Breakfast on a Budget

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Despite the popularity of diet trends like intermittent fasting, which often advises skipping breakfast, there are plenty of reasons to continue to eat this first meal of the day.

Benefits of Breakfast:

Eating breakfast may help with weight control. A recent systematic review of 45 observational studies confirms that skipping breakfast is associated with an increased risk of overweight and obesity. 1 This is consistent with findings from the National Weight Control Registry. Participants with successful weight loss typically eat breakfast as part of their weight maintenance strategy. 2

In addition, rates of heart disease are higher in those who skip breakfast, according to a meta-analysis of case-control, cross-sectional, longitudinal, or cohort studies in 2019. Researchers suspect alterations in insulin and pro-inflammatory cytokines may impact the risk of atherosclerosis, particularly in men who skip breakfast. 3

Breakfast is also important to provide energy for learning, focus, and academic performance. A British study evaluating intake of consistent school-day breakfast with academic achievement indicates that regular breakfast eaters scored higher in math and English compared to non-breakfast eaters. 4 The USDA School Breakfast Program is designed to feed kids for better academic success.

Rising Food Costs:

Unfortunately, the cost of food may keep people from eating breakfast. Food costs have gone up for a handful of reasons. For starters, as oil prices rise due to the political crisis, the cost of food transport increases. In addition, byproducts of oil are used in fertilizer, raising prices for produce.

Climate change is also to blame for rising food costs. Extreme changes in weather lead to increased green gas emissions, droughts, and floods, which may damage crops. Increased meat consumption also raises prices for grains as most farm animals eat grains. The economy is still recovering from the pandemic as well.

According to the USDA Thrifty Food Plan, the monthly cost of food for a family of four went from $848.80 in September 2021 to $875 in January 2022. While that may not seem like a big difference, there’s no doubt we’re spending more at the grocery store. 5

Making Breakfast Affordable:

Breakfast doesn’t have to be expensive. Nutritious, delicious food can be made at home with a few tweaks. Take oatmeal for example. An 8-pack box of instant flavored oats costs roughly $3.00. With that convenience comes more sodium and added sugar as well. The cost of convenience is 38 cents per serving.

Rolled oats in the traditional 42-ounce cylinder provide 30 servings of oatmeal. The big difference? They’ll take 3 minutes in the microwave when cooked and cost about $2.50 for a store brand or $5 for 22 more servings of oats. Rolled oats ring in at 10 cents per serving!

Below is a simple breakfast recipe that won’t cost an arm and a leg:

Ginger Cinnamon Oats with Almonds:

  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped almonds


  1. In a medium glass bowl, combine the rolled oats, water, ground cinnamon, ginger, and brown sugar.
  2. Place the seasoned oatmeal in the microwave and cook on high for 3 minutes.
  3. Stir the chopped almonds in the cooked oatmeal and serve.

Makes 4 (1/2 cup) servings.

Other breakfast ideas under $1.00 per serving include:

  • 1 scrambled egg, 1 slice whole-wheat toast, 1 apple
  • Peanut butter sandwich on whole-grain bread and 1 banana
  • 5 ounces Greek yogurt (from a 32 oz. container), ½ cup frozen berries
  • Frozen whole-grain waffle with almond butter and 2 Clementines
  • 1 string cheese, 6 whole-grain crackers, 1 cup seasonal fruit

Stay tuned for more budget-friendly meals!

By Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD


  1. Ma X, Chen Q, Pu Y, Guo M, Jiang Z, Huang W, Long Y, Xu Y. Skipping breakfast is associated with overweight and obesity: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes Res Clin Pract. 2020 Jan-Feb;14(1):1-8.
  2. National Weight Control Registry (
  3. Takagi H, Hari Y, Nakashima K, Kuno T, Ando T; ALICE (All-Literature Investigation of Cardiovascular Evidence) Group. Meta-Analysis of Relation of Skipping Breakfast With Heart Disease. Am J Cardiol. 2019 Sep 15;124(6):978-986.
  4. Adolphus K, Lawton CL, Dye L. Associations Between Habitual School-Day Breakfast Consumption Frequency and Academic Performance in British Adolescents. Front Public Health. 2019 Nov 20;7:283.
  5. USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food Reports (monthly reports) | Food and Nutrition Service

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