece and I can grab and go, usually eating at my desk (yes, I know, another bad habit).

My heartfelt dream is to structure my life so I can always have a yummy, leisurely breakfast.

Luke
Luke
9 years ago
Reply to  Pamela

You’re a good woman Pamela, sounds like a dream worth working for 🙂

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
9 years ago
Reply to  Pamela

I just started making my own yogurt, in the slow cooker. Here’s the how-to link:
http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/10/you-can-make-yogurt-in-your-crockpot.html
Since I like a thicker yogurt, I let it strain (in small batches) through a colander lined with a flour-sack towel. It takes time this way but I like the texture so much more.
But if you like thinner yogurt, or you just want to us it for smoothies, that step could be omitted.

Pamela
Pamela
9 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

Thanks for the link, Donna. I’ll have to think about finding milk–I currently buy organic which is ultrapasteurized.

But I’ve been wondering if my crock pot was good for anything besides holding hot cider or soup? I just hate cooking with it. 🙂

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
9 years ago
Reply to  Pamela

The same author makes the “baked oatmeal” in the slow cooker.
Recipes abound online. I admit, though, that I mostly use mine to make soup stock, beans and chili.

honeybee
honeybee
9 years ago

I hate breakfast food. The idea of eating the same muffins for weeks is the worst thing I can imagine. When I was a kid, I would make myself stuffed ravioli for breakfast, because a) I was a hungry growing teen, and b) it was much better than breakfast food. I just don’t like bread, cereals, or anything like that. I don’t have many solutions. Smoothies are good, but take time I don’t have in the mornings. Recently, my boyfriend has been making dishes with lentils and quinoa, which I just eat for breakfast. They have tons of protein. It’s… Read more »

Kevin M
Kevin M
9 years ago

I stopped reading at “chocolate chip muffins are against God”. 🙂

You probably hate chocolate chip pancakes too. We usually eat those for “brinner” though – breakfast at dinner.

I usually like some protein at breakfast – so it’s scrambled eggs w/sharp cheddar, whole wheat toast, water & sometimes w/bacon.

My wife loves oatmeal and I usually eat it in the colder seasons. For some reason I just can’t eat it during the hotter months. Yes, I have strange eating habits.

Luke
Luke
9 years ago
Reply to  Kevin M

Kevin, I heartily recommend ‘linner’ as well (as in a giant lunch and next to nothing for dinner)!

Susan
Susan
9 years ago
Reply to  Kevin M

Hello,

Lots of great ideas here! If you don’t like hot oatmeal in the summer, try this: Before you go to bed put 1/3 cup of rolled oats in a bowl, add slightly less than 1/3 cup milk (or soy milk, etc), a sprinkle of cinnamon and a little honey, and leave in the fridge overnight. In the morning the milk will have softened the oats and you can add fruit, nuts or whatever goodies you like.

Chocolate chip muffins are one of God’s greatest gifts!!

Danielle
Danielle
9 years ago

Sometimes I eat rice (or another grain) for breakfast if I have leftovers from the night before. I heat it up with a little butter or olive oil, salt and pepper, and voila! If I want more protein, I’ll cook up an egg or add some shredded cheese. JD (and everyone): if you want more cheap protein-filled breakfasts, try doing this with quinoa. Packed with protein power! Another breakfast I like is simply toast with tea. My favorite bread is sprouted grain bread — def. more expensive than most, but so nutritious, healthy and filling. Finally, for “elevenses” I love… Read more »

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
9 years ago

One of the perks of working at home is that we get to eat a nice breakfast every morning. It makes me sad that so many people have to eat junk food in a rush.

For me it’s usually a post-workout starch (small portion of oatmeal or a bananaa), and then protein and an orange/grapefruit/bowl of berries/cantaloupe/etc depending on the season.

Summers I love a cold breakfast– smoothie season!!!!!

I’m thinking mango and blueberries today. Mmmm-mmmm-mmmm!

Tanya
Tanya
9 years ago

Lots of great tips here. Today I am eating a Colby Jack cheese stick, followed by a store-bought breakfast bar that costs me about 40 cents. I haven’t made breakfast burritos for awhile but when I did, they were yummy! And the oatmeal ideas sound great.

