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How to Eat a Healthy Breakfast on a Low-Income Budget

Heather writes about food and how it helps us have a healthy lifestyle.

A healthy breakfast can be economical too.

A healthy breakfast can be economical too.

Finding ways to eat well without spending extra money has become more challenging. But with some planning, you can find all sorts of delicious ways to stick to your budget during the morning meal.

A healthy breakfast with staying power includes sources of protein, carbohydrates, and dairy. They provide your body with a variety of vitamins and minerals for a satisfying start to the day.

Stocking your shelves with some low-cost staples is a great first step—having supplies on hand makes it that much easier to work within your budget.

Some Low-Cost Breakfast Ingredients To Mix and Match

  1. Peanut Butter (around $2.75 per jar): It's an old standby for convenient protein. Just be aware of the fat content and stick to only 2 Tablespoons for each serving to avoid extra calories.
  2. Breakfast Bars (around $2.50 for an 8-bar box): Look for bars with at least 4 grams of Dietary fiber, and for flavors with dried fruit (raisins, cherries, apricots) for an extra vitamin boost.
  3. Cheese (between $2 and $3 per container or block): Mix mild cottage cheese with fruit, or melt grated sharp cheddar onto your eggs. Either way, you'll get protein—and you can find low-fat versions of each type.
  4. Cereals (ranges from $3-$4 depending on the box size): Some of the simplest and least expensive kinds, like Cheerios, Chex and Raisin Bran (and store-brand equivalents), have always included grains in their recipes. Now, makers are offering all sorts of fortified varieties. Check the label—the first ingredients should be grains, preferably whole.
  5. Honey (around $4 per jar): Long recognized as a healthy addition to any recipe, honey has become more affordable in the local grocery store. Invest in a small jar, and add a drizzle—a little goes a long way!
  6. Salsa (around $2.50 per jar): You might think of salsa going along with tortilla chips instead of eggs. But salsa adds both the nutrition of tomatoes, green peppers and onions, and a spiciness that will wake up your taste buds!

3 Budget-Friendly Breakfast Ideas

Check out how easy it is to pull together an inexpensive meal that'll rev you up for the morning. Take these basic ideas and add your own flair to them!

Oatmeal with milk and fruit provides complex carbs and fiber.

Oatmeal with milk and fruit provides complex carbs and fiber.

Combo #1

  • Oatmeal with Applesauce, walnuts and cinnamon
  • Milk

Cost? About $1.01 per serving.

IngredientCost per servingServing Size

Oatmeal

$.15

1/2 cup

Applesauce

$.20

1/2 cup

Walnuts

$.36

2 Tbsp

Cinnamon

$.11

1 tsp

Milk

$.19

1 cup

Applesauce

Apples contain fiber, vitamin C and antioxidant nutrients. It's often on sale and keeps a long time, so buy a large jar and store it in the fridge. Choose unsweetened to avoid a lot of extra unnecessary sugar.

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Oatmeal

One serving offers 16% of the daily fiber recommendation, except for the Instant variety. Opt for "quick" oats, which only take a minute to cook.

Walnuts

Nuts are a great source of omega-3 acids that are good for your heart, and Vitamin B3 for your digestive system. Two tablespoons will bring you the benefits without adding too many calories.

Milk

Skim has the lowest calorie count, but if that's too thin for you, try 1% low-fat.

Combo #2

  • Wheat Bagel with Almond Butter and Banana slices
  • Milk

Cost? About $1.05.

IngredientCost Per ServingServing Size

Wheat bagel

$.23

1 small bagel

Almond Butter

$.40

2 tbsp

Banana

$.23

1 piece

Milk

$.19

1 cup

Bagels

You'll find the best buy in the grocery store's freezer case: smaller-sized bagels keep your portion size down. The whole wheat variety gives you more grain than plain or cinnamon ones.

Almond Butter

For just a bit more than buying a jar of pre-made, you can make your own healthy nut butter. For Almond, just buy a small bag of whole or sliced nuts. Put them into your food processor or blender and run until the nuts are chopped about 2 minutes. Then, stir in canola oil by the teaspoon until you have the desired consistency. Add a small pinch of salt and sugar if desired.

Banana

A source of potassium, magnesium and vitamin B6, bananas are also some of the cheapest fresh fruits around. Unless you like them under-ripe, don't buy them green. Keep them on your counter in a plastic bag, using them right away for snacks and meals.

Combo #3

  • Yogurt and Fruit Smoothie with Toast
Fruit or vegetable smoothies are a delicious way to get fiber and antioxidants.

Fruit or vegetable smoothies are a delicious way to get fiber and antioxidants.

Cost? About $1.49.

IngredientCost Per ServingServing Size

Yogurt

$.85

1 container (6 oz)

Canned Fruit

$.45

1/2 cup

Toast

$.19

1 slice

Yogurt

Store brands are often the best bargain, whether for regular or Greek-style. Get plain—you can add the flavors you like and regulate the sugar and fat.

Canned Fruit

Peaches, pears, mangoes, pineapples, and so many more fruits are available now on store shelves. Look for the label to say "packed in light syrup" which has less sugar than the heavy kind, or even better, buy packed in fruit juice.

Bread

Whole-grain is much healthier—unfortunately, it can be pricier by at least $1. Instead, look for fortified whole wheat, white, or Italian loaves.

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