Friday, November 13, 2015

Frugal Fridays: Cheaper Breakfasts In a Hurry

Last week, I tackled why you (and I!) should stop buying coffee (that post here).  Even when it's 7:30 and you needed to be on the road 10 minutes ago to drop your kids off before you have to get to work.  It's all about planning ahead and setting yourself up for success.  And the same goes for breakfasts.  How many of you cannot resist the call of the McMuffin (especially as you line up for your morning cup?)? Or worse, how many of you have just gone without the "most important meal of the day?"

Thing is:  we know we should eat breakfast. . . and we know that anything we make ourselves at home is going to be cheaper and healthier (and way more delicious) than anything we buy on the go.  But it doesn't always happen.  All we can do is set ourselves up for success - it's easier to stick to a plan if it's foolproof. . . and to actually eat your breakfast if it's ready and waiting for you (and more appetizing than a baggie full of Cheerios - not that I don't like Cheerios but I digress).

Here are some delicious ideas to feed yourself (and your family, if you have one) quickly, relatively easily and cheaply in the morning!  They run the gamut from ready-to-eat, to handheld, to minimal prep in the AM. . . and I've tried almost all of them.  Most are ovo-lacto vegetarian (that means they include eggs and/or dairy) but some are vegan and others can be easily veganized or meatified if that's your thing.  Personally, I find breakfast is the easiest meal to make meatless and cutting back on your meat intake can save you a ton of cash (upcoming post alert!). If you have Pepperplate, you can add these recipes to your collection with the click of a button (and here's why I love Pepperplate)!
1.  Make and Freeze
There's little that is more glorious to me than a warm, hearty breakfast - especially one I can hold in my hand as I rush out the door.  But store-bought freezer breakfasts can be really high in sodium and calories. . . not to mention high-cost.  If you don't own a large chest freezer (or a stand-up one) and you have space for it, it can be well worth the investment! Not only do the recipes in this category freeze well (since they're supposed to be frozen), but you can also prep and freeze many of the recipes I've included in the other categories as well - put together slow cooker ingredients in large freezer bags, label and freeze then defrost and use as directed; individually wrap baked goods and freeze, remove from freezer the night before and set out next to your travel mug - easy!

2.  Your Slow Cooker - Not Just for Pot Roasts!
Do you have a slow cooker? Dust it off and get cooking - breakfast! Don't have one? They can be relatively inexpensive and are true miracle workers in your kitchen.  If you're a meat-eater, I hear they can turn cheap cuts of meat into delicious meals.  If you're not into meat so much (like me), they can turn dried beans into the best beans you've never eaten out of a can (you'll never go back, I promise!). . . with minimal effort.  And there are a whole lot of soups, stews, jams, etc. that can be made cheaply and easily in a slow cooker.

3.  Overnight Eats
So you don't have a slow cooker and don't want to buy one? Here are some ideas for overnight eats that don't require one - or cooking at all! Just throw together your ingredients the night before and stick it in the fridge.  Bonus hipster points for using a mason jar ;)
  • Chia Pudding - Full disclosure:  I can not eat chia.  I tried.  We didn't get along :( But if you can eat chia, there are a ton of overnight recipes for you! And the most popular is the chia pudding.  The base recipe is 3 tbsp chia seeds and 1 cup of non-dairy milk (I suppose you could use regular milk too but this is usually a vegan thing).  Add whatever flavourings, toppings, etc. that you like.  Combine and let sit in the fridge overnight, top as you like.  The texture is similar to a tapioca pudding when it's done.  Here's a Tropical Coconut version (from GI 365) that looks delicious.
  • Overnight Oats - there are a ton of recipes out there.  Basically, I do this:  equal parts of oats and milk / alternative milk, mix and refrigerate overnight.  You can add spices, sweeteners, jams or dried fruits if you like.  And you can top it with fruit, etc. in the morning too.  Heat it up or eat it cold - delicious either way.  So easy! And so cheap!  Here's a Peanut Butter Overnight Oats recipe (from Minimalist Baker) that looks great - just leave out the chia if you have issues with it too.
  • Or try another grain - why not Overnight Maple Buckwheat in a Jar (from Citron Limette)?
  • Parfait - why pay someone to do it? Layer yogurt, fruit and granola in a jar or other container and refrigerate! You could also add in nuts, seeds, jam, coconut, whatever makes you happy! No dairy? No problem! Here's a Coconut-Cardamon Vegan Parfait (from Oh She Glows) that uses overnight oats instead of yogurt - and you can skip the jam recipe and sub one of your own if you can't do chia.

4.  Weekend Baking
I love a muffin, scone or breakfast bread with my coffee.  They're also really easy to grab on the go.  But the ones at a fast food place or in the grocery store are loaded with calories. . . and can be really expensive - why spend over $1 per muffin when you can make a dozen using things you probably already have in your pantry (or can pick up cheaply)? Spend under an hour of your weekend and make enough breakfasts to last a few weeks - just wrap and freeze! Dust off your muffin pan (or pick one up - they're cheap) and pre-heat your oven, let's do this!

5.  Some Assembly Required
Some people love smoothies in the morning. . . I don't always have time to make them or the desire to do so.  When I do have time to spare, here are a few recipes that take a couple minutes to assemble.  Besides smoothies.
  • Smoothies - Okay, let's get this out the way.  There are approximately 8,367,423 recipes for smoothies on the internet.  They're all basically variations of this:  milk/alternative milk/juice/yogurt  + fruits/veggies + flavourings (spices, honey, peanut butter, whatever) + nutritional additives (protein, chia, flax, etc.).  Put in blender.  Blend.  Drink.  Oh, and some include ice cubes.  If they're your thing, I'm sure you already have a go-to recipe.  If they're not but you want to try them, try following the "recipe" above using what you like.  Want a banana-berry smoothie? A green, spinach-based one that tastes like apple? A peanut butter-chocolate one? Go nuts!
  • Dark Cherry Smoothie Bowl (from Downshiftology) - we planted two cherry trees; I'm collecting recipes :) Plus, a smoothie you eat with a spoon sounds decadent.
  • Smoked Salmon and Egg Bagels (from Serious Eats) - don't have time to scramble an egg? try the baked ones above instead! Also delicious with an herb-flavoured cream cheese :)
  • DIY McMuffins (from Squawkfox) - or you could try the baked eggs if you like.  I'm also going to try freezing these and will report back on my success (or failure).
  • Bacon and Eggs in a Jar (from Mason Jar Breakfast) - eggs in the microwave? I'll try it.  Skip the bacon if you prefer.  Add more veggies.  This is a great technique!

6.  We're Jammin'
Way cheaper than store-bought jams! Also more delicious and easier than you think.  Even if you don't want to can/process the jam, most of these freeze well in a bag or Tupperware (and some are even intended to freeze).  Awesome with muffins, scones, toast, whatever!
*Like what you see? Be sure to bookmark this page as I'll be updating it with new recipes from time to time.  I'll also include the results of my freezer experiments :)

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