A recent theme of Big Box advertising is the savings from eating breakfast at home rather than a fast food restaurant. The average savings is between $500-$600 a year if a family of four would give up one fast food breakfast a week.
Guess I’m a little naive on how a majority of Americans are getting the most important meal of the day. We always thought of “breakfast out” as a vacation/traveling option or a special, weekend occasion. Not an everyday thing.
So I started asking around. Sure enough, many office workers walk in the door with a fast food bag and a disposable coffee cup in hand. Parents are serving breakfast in the minivan on the way to school from a bag passed through their window in the Drive Thru lane. A recent survey found that 37% of adults and 42% of kids had eaten from a fast food restaurant over a 2-day period.
When did breakfast start being a big budget item for people?
Everyone wants a bit at your breakfast dollars. Breakfast makes up a quarter of McDonald’s sales. Taco Bell is wanting to get in on the huge profits with a Waffle Taco while Dunkin’ Donuts just introduced its glazed donut bacon sandwich. Starbucks figured out you were already there for coffee, so why not offer a few munchies to go with it. Just around the corner, someone is wanting to sell you breakfast.
Breakfast is keeping some people broke!
How can you push away from the marketing of a quick, easy breakfast delivered through your car window?
1. Prioritize breakfast foods on your grocery list.
Keep a steady supply of breakfast staples in your house that your family will actually eat – eggs, milk, bread, favorite cereals, oatmeal, yogurt and fresh fruits. Splurge a little and get the shrink pack of eight different cereals and have a tasting party where everyone gets a small sample of each kind. Vote on which cereal to have in the pantry next week.
Many products in your grocery store can be a quick breakfast if you aren’t a morning chef. Power bars, even though they can average $1 each, are still a better nutritional and budget option. Frozen breakfast sandwiches and toaster items are kid friendly to prepare and easy to transport on the way to school or work.
2. Get creative with breakfast choices.
Who says breakfast is limited to cold cereal, hot oatmeal, or a frying pan of bacon and eggs? Breakfast is the first meal of the day that jump starts your body and mind. Proteins and carbs are the essentials to get you going.
Brainstorm with your family on what they would like first thing in the morning. Maybe a PB&J would be perfect for John, a bowl of yogurt with some granola for Jane, and a mini-breakfast pizza for Terry. Make the breakfast menu part of your calendar.
3. Prepare the night before.
While the kitchen is still messy from dinnertime, take a moment to prep a few things for breakfast. Cut up fruits in single-serving bowls that are easy for everyone to grab. Prep some overnight oatmeal for a change. Pour out a single serving of cereal in an air-tight container and milk in an easy-pour measuring cup so a little one can eat while you are still getting ready in the morning.
If you want to do a quick batch of eggs, have the pan out on the stove top and blend the eggs and milk in a bowl. In the morning while waiting on coffee, turn on the heat, whip up the eggs, and pour. In a few minutes, scrambled eggs are ready for the plate or a tortilla roll-up.
Put your car-friendly mug near the coffee maker. If your breakfast will be mobile, have things ready to go in the fridge or on the counter to quickly grab as you head to the car.
Preparing the night before is the best offense to staying away from a drive-thru.
4. Prepare breakfast foods well in advance.
Crystal, a great savings blogger on Money Saving Mom, is always posting about her breakfast options she makes in advance and puts in the freezer. This is a good strategy for any meal, but breakfast foods are especially freezer friendly. Take a few hours on the weekend or evenings to whip up a batch of muffins or pancakes and store so that single servings are easy to grab and heat up.
Find new recipes online for a yummy power bar that will make a large number of servings.
What You’ll Save
The average fast food breakfast can run between $4-$7, without a fancy coffee. Put a fancy coffee and muffin together, you have a $10 breakfast. At home, breakfast can average between $1-$3. Your family of four can easily spend around $2,000 a year ($4 x 4 people x 3 days x 40 weeks) on a cheap, part-time breakfast habit. That’s like eating away your vacation.
You might have saved yourself time in the kitchen, but chances are you are driving a little out of your way to get breakfast. Plus, you are spending time in the drive-thru, which is not always predictable.
Fast food breakfast choices are loaded with calories and fats. Making breakfast from fresh foods at home will help your wasteline as much as your bottom line. Even the convenience foods in your grocery freezer are better nutritional choices, especially if you add some fresh items to your plate.
Has the fast food breakfast crept into your lifestyle? Is buying breakfast on the way to work or school keeping you broke and from reaching your financial (or fitness) goals? Take a moment this week to purposefully make a plan to have an enjoyable breakfast at home.
What are your at-home breakfast tips? Do you have a drive-thru habit that needs to be changed? Leave a comment!