DreamChaser57
DreamChaser57
9 years ago

Love breakfast, favorite meal of the day. I just wanted to share a yummy recipe I’ve made with steel cut oats, it’s creamy and so aromatic…

http://www.hobnobmurfreesboro.com/food/recipes-and-entertaining/item/1073-aha-cookbook-recipe-slow-cooker-pumpkin-oatmeal

Adis
Adis
9 years ago

Since you mentioned bananas: is there an equivalent different fruit out there (easy and pretty much mess-free to eat, has it’s own handy packaging for on-the-go and super nutritional)?
Asking since I hate the taste, scent and palatial structure of bananas with a passion :(. They make me want to throw up :(. Most other conventional fruits aren’t as good as bananas in hitting the points mentioned.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
9 years ago
Reply to  Adis

When I was a school kid there’d always be mandarin oranges in my lunchbox. They are easy to peel, break up and eat, though there’s a bit of seed-spitting. A good navel orange (navel not valencia, which is for juice) should be easy to peel by hand too. Right now (if you are in the US) they have Cara-Cara oranges at Costco, and they are amazing. And if you want to pack a plastic container + fork, frozen mango slices are awesome. Blueberries come frozen too and you can eat them with a spoon (I try to buy blueberries organic).… Read more »

Carla
Carla
9 years ago

I learned a long time ago that a breakfast full of carbs is not good for me. I simply have protein leftovers from the night before: fish, chicken, etc – especially since I do go to the gym in the mornings now for my weight training. If I don’t have anything from the previous night, a couple of eggs is cheap and easy.

Jason F
Jason F
9 years ago

Mcdonalds oatmeal is horrible for you! Really poor recommendation.

http://boingboing.net/2011/02/25/mcdonalds-oatmeal-ha.html

My very easy quasi nutrious breakfast is stopping at a grocery store for a cup of yogurt and a bagel with cc (that I later toast at work) I’m a late riser so I can’t wake up early enough for breakfast at home. Only costs me about 1.50, and I’m usually pretty full from it.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
9 years ago
Reply to  Jason F

I didn’t RECOMMEND the McDonalds oatmeal. I just noted that it existed. I’ve never had it, myself.

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
9 years ago

I drink my coffee in the car *all the time* and haven’t crashed yet. They put the cup holders in there for a reason.

Luke
Luke
9 years ago

I thought that comment was a bit on the panicky side, too 🙂

It’s the health and safety equivalent of disclaimers in articles about investing!

Stacy
Stacy
9 years ago

I agree! I was going to post and say that I drink my breakfast smoothies in the car pretty frequently. I use a wide nalgene bottle with a screw-top lid and haven’t had an issue. If you’re brave you can puree a bit of baby spinach into your smoothie to up the vegetable content- I swear with the fruit you can’t taste it. I drive a lot for work so breakfast, lunch and any snacks are often eaten in the car. Smoothies are great, as are homemade breakfast cookies. My current favorite road food is trail mix. Buy the separate… Read more »

Kris
Kris
9 years ago

What I eat for breakfast depends on if I’m working that day or not. I don’t seem to need lots of protein to make it through the day, and I do need the carbs to feel right!

If I work, it is cold cereal (whole grain, low sugar, high fibre and protein) with milk and fruit, at my desk. Or a breakfast burrito (homemade).

If I don’t work, or work nights, I usually have a toasted english muffin or bagel with peanut butter and honey or jam. Purchased at the discount bread store, of course! 😉

Jennifer
Jennifer
9 years ago

Ok, seriously, what is wrong with chocolate chip muffins? I make them from scratch with whole wheat flour, sucanat, flaxseed meal, etc and they are almost healthy – at least you won’t be able to convince me otherwise.

My husband has found that scrambed eggs are faster than oatmeal. It takes only 2-3 minutes to crack 2 or 3 eggs in a hot pan, stir it around with a spoon (no need to scramble before hand) and top with a few grates of cheese. He usually eat his with yogurt or fruit for a complete nutritious meal.

Justin
Justin
9 years ago

My parents are pretty big fans of making their own granola mix for breakfast, you can get all the ingredients at the grocery store and tailor the recipe to your own tastes; it’s usually healthier than mass produced granola mix as well.

Jennifer Lissette
Jennifer Lissette
9 years ago

Muffins are a big favorite in this household for breakfast. I can make them with whole wheat flour, homemade yogurt and whatever fruit is lying around and needs to be used up. I can bake four dozen at a time and then stick them in the freezer and have a cheap, easy, yummy breakfast for the whole family. Also popular around here are smoothies for breakfast. This tends to happen more during the summer when I get a little overzealous at the farmer’s market and have fruit that needs to be used up. Squishy grapes, wrinkled plums, soft bananas, they… Read more »

Nancy K.
Nancy K.
9 years ago

Scrambled eggs take 3 minutes, start to finish. I throw in some cheese (feta is my fave) and maybe a little leftover chopped vegie, like broccoli, from the night before. I love steel cut oats and since they take 40 minutes, I make a big batch and throw it in a tupperware and then microwave portions throughout the week with a splash of milk added. I put nuts and some kind of fruit on mine, no sweetener.

Suzanne
Suzanne
9 years ago

Why is cooking so scary? I make the same breakfast every day – egg, sauage (microwavable), toast and fruit. Cooking takes 5-10 minutes, and eating takes 10 minutes, most of which I do while getting ready. It costs about $2 per day and is very healthy. Plus, the protein keeps me satisfied til lunch.

