Cheap, Quick Homemade Breakfasts

by Julie Rains on 16 September 2011 7 comments
Photo: Jarred Elrod

I’m not a morning person, but that doesn’t mean I skip breakfast. Because I am slow-moving in the a.m., though, I don’t like to take a lot of time to eat before launching my day. So, I have discovered some quick-to-fix, simple-to-eat breakfasts that are nutritious and cheap, ranging in price from 50 cents to a couple of bucks. (See also: 25 Frugal Food Changes You Can Make Today)

Here are ideas for the morning meal.

Fruit and Yogurt Smoothies

My mainstay smoothie is made with bananas, blueberries, yogurt, orange juice, and milled flax seed of variable quantities, blended to drinkable form in a blender. By keeping peeled bananas and blueberries in my freezer and the remaining ingredients in the refrigerator, I always have a fast breakfast at my fingertips.

Alter the recipe for your preferences (or mood) using this basic formula:

  • 1 1/2 cups of fruit, fresh or frozen: banana, blueberries, pineapple, mango, strawberries, raspberries, etc.
  • 3/4 cup dairy or dairy-like substance: plain or flavored yogurt, ice cream, sherbet, milk, soymilk.
  • 3/4 cup juice: orange juice, apple juice, or juice blend.
  • 2 tbsp of add-ins: milled flax seed, whey protein, wheat germ, antioxidant powder, etc.

This breakfast has been great for pre-workout or pre-race meals as well as recovery snacks (I store a glass of leftover smoothie in the refrigerator). To make an ultra-frugal smoothie, use homemade yogurt.

Approximate preparation time and per serving cost: Five minutes and $1.50 – $2.00, depending on size of smoothie.

Eggs

For a cheap meal packed with protein, eggs are a great option. A simple way to prepare just one egg quickly is to pour a cracked egg (yoke intact) into a frying pan coated with oil or butter. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook on medium heat until the egg white is cooked to your liking.

If you want to add some variety to your egg dish, cook an omelet or try one of these meals.

Scrambled Eggs

A basic meal is scrambled eggs, possibly with whole wheat toast. Crack a couple of eggs in a bowl, scramble with a fork, add some milk (a couple of tablespoons will do, though I never measure; use yogurt if you have run out of milk), season with salt and pepper, and place in a frying or omelet pan with butter or butter-equivalent like Smart Balance. Cook on medium heat. When the eggs start to solidify, scramble them some more; repeat until the eggs are cooked, being careful not to let them cook too long.

Embellish the eggs with cheese; veggies like mushrooms, green peppers, and onions (sautéed the night before and reheated in the pan before cooking the eggs); and/or hot sauce if you are daring.

Egg Sandwich

For a hearty meal that my teenage son especially likes, place scrambled eggs on a toasted and buttered whole wheat bagel, top with cheese, and serve like a sandwich. Substitute an English muffin or regular toast for the bagel if you are interested in a lighter but still substantial meal. Get the bagels and/or English muffins during regular BOGO sales at the grocery store to keep costs down for the sandwich.

Approximate preparation time and per serving cost: Eight minutes and $.75 for eggs alone, or $1.25-$1.50 for extra veggies or sandwich.

Egg Casserole

To feed a crowd of six to eight people, make an egg casserole. Assemble the night before and bake in the morning. This option requires planning, but active preparation time in the morning is minimal (baking time is about an hour). You'll need the following ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 lb. bulk pork sausage, browned, crumbled, and drained
  • 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 slices of bread, cut up in cubes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Cooking spray or butter to grease baking dish

Place bread in greased 9"x13"baking dish. Layer sausage and cheese on top of bread. Beat eggs and combine with milk and salt, then pour over sausage, cheese, and bread. Refrigerate over night. Remove from refrigerator in the morning 15 minutes before baking; bake at 350°F for 45 minutes or until done.

For variations, substitute half-and-half for milk, add spices such as parsley and dry mustard, and include sautéed veggies such as green onions, peppers, and mushrooms.

For a slow-cooker egg casserole recipe, check out Thursday's post on fast, inexpensive breakfasts.

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Breakfast Bars and Breads

Try some homemade treats with some healthy ingredients. These bars and breads are great for on-the-go meals. Grab a bite before you leave for the day; or wrap them up and enjoy with a cup of coffee, milk, or juice after you have arrived at work or school.

Granola Bars

Many of the healthy recipes for breakfast bars that I've tried had the consistency and flavor of cardboard, but I did find one that I liked and seemed reasonably nutritious. Though this chewy granola bar recipe does not specify the type of oats, I used old-fashioned rolled oats rather than instant or quick-cooking kind for excellent results. I added dried apricots (cut up) and substituted dark chocolate for the regular chocolate chips or M&M’s.

For a cookie that uses similar ingredients, check out Myscha's breakfast oatmeal cookie.

