Mornings can be chaotic, even for the most organized families. When you're trying to get the kids washed, dressed and ready for school, then preparing for your own busy day, you don't want to tackle a complicated, expensive breakfast meal. Some favorite breakfast foods offer easy, cheap solutions to the morning madness. A bit of planning and purchasing helps you avoid the a.m. rush without emptying your pocketbook.
Protein is an essential part of a healthy diet. Eggs provide a protein-rich, yet inexpensive, source of energy for your family. As a general rule, one large egg is equivalent to one ounce of meat, fish or poultry. If you’re watching your family’s cholesterol intake, just use the whites -- they contain most of the protein and none of the cholesterol. Make a fun breakfast sandwich by frying an egg into a hole cut in a slice of whole wheat bread. Add a sprinkle of low-fat cheese or some cut, diced veggies to scrambled eggs. Use a few beaten eggs to hold together a casserole made with cheese, torn slices of stale bread, milk, diced tomatoes and mushrooms. Make this handy breakfast casserole ahead of time and freeze it until it's needed.
Dairy products also provide protein, along with calcium, but cost less than most meats. Create a fast and healthy breakfast smoothie by combining milk, plain yogurt, a handful of berries and a squeeze of honey in the blender. To cut down on calories and fat, choose low-fat or nonfat milk and yogurt. Kids will enjoy a striped yogurt parfait made by layering yogurt, fruit and granola in a clear cup. Make them the night before to store in the fridge until breakfast. Save money by purchasing large tubs of yogurt that contain several servings, rather than single-serving sizes. When using cheese in a recipe, stretch your dollars by shredding it finely and sprinkling on less. Use a sharp variety, because it tends to have a stronger flavor; you won’t need to use as much to get the same effect.
Most Americans don’t consume enough fiber, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Whole grain foods contain fiber and work well in easy, inexpensive breakfast dishes. For a quick, high-protein, high-fiber meal that kids can eat on the way to school, slather peanut butter on a whole-grain English muffin or between two slices of toasted whole-wheat bread. If you have a bit more time, microwave a whole-wheat tortilla for a few seconds, then fill it with a scrambled egg and a sprinkle of cheese or salad dressing mix for flavor. Save money by purchasing generic or store brand bread when it’s on sale.
Many kids love super-sweet cereals and oatmeal, but these pack a punch in terms of sugar, calories, additives and price. Make your own healthy, cheap breakfast by adding low-fat milk and a handful of berries or banana slices to a bowl of low-sugar, store-brand, whole-grain cereal. Satisfy your family’s sweet tooth by adding a squeeze of honey or agave syrup. Make flavored instant oatmeal at a fraction of the price by adding a half-cup of quick oats to plastic zip-top sandwich bags. Let your kids be part of the process when they add additional ingredients to the packets, such as cinnamon, chopped dried fruits, brown sugar, raisins and baking cocoa. When you’re ready to cook your oatmeal, add a cup of water or milk and microwave for a few minutes or until the oats are soft.
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- Iowa State University Extension; All About Eggs Inexpensive Egg Protein; Peggy Martin; August 2010
- Iowa State University Extension; What’s a Good Buy? Milk; Peggy Martin; August 2010
- Harvard School of Public Health: Fiber: Start Roughing It
- Iowa State University Extension; Make Your Own Instant Oatmeal Packets; Renee Sweers; July 2008
- Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images