Adam P
Adam P
9 years ago
Reply to  Suzanne

While not the worst thing you can put in your body, a “microwaveable sausage” is right up there in terms of “processed meats” as they cause cancer, the sodium and saturated fat are probably sky high too. Eggs + (whole wheat) Toast + fruit you can make the healthy case for. Sausage? Not so much.

Suzanne
Suzanne
9 years ago
Reply to  Adam P

It’s one sausage patty, I doubt it’ll cause my untimely death. But sausage is a protein, and I don’t think it’s so over-processed. It’s pre-cooked and frozen.

Adam
Adam
9 years ago
Reply to  Suzanne

Eating processed meat every day could actually lead to your untimely death.

A study published in the journal Carcinogenesis concluded that consuming processed meat (e.g. microwave sausage patties) can increase the risk of developing colorectal polyps. (Cancer of the colon and rectum develops from polyps.)

MJ
MJ
9 years ago
Reply to  Suzanne

My understanding is that the processed meat meant in these studies is things like hot dogs, lunch meats, ham, etc. These have things like nitrites in them. Sausage meat doesn’t necessarily qualify, though you should check the label. I buy non-nitrite sausages and they’re basically ground meat with spices. The other component you want to watch out for is the fat content, but that’s also variable.

elisabeth
elisabeth
9 years ago

My dear husband eats the same breakfast everyday (greek yougurt with fruit), but I’m retired so can have a different breakfast everyday, though always with a plate of fruit that he makes before he goes to work and leaves for me. I didn’t see any mention of graham crackers, which are one of my spring and summer favorites, spread with peanut butter. I also like Kashi frozen waffles, which seem to have some nutrition. Make my own french toast or pancakes, and muffins (which, if you freeze them you can have in several flavors at one time and defrost at… Read more »

GJ
GJ
9 years ago

It doesn’t sound like McDonalds’ oatmeal should be encouraged for nutritional OR financial reasons:

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/22/how-to-make-oatmeal-wrong/?partner=rss&emc=rss

kms98kms
kms98kms
9 years ago

I make my own granola that I modified from a recipe I found in a book. It saves me so much money and is filling enough to get me through till lunch.

If I’m out (and haven’t made more) I usually eat oatmeal cold with raisins, honey and milk (something I did when I lived in Denmark).

Elayne
Elayne
9 years ago

I love quaker oats old fashion oatmeal and could eat it every day.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
9 years ago
Reply to  Elayne

So do I. And I do!

KM
KM
9 years ago

Coffee & cereal (cheerios)—quick, fast, & cheap. I usually add a slice of peanut butter toast when I get to work. My kids get fruit, microwave pancakes, and yogurt.

Paj
Paj
9 years ago

In the evening fill a bowl or tupperware with equal parts raw oats, yogurt and milk (or adjust to taste) and leave in the fridge overnight. In the morning, the oats will be perfectly “done” and ready to eat cold. Just add granola, nuts, fruit, peanut butter & jelly, etc. when time to eat. Great simple breakfast, which is especially delicious in the summertime when you don’t want to eat anything hot.

partgypsy
partgypsy
9 years ago

Put 3 cups of water, a little over 1 cup of steel cut oats, salt and a pat of butter in a pot on stove, heat till it’s boiling, turn it down to low and it’s ready in 25 minutes. I typically add cinnamon, honey and milk to it and it saves well for reheating the next day. On the weekends I either make pancakes or waffles (whole grain) and then freeze the remainder. Our kids love them and they are healthier and cheaper than store-bought versions. I do have to admit in addition to fruit we have gotten habit… Read more »

Sara
Sara
9 years ago

This was such a fun post — thanks, Donna! I pretty much rotate between instant oatmeal, yogurt (always purchased on super-sale), and bananas.

Procrastamom
Procrastamom
9 years ago

My morning salad:

-Handfull of baby spinach, washed
-1 banana
-Handfull of frozen fruit
-Fill the rest of cup with cold water

Blend in magic bullet til smooth and drink on the way to work. Sure, it’s green/brown and doesn’t LOOK appetizing, but wow is it tasty!

kelsey
kelsey
9 years ago

I’m always running late in the morning, so I take uncooked oatmeal in a container and eat breakfast at work. My work has a water cooler that also dispenses boiling water. It’s the best! Instant oats (and regular oats, often) cook in a minute or two, while I’m checking email.

Cely
Cely
9 years ago

I eat eggs every morning; they are fast and easy. 2 egg whites + 1 whole egg, a little fruit on the side, and a mug of green tea. It takes less than 10 minutes start to finish. If I didn’t have the 10 minutes I’d do yogurt with berries and nuts. Nowadays, many offices (mine included) stock free snacks for employees. It’s worth asking about, if your office doesn’t yet do it. A group of us banded together and put in a request for healthier snacks; that resulted in twice-monthly organic fruit delivery, as well as low-sugar energy bars… Read more »

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