By ERIN TURNER
Breakfast has been touted as the most important meal a person eats in a day.
It gets all your internal systems revved up for the day and it kicks your metabolism into high gear. Studies show that children who eat a well-balanced breakfast score better on tests and do better overall in school.
But breakfast is also one of those things which can be a burden.
Trying to get kids out the door on time is a challenge, and the thought of cooking breakfast while trying to drag kids out of bed, sign permission slips, and pack lunches is overwhelming. Plus, the cost of breakfast food can be a deterrent as well, which is why so many parents slip into the “bowl of cereal” rut.
Despite giving my mom grief about eating breakfast as a kid, I’m now so grateful for her persistence in not allowing us to leave the house without breakfast.
Now it’s my turn to be the “Breakfast Nazi”! Even though the school offers free breakfast in the classroom for all kids regardless of income, I still can’t send my kids to school without knowing they have had something healthy and nourishing. It’s a mom-thing, I guess!
But the challenge I face is finding breakfasts that are 1) healthy 2) frugal 3) quick and easy. I also try to vary the breakfasts so the kids don’t get bored or sick of one thing.
It has taken some time and lots of trial-and-error, but I finally feel I have a good grasp on breakfast and I don’t have to resort to cold cereal! In fact, I usually only serve cold cereal two times a month.
First of all, cereal is normally very expensive and I can only get it super cheap with coupons about once a year (less than $1.00).
Second of all, I don’t think cereal gives the kids the nutrition they really need and there is an awful lot of sugar and processing even in supposedly “healthy” boxes!
When it comes to breakfast, you really have to think outside of the box! Our society has become so accustomed to a certain slate of foods for breakfast that we have are missing out on other creative options.
What’s wrong with a PB&J sandwich for breakfast? Made on whole wheat and matched with a glass of milk and a piece of fruit, you’ve got a healthy, frugal, and quick meal which the kids will gobble down!
What about cheese and crackers along with a fruit salad? Just because you don’t find certain food on the breakfast menu at Denny’s doesn’t mean you can’t serve it to your family for breakfast!
Here is a list of some of the easy, frugal breakfasts I prepare:
- Breakfast Cake. If you want to be a hero in the eyes of your kids, serve this! We rarely have leftovers!
- PB&J on a hot dog bun with a banana in it. How fun is that?! Serve with a glass of milk and your kid will be doing slam dunks all day long.
- Eggs. We cook eggs in a variety of ways each week – in breakfast burritos, Eggs Benedict, hard boiled, etc. (Remember we raise chickens so we’ve got lots of eggs!)
- Veggie Browns.Use leftover veggies from dinner mixed in with hashbrowns. I add some cheese as well for some extra protein and calcium.
- Oatmeal/Cracked Wheat/Grits. Good old-fashioned comfort breakfast on a cold winter day is perfect! I make these with milk instead of water, which provides extra nutrition without a lot of extra cost. I also add peanut butter to the oatmeal, which is very tasty and really sticks to those boys’ ribs.
- Smoothies. I pack as much as I can into these puppies! Honey, eggs, wheat germ, veggies, fruit, oatmeal… It may sound weird, but they turn out yummy and the kids slurp them down. Fruit can be expensive, so my frugal tip for adding fruit to smoothies is to stock up on baby food when you’ve got coupons or it’s on sale. I got some great organic varieties at Target this spring for less than a dollar. Some of them even have brown rice added to them and that gives kids some extra fiber as well.
- Waffles and Pancakes. On a weekend, make up large batches of these and freeze them. Homemade are so much healthier than store-bought, plus you will save bundles making your own batches. My boys love these as a snack, too!
- French Toast. A great way to use up bread that is almost ready to go stale. French toast is quick and easy but the kids will think you slaved all morning.
- Yogurt. Watch the weekly grocery ads for super sales on yogurt and then stock up! I will stock up on yogurt when the price is less than 40 cents. Although, I have fallen in love with Greek yogurt, so my yogurt budget has changed in order to accommodate this new obsession! I buy the plain variety and then drizzle it with our honey and sprinkle either some granola or flaxseed on it – yummy! (I also use plain Greek yogurt now instead of sour cream.)
These are just a few of the cheap and easy breakfasts that I serve to my family. None of them take a whole lot of time and none of them are very expensive, but I find them to be healthy fuel for my sons as they start their busy days.
Giving them that good start each morning is an investment I’m willing to make because I know it will give them a lifetime of healthy habits!
Erin’s got tons of tips for saving money, couponing, and sticking to a budget in her previous posts: Frugal Living: 25 Money-Saving Uses for the Humble Coffee Filter, Frugal Living: Grow Your Own Food and Save Money, and Frugal Living: Eat Tapas, Cut Your Grocery Bill. Be sure to check out the Missoula Save it Club.
Erin Eisenman-Turner is proud to be a native Missoulian. Along with her husband and three sons, they raise chickens, pigs, rabbits, and vegetables at Turner Family Farms in the Orchard Homes area. When the farm chores are done, the coupons clipped, and the blog written, you can find Erin exploring Montana, collecting antiques, and trying to maintain a well-run, happy, and organized home for her family.