When you’re on a budget, breakfast is one of the best meals to save some cash, because a lot of classic breakfast ingredients can be bought frozen or in bulk. If weight loss or maintenance is on your agenda at the moment, you probably want your first meal of the day to be calorie-conscious, as well. That’s why we asked dietitians to share some of their favorite, go-to breakfasts that won’t break the bank and will set you up for a day of healthy eating.
Oats are a power player in the breakfast game thanks to the fact they’re super inexpensive, can be purchased in large quantities, and last a long time in your pantry. “It’s more budget-friendly to buy the canister of oats instead of the packets,” explains Regina Gill, a registered dietitian. “Another good reason to buy oats in the canister is that there is no added sugar, much like you find in the flavored packets.”
Overnight oats can be made in big batches for the week ahead, and you can really get creative with what you add to them, Gill says. “My suggestion is adding your milk of choice (low-fat milk or unsweetened plant-based milk), cinnamon and fruit, like berries, for sweetness. Oats have a ton of health benefits such as lots of fiber, which will help keep you feeling fuller longer and may help lower cholesterol.”
GREEK YOGURT PARFAIT
“Greek yogurt is by far, one of my top budget-friendly and low-calorie foods to recommend to clients,” says Lauren Pimentel, a registered dietitian. “The 0% variety has 90 calories, zero grams of fat, and a whopping 17 grams of protein per 3/4 cup serving. It’s perfect for feeling satiated while cutting back on calories, and you can find a 32-ounce container for just $3.47!”
Her go-to breakfast option using this ingredient: make-ahead yogurt parfaits, which can be prepared the night before. First, add 3/4 cup of 0% Greek yogurt to a small bowl or jar. Then add a layer (about 1 cup) of fruit such as chopped melons, mixed berries or seedless grapes. Pimentel recommends avoiding apples and bananas, as they tend to brown. Next, add 1/3 cup of granola. “Finally, crush a tablespoon of your favorite unsalted nuts and sprinkle on top,” Pimentel says. “Pop it in the refrigerator and enjoy it in the morning!”
“Eggs are a great source of protein and one of the most budget-friendly traditional breakfast foods,” Gill says. Egg muffins are incredibly versatile, since you can add pretty much any veggie, herb or protein you have on hand to them. “Be creative by adding your favorite vegetables like spinach, red peppers and onions, then season to taste and bake in the oven in muffin tins,” Gill suggests. “The great thing about eggs is that they can be enjoyed several ways, which includes eating the whole egg or just the egg whites. Eggs have great nutritional value, especially protein.”
BLUEBERRY BANANA KALE SMOOTHIE
If you’re a smoothie person, this one’s for you. It’s one of registered dietitian Ashley Harpst’s favorites. “This smoothie provides about 290 calories per serving, and it’s a budget-friendly meal because the ingredients can also be bought in bulk. The fruit and kale are loaded with vitamins and minerals to help decrease inflammation. Lastly, the protein and carbohydrates in the milk will satisfy your hunger.” Add the following ingredients to your blender the night before or morning of:
- 1–2 cups kale, washed and patted dry (or use frozen kale)
- 1/2 cup low-fat milk
- 1/2 cup frozen banana
- 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
Be sure to place the kale at the bottom of the blender so it gets blended properly, Harpst advises. Also, feel free to make this smoothie more budget-friendly by swapping out 1–2 ingredients for similar ones that are in season.
If you’re in search of a savory option, try whipping up some breakfast quesadillas with the following ingredients: tortillas, cheese, shredded chicken, green onions, bell peppers and salsa. These items are inexpensive and easy to reuse in other meals if you don’t finish them, according to Sandy Younan Brikho, a registered dietitian. “This is a balanced meal with all the major food groups; it’s quick and easy to prepare, so it’s a great option for those always on the go,” she adds.
Oats are so versatile they’re featured twice here, and these protein-packed oats are so easy to make. Start with 1/2 cup of oats and cook as you normally would in the microwave or on the stovetop, explains Lauren Harris-Pincus, a registered dietitian. From there, simply stir a beaten egg into your almost-cooked oatmeal and allow the cooking to finish. “You’ll get both protein and fiber in a filling breakfast to keep you going for hours. Add defrosted frozen fruit for even more fiber and antioxidants that bring so many health benefits like improvement in insulin resistance, brain health and heart health.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
Breakfast doesn’t have to be a huge production that leaves a dent in your calorie and grocery budget. Give these ideas a try. Even if you’re not normally a “breakfast person,” you might just be surprised at the results.
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