Couldn’t breakfast be cheaper?

>>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!


10 thoughts on “Couldn’t breakfast be cheaper?

  1. I personally do eat the same things in and out, because I have medical issues and they are controlled by diet. And that includes oatmeal every morning. I personally find it easier to rotate through a set of the same recipes, adding seasonal fruit and veg, but it drives my husband absolutely nuts.

    My mother cooks “fancy” breakfasts regularly and, if you do it often, it becomes fairly simple and fast.

    1. Ironically, Meg, I eat almost the same thing every morning as well (different from what is on the menu plan for my family). For me personally I’m happy having the same basic food all the time but I learned years ago that not all of my family members feel the same! And once I’m already spending the time cooking something more involved (I’m personally happy with a scrambled egg and carrot sticks), it might as well be different and interesting!

      You’re right that cooking more involved breakfasts doesn’t have to be a big production. We don’t have the time to spend an hour in the kitchen every morning, and often breakfasts are prepped the night before or even prepared the night before (if it’s something like muffins).

  2. Also, when I lived in Tuscany, I ate like my host family. Most adults didn’t have anything but espresso on a weekday morning, but there was bread, jam, butter and tea for the children. I found that I was hungry within an hour eating a meal like that.

    1. Wouldn’t anyone be hungry after nothing but expresso?! I find that including abundant amounts of good fats in whatever I make for breakfast is key in keeping everyone feeling satisfied until lunch.

      1. I would eat bread and jam with my host mother’s children. I would be so hungry after a morning of classes that I finally sought out peanut butter (I found teeny tiny jars of Skippy in a gourmet foods shop for an exorbitant sum; I understand peanut butter is a uniquely American food) and started eating panut butter and jelly sandwiches in the morning, much to the utter bafflement of my host mother.

  3. I see your point. Maybe my view is slightly different since breakfast is the only meal the whole family gets to sit together (most days…) and that in itself is a major component of the meal! We all love bread (fresh form the bread maker- who wouldn’t?) and we have many different spreads that make up for variety.
    I do serve oatmeal from time to time, but while it is cheaper , find we go hungry faster (let’s not even talk about cornflakes…)
    The amazing thing though, is that my kids’ teachers are usually in shock (!!!) when they hear that I have children who have a full meal before leaving the house. Turns out that most kids go to (pre)school without eating anything but a small biscuit or yoghurt and have their first meal of the day well after 10 in the morning.
    As for teaching my children that healthy rhymes with yummy- I use the other meals of the day for this purpose, and am happy to say that they try explaining to their own friends why the way we eat is better for them- and good too.

    1. It sounds to me like you’re doing great, Nathalie! It’s a big challenge sitting everyone down for breakfast before needing to be out of the house early in the morning; probably that’s why so many people don’t! :(

      It’s very unfortunate on a number of levels that it’s becoming increasingly uncommon for a family to sit down daily for a meal together.

  4. I was trying to explain to a new friend last night how changing the way our family eats has in fact changed our family in a deep way. The nourishment of the food, the care and thought put into our meals has served the same purpose for our souls and we have benefitted beyond tangible health measurements. I am going to forwrad this post to her b/c you encapsulate so well what Iwas trying to say.

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