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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Healthy and Hearty Breakfasts the Frugal Way

It’s very tempting to eat out for breakfast when you are in a rush because of an early class (or a late night studying) and you are famished.  However, breakfast food is cheap and it breaks my heart to spend $7+ for breakfast when you should be able to make it at home – fast – for a few pennies (or nickels now that we are doing away with pennies).  Here are a few ideas.
Oatmeal: I’m all for instant oatmeal because it’s fast; however, it’s high in sugar and not so healthy.  If you use only half a package of instant oatmeal (the flavoured type), add the same amount of plain quick cook oatmeal, milk (not water) and you microwave it, it’s much healthier.
Eggs: eggs a fantastic source of cheap protein.  However, cooking them in the morning is tough since it makes a mess in the pan and it takes time.  Another option is to cook ahead of time your eggs when you do have time.  My favorite recipe is ‘egg in a hole’; you make a hole in a slice of bread (eat the small piece of bread); prepare a pan like you would for cooking eggs (melt butter, etc.); place the piece of bread in the pan and add the eggs (with intact yolk, or scrambled) by pouring it over the hole (yes, part of the egg will leak under the bread, but a large amount will cook in the hole, in the bread and around the bread).  You can batch cook these, especially if you scramble the eggs.  The advantage of this dish is that your bread is cooked with the egg – easily reheated in the microwave on a rush morning.
Pancakes: I love pancakes, and I’m often too lazy to make them from scratch.  I buy the complete mix (to which you only add water – no eggs, no milk) which is cheaper by portion since you only add water.  To make my pancakes healthier, I add a bit of plain oatmeal (regular or instant – whatever I have) and some wheat bran (which I use in other recipes so it’s on hand as well).  If I want more crepes than pancakes, I add more water to make the batter thinner.  Easily cooked in batches, I save the leftovers in a container in the fridge and microwave in the morning.  Real maple syrup is expensive on a student budget; if you can’t handle the fake stuff, go with jam, PB or chocolate sauce instead.  If you are having crepes, savory topping are great too: grated cheese, ham, etc.
If you have more time and love to cook: of course, if you have time to spare once a while, you can prepare breakfast burritos, egg XXmuffins, etc. to freeze and reheat later.  Frittatas and quiches are also great breakfast food.  If you enjoy baking, even if it’s only the cake mixes, you can whip a batch of oatmeal or bran muffins (from a mix) and either offer some to your friends or freeze in groups of what you would eat in a day (for me it’s two: one for breakfast, one as a snack).
Leftovers: we often think of breakfast foods as toasts or other starches, eggs, and perhaps cheese and ham.  However, any food you enjoy in the morning is breakfast!  Cold pizza, left-over pasta, anything goes!
Continental breakfast: if you are typically in a real rush and can’t be bothered to cook ahead of time, there is always continental breakfast: stock the fridge with small yogurts and partition dry cereal in small bags.  In the morning, grab a banana, a yogurt and cereal – a complete breakfast!!
Bon appetit!

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