Zucchini Bread

My favorite sweet-bread recipe (snagged from a bread-making class at the community college) makes a great quick breakfast or snack.

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups zucchini, grated
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp each salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg

Beat together eggs, oil, sugar, and vanilla. Add zucchini and applesauce. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices. Add to first mixture. Pour in bread pans (three medium-sized or four small pans) and bake in 350°F oven for 40 minutes. Test center for doneness and bake more if needed.

Usually I use a few zucchini for this recipe. If I don't have enough zucchini, I add more applesauce to make up the difference. If I have too much zucchini, then I use less applesauce. For a yummy variation, I substitute butternut squash for the zucchini. To prepare the squash, place it in a casserole dish filled with some water (about halfway up the side), cook in a 350°F oven until fork tender on all sides (rotate the squash for even baking), remove pulp from cooked squash, and use mashed pulp instead of grated zucchini.

Bagels With Specialty Spreads

To make a specialty spread, soften cream cheese and mix one or more of the following in the cheese: honey, chopped walnuts or pecans, or fruit spread (jam, jelly, etc.). Spread on bagels for a made-at-home treat.

Approximate morning preparation time and per serving cost: A couple of minutes and $.50–$1.00.

Leftovers and Throw-Togethers

Many people like leftovers for breakfast. These may be traditional lunch or dinner meals like homemade pizza or sweet treats like dessert. Peruse your refrigerator or kitchen counter for already-prepared meals or key ingredients for a new dish. Here are a couple of my favorites in this style.

Fruit Crisp

To make this dish for a dinnertime dessert, place fruit in baking dish (I use blueberries, cherries, or apples), top with a combination of butter, oats, flour, and brown sugar; and bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes. In the morning, reheat a portion or eat cold, alone or with yogurt.

Yogurt Parfait

Layer chopped-up breakfast bars from chewy granola bar recipe (or granola) with yogurt, and fresh or frozen fruit in a parfait.

Approximate preparation time and per serving cost: A couple of minutes to reheat and/or assemble the meal, and less than $1.00.

What's your favorite fast and frugal homemade breakfast?

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Guest's picture
Greg

Every day for breakfast I eat yogourt, berries, and home made granola. It's easy, healthy and delicious.

Eating eggs is definitely an inexpensive way for breakfast, you should be limiting yourself to no more than 2 eggs a week due to the cholesterol. A great alternative is using egg whites. Just as good and packed with protein.

Julie Rains's picture

Thanks for the tips. I know that the yogurt parfait (yogurt, berries/fruit, and granola) is getting popular at restaurants so I put that on my list. Usually, though I don't necessarily go to the trouble of creating a great presentation and just mix them together, which is sounds like you do. Sometimes I use organic Muesli as a substitute for granola.

It is good to note that you should follow dietary restrictions. Some people need to avoid things with sugar, for example but hopefully there is something for everyone here. One of the benefits of a homemade breakfast to avoiding some not-so-good-for-you stuff that can be added in from items at the grocery store or restaurant.

Plus, here is some more info on eggs: http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/egg-nutrition

Meg Favreau's picture

I make homemade granola too! It sounds cheesy, but sometimes when I'm going to bed I get excited to eat breakfast the next morning. The granola is just so good!

Guest's picture
Samantha

Eggs don't cause high cholesterol. It's an urban legend. Eggs naturally contain a certain chemical that prevents their cholesterol from being absorbed by a body (I forgot it's exact name . All is on the web). They are perfectly safe to eat.

For example, people with high cholesterol who start a low-carb diet eat eggs every day all day long. Their cholesterol gets to normal levels pretty quick...Eggs are not bad. They are the best food for humans because they contain a good balance of protein, and fat.

I eat eggs practically every day and my cholesterol levels are excellent...

Guest's picture
Yazmin

Love your suggestions. I like oatmeal in the morning when it's cold. When it's hot, I go for Muesli with cold milk. A pb&j sandwich is also tasty!

Myscha Theriault's picture

Good one, Julie! While we're breakfast fans at this house, we normally only have time to make the labor-intensive breakfasts we love at dinner time. Anything healthy and easy in the morning works for us, and these ideas will give us something else to try along with our smoothies and oatmeal. Thanks!

Guest's picture
Guest

Cooked left-over Jasmine Rice with milk, butter & salt & pepper, heated up in the microwave. Fruit smoothies with protien powder, Hot oatmeal with jam stirred in; but my favorite ( and NOT time consuming...) is home made pancakes and eggs.

I keep the dry ingrediants mixed and measured in bags suited for the size of my household; then mix the wet stuff in ....doesn't take alot of time. I set a cast iron griddle on medium heat when I first walk into the kitchen, so by the time the batter is ready, so is the pan.

It's all in the ORGANIZATION!