>>Maybe it’s because by 7 -7:30 every one but me has to be out of the house, but our breakfast is always fresh bread and spreads, and you have what I’d call “fancy” and varied breakfast every day. Why? Wouldn’t you save time (and maybe expenses) by having only bread and bits for this meal?<<
I responded to this question in brief in the comments section, but wanted to bring it back up here since there are a couple of other issues that I didn’t respond to there.
It’s true that if saving time and money was my highest priority for breakfast, I could cook differently. For example, I can buy 50 lb of oats for under $25, and at that price I could easily serve oatmeal every day and spend less than $1 total for the entire family for breakfast! It doesn’t get much cheaper than that! And as I’ve written in the past, oatmeal can be a fast meal to prepare.
However, I see mealtimes in a slightly different way than just a time to fuel everyone as fast and cheaply as I can. Food has emotional power in addition to providing physical nourishment. When you eat foods that taste good, you tend to have positive associations surrounding the food. Making different foods that our children enjoy is an easy way to use the emotions associated with food to connect our children with us and one another when we sit down to eat.
Also, I’m sure everyone has noticed that there’s a widespread belief that healthy food isn’t appealing and the ‘good stuff’ is the typical fare that most Americans are eating. Along with that belief is the idea that having less to spend on food means being deprived. My kids don’t see other people eating or shopping like us. We rarely buy processed foods, and when we do, it’s the kind of processed food that most people consider wildly healthy, we integrate traditional principles of food preparation into all of our meals as a matter of course, and our food budget of $600 monthly (family of 11) is less than anyone I know.
Every time I serve a meal I have the opportunity to show my kids that healthy foods are delicious and not a reason to feel deprived; that’s daily mental programming towards their attitudes and outlook on food! And it’s working! Despite the fact that when kids feel different there’s a tendency to feel like the mainstream view is better and resent being put in the position of not being like everyone else, my kids feel happy to eat the way we do. They’ve told me (kids ages 10 and up) that when they were younger they thought their friends who could have frozen pizza three times a day were lucky, but now they see it differently.
Lastly, though I’ve often thought how much simpler my weekly menu planning would be if I just made the same things week in and week out, I enjoy the variety!