Monday, 1 January 2024
by Earn Media
Millions of people are living with a horrible breakfast burden. But they don’t have to. I’m here to share a breakfast secret with you that could very well change your life and your personal finances:
There is no such thing as breakfast food.
Alright, so hear me out. Here in the U.S., many of us have been raised to believe in this idea that there are certain “breakfast foods,” and that your first meal of the day has to be drawn from that list.
But guess what? That’s nonsense. You don’t have to eat eggs and oatmeal just because it’s morning. You can actually eat whatever you want. And making peace with this idea can save you time and money.
When colonizers first settled in the U.S., breakfast wasn’t much different from any other meal. You ate what you had. If you were well-off enough to have leftovers after dinner, that was breakfast. If not, you ate whatever was on hand; often, that was porridge because it was cheap and filling.
Either way, you didn’t say, “Oh man, it’s not a Complete Breakfast if it doesn’t include an animated mascot and maple sap.” No, that came later, generally attributed to a wacky health guru during America’s industrialization.
Will Keith Kellogg was a big fan of healthy bowel movements. And his invention — Corn Flakes — was inspired by his desire to help others have many, many movements each day.
Americans, who increasingly worked long hours in factory jobs, wanted healthy and convenient foods. So they were ripe for the picking when Kellogg pumped massive amounts of money into advertising his “healthy” breakfast cereal. (As did his rival, C.W. Post, who produced “healthy” Grape-Nuts. And their rivals, and so on.)
Soon, Americans were convinced that cereal was an essential “Part of a Complete Breakfast.” (It didn’t hurt that it was cheap and easy.) Now, five generations have grown up in the advertising shadow of Big Breakfast such that most of us can barely imagine a morning meal that doesn’t include something from Kellogg’s or Post.
When breakfast cereal first hit the market, it very well may have been cheap and healthy. Today…not so much. A box of brand-name cereal at my local grocer costs upward of $5 a box. We’re not even talking about family-size! (And I won’t even get into how much sugar is in that box.)
No wonder the breakfast food industry is expected to grow by $125 billion by 2027.
You don’t need to contribute to the overflowing pockets of Big Breakfast. Once you break