Once you accept that breakfast is an everyday occurrence, it makes less sense to improvise each time like you didn't know it was coming. Why rush through a greasy diner or dingy fast-food place on your way to work? Here are five ways you can spend less and get more from breakfast by planning ahead:

Don't skip it. But if you bypass breakfast, it's free, right? Yes, but then you're starving by lunchtime and more likely to overeat and overpay for fatty, salty foods to quell the pangs. Odds are you'll save yourself several dollars a day by eating a small breakfast and small lunch rather than one big meal at midday.

Make breakfast at home, and stock up on off-brands of what you'll need. If you eat yogurt, fruit or a bowl of plain oatmeal, your breakfast could cost less than a dollar a day. Buy the largest available containers of oats, cereal, yogurt, milk, orange juice or whatever else, and try to get off-brands when possible. That small amount of preparation can save you lots of money in the long run and provide you with obvious, daily alternatives to a fast-food run.


Eat oatmeal. Oats are cheap and easy to make. With the right additions, you can create a superbreakfast for less than $2 a day. Here's how:

  • Buy a 42-ounce container of quick-cooking oats. If that costs $5 (store brands are usually closer to $3), that's less than $0.18 per bowl — the suggested serving size is about 1.5 ounces, which means you can get 28 bowls, almost a month's supply, from this one container.
  • Buy a gallon of milk (about $3; feel free to substitute soy or rice milk, too). The 16 cups in that gallon will yield about 16 bowls of oatmeal at $0.19 each. That's less than $0.40 so far per bowl of plain oatmeal.
  • Throw in some berries and walnuts and each bowl still costs only about $2. With that you get dietary fiber from the oats and berries; antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids and protein from the walnuts; more antioxidants and vitamins from the berries; and more protein, as well as calcium, from the milk.
Buy berries frozen instead of fresh. Frozen berries are cheaper and no less healthy. In some cases — such as wild blueberries, which have the most antioxidants but are hard to find fresh — they may even be better for you. Their main advantage, however, is that you're unlikely to waste any since they're frozen; fresh berries may go bad after a week or so. Just thaw the frozen berries in the microwave or by leaving them in the refrigerator overnight.

Do more of the work. You can get food without preservatives and excess packaging if you go closer to the source or make it yourself. This only works if you have enough time, but getting freshly sliced meats from the butcher, baking your own breads or buying local produce from farmer's markets can lower your food budget and your carbon footprint. If you're endowed with a green thumb, try taking it a step further and growing your own fruits and vegetables in your back yard.

Also on MNN:

How to green your breakfast: Worst foods

How to green your breakfast: Best foods

How to green your breakfast: Top 5 tips