When it comes to cheap breakfast ideas (and also cheap dinner ideas), it’s most important to think “filling.” It’s easy to see a $2 box of cereal and assume it’s the best deal. But don’t be fooled! Frozen waffles and bowls of cereal might seem inexpensive, but they’re straight carbs that will leave you hungry 30 minutes later. That means it wasn’t just a $0.50 bowl of cereal- it was actually a $3.50 breakfast because you stopped for a breakfast burrito, too.
If you want something truly affordable, make sure you eat plenty of protein in your breakfast. This includes peanut butter, whole grains, meats, and dairy. Eating protein means you’ll stay fuller longer and won’t need to factor in the price of snacks. To make your breakfast nutritionally complete, add in whatever servings of fruit or vegetables you want. (And you can grow your own veggies to REALLY cut on food costs.)
If you don’t have time in the mornings to make breakfasts from scratch, join the club! Around here, we blast some music on the weekend and whip up breakfast food in big batches. Then, we’ll freeze the extras to eat throughout the week. (Remember: if you can find it in the freezer section of the store, you can freeze it just fine at home.) Here are some cheap breakfast ideas to add to your rotation.
Cheap Breakfast Ideas: All the Eggs
Eggs are one of the most versatile breakfast foods, and easily one of the cheapest. Feeling spicy? Have some Tex Mex for breakfast! I don’t have an official recipe for this, but you can add tons of different ingredients. Try scrambled eggs, diced or ground meat (great for using up leftovers), avocados, or other veggies to a flour tortilla. Add a splash of hot sauce if that’s your thing.
As a bonus, these freeze really well (as I mention in my article on freezer meals for new moms). Go ahead and make a big batch of them, roll them individually in aluminum foil, and store in the freezer to eat throughout the week.
Cost: If you use an avocado, it’ll run you $1.02/burrito. If you substitute it for another kind of veggie, you’ll go back under that $1.00/serving mark.
Scramble those eggs, throw in some diced meats, veggies, and cheeses, and you’ve got yourself an omelette!
Cost: Varies a ton, but if you use two eggs, a splash of milk, and 1c diced veggies or ½ c meat, it’ll probably cost you around $0.81/omelette.
Back when I was a full time teacher, I routinely splurged on slices of takeout breakfast pizza. I kicked myself when I learned how easy it was to make at home! This recipe produces a breakfast pizza very similar to my favorite.
Cost: $0.84/slice if you leave out the bacon and sausage entirely. You can add five strips of bacon or 1/3c ground sausage and bring the cost right up to $1/slice. If you add all the meat in her recipe, it jumps to $1.19/slice.
This is a great breakfast dish when you want to feel fancy. They’re also super customizable depending on tastes and preferences. Experiment with various kinds of cheeses, meats, and veggies, or try this fairly basic recipe, which includes sausage and a hash brown crust.
Cost: $4.79/quiche, or $0.60/slice if you’re using the above recipe.
This recipe routinely makes it into our dinner rotation because it’s so good. We use a recipe similar to this one, though we use 1, not 2 lbs of meat and we add in plenty of veggies like peppers, onions, and broccoli. Even so, because this one has plenty of meat, it’s easily the most expensive breakfast meal in this article.
Cost: $7.91/batch, or $0.99/serving.
Eggs & toast
You can’t get more simple that straight eggs and toast. Don’t like scrambled eggs? Try frying them over easy, over hard, or sunny side. If you really want to get creative, learn to poach them
- $0.12/egg, or $0.32/egg for organic, cage free eggs.
- $0.04/slice for the worst quality or Walmart day-old bread, $0.08/slice if it’s homemade bread, around $0.21/slice for average quality bread, and $0.31/slice for specialty, organic, or GMO free bread.
Cheap Breakfast Ideas: All the Smoothies
Mixed Berry Smoothie
This is both one of my favorite and my toddler’s favorite. Simply take 1 ½ cup of whatever berries you have on hand (either fresh or frozen) and chuck them in the blender with a banana and milk or yogurt.
Cost: $1.22/total, or $0.61 for an 8oz serving.
If you throw ½ c kale, ½ c spinach, 8 strawberries, 1 banana, and 1c milk into the blender, you get a very green, very healthy breakfast!
Cost: $2.10/total, or $1.05 for an 8oz serving.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Smoothie
This is one of the easiest of all cheap breakfast ideas.This recipe asks you to blend 5 tbsp of peanut butter, 1c milk, 1 banana, and ¼ c chocolate chips. If it’s not cold enough for you, try using a frozen banana instead to chill it down.
Cost: $1.05/total, or $0.52 for an 8oz serving.
This recipe asks for 1 banana, ½ an avocado, 1c milk, 2 tbsp cocoa powder, and 1 tbsp maple syrup. You can omit the final ingredient, as it still tastes fantastic without it.
Cost: $1.22/total, or $0.61 for an 8oz serving.
Cheap Breakfast Ideas: All the Grilled Stuff
A waffle irons run about $5 at your local thrift store. Regular use will be more than worth that small investment. When we make waffles, we make a double batch of my favorite waffle recipe. From start to finish (including cleanup!) it only takes us an hour and fifteen minutes, and that’s including all toddler interruptions. Best of all, these waffles will keep your family running for hours, or days if you freeze extras.
Cost: $1.18 for the whole batch, or $0.09/waffle.
Who can beat these for delicious and cheap breakfasts? In our house, we tend to make oatmeal pancakes for maximum belly-filling. If you want, you can also add blueberries, mashed bananas, or chocolate chips for variety.
- $1.06 for the whole basic batch following the above recipe, or about $0.11/pancake.
- If using Bisquick according to their recipe, it’s $0.08/pancake.
My favorite way to treat an almost-stale loaf of bread is by whipping up some french toast. All you need is bread and eggs, and maybe a little vanilla extract if you’re feeling fancy. What could go wrong?
This was the go-to comfort food in my house growing up. It’s easy, quicker than pancakes, and can be filled with a THOUSAND ingredients. If you want savory ones, add cheese, ham, eggs, mushrooms, or spinach. If you want sweet ones, try peanut butter, nutella, cinnamon, or diced apple.
The authentic French Canadian recipe we’ve always used is as follows:
- Blend 1 ½ c flour, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp baking powder, 1 tbsp sugar, 2c milk, 2 eggs, and 1 tsp vanilla til smooth.
- Heat skillet on med high, pour ¾ c of batter onto skillet and cook for 2 mins on the first side, flipping only to just cook the other side.
- Serve, add toppings, and eat hot!
- $0.89/batch, or around $0.08/crepe, minus the fillings.
- If you wanted to add peanut butter, ½ an apple (diced), and some cinnamon, that’d become $0.62/crepe.
- If you wanted to add diced ham, an egg, and some cheese, that’d become $0.60/crepe.
Cheap Breakfast Ideas: All the Baked Goodies
This is our go-to meal when we have too many overripe bananas, zucchini, carrots, or other fruits/veg that need to be used up. I like this recipe for zucchini bread, though you can find dozens of options online.
Cost: Most recipes will run you somewhere around $2.50-3/loaf, meaning the per serving price is somewhere between $0.10-$0.25.
I like making muffins whenever there’s leftovers. I like using the “muffin master recipe” found in the Tightwad Gazette since it’s so forgiving. Whether there’s extra oatmeal, peanut butter, or applesauce, this recipe can accommodate whatever I need to use up.
Cost: Varies tremendously, but if you were about to throw some of the ingredients away anyways, you could get away with a whole batch costing you $0.52 for the flour and egg. That would mean $0.04/muffin.
“What?” I hear you asking, “How are cinnamon buns included in cheap breakfast ideas?”
It’s true! You can make cinnamon buns very affordably at home, even with more expensive ingredients like heavy cream, cream cheese, and lots of butter. The trade-off is with your time and effort. So make sure you double your baking time as togetherness time with someone you love, time to listen to a podcast, or just crank the tunes and have fun.
This is probably the most labor, time, and dishes intensive breakfast on this list. But my God are they delicious. So they got an inclusion. We tend to use this recipe, or else we make a batch of Betty Crocker’s refrigerator dough and use that as the base to save time.
Cost: $7.80/batch, or $0.65/bun.
Cheap Breakfast Ideas: All the Oatmeal
One of the most versatile of all cheap breakfast ideas is oatmeal. They’re full of iron and protein, and they can keep you going all morning long. Many people think they don’t like oatmeal, when really they haven’t found their perfect cooking method. Try out different cook times, microwave vs boiling water, and steel cut vs quick cook types. I personally prefer eating quick cook oatmeal that’s been cooked for 30 seconds in the microwave.
Bowl of oatmeal
You also can’t go wrong with oatmeal for convenience. You can make sweeter bowls with cinnamon, brown sugar, honey, peanut butter, maple syrup, nutmeg, or fruit/raisins. I like a tablespoon of nutella. You can also add nuts, flax, or chia seeds for an added nutritional and texture boost.
Cost: $0.09/serving of oatmeal. Add in a few pennies for a splash of milk, a few berries, chocolate chips, or whatever other mixings you want.
While we’re talking about oatmeal, let’s talk about the big batch version. Baked oatmeal is made with milk, butter, baking powder, and spices/mix-ins in a casserole-sized dish. This recipe is pretty basic, but absolutely delicious.
Cost: $3.18 for the whole batch, or $0.40/serving.
And we’re not done with oatmeal recipes! Overnight oats are the gold standard in cheap, quick breakfast ideas. The basic recipe is ½ c oatmeal, ½ c milk, and ½ c yogurt. Then, add in whatever mixings, fruits, or species you want for your favorite flavor. Peanut butter, banana, and chocolate is good, as is mixed berry. Simply put the mix in the fridge overnight and eat cold in the morning!
Cost: $0.45/serving before mixings.
A Final Note about Cheap Breakfast Ideas
Inflation is real, people. In the course of the two weeks I worked on this article (from July 21st, 2021-Aug 4th, 2021), food prices rose 1-2 pennies each on most items. It seems like inflation will be around for a bit, so we might as well get used to it.
However, it’s hard to see these changes without doing a ton of math. Honestly, it’s too much math to do while waltzing around the grocery store (especially with hungry kids or spouses). Thank goodness for online shopping for price comparison. Food companies often change box sizes, serving sizes, and the weight of products to mask the price increases. More than ever, knowing the right way to grocery shop is essential.
This doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel and just buy frozen waffles. Even if prices are slightly higher when you read this, the same kinds of food are going to be the cheapest. Gourmet cuts of tenderloin are not all of a sudden going to be cheaper than a package of ground beef. Things like eggs, flour, sugar, milk, and peanut butter are still going to be your pantry staples for the lowest cost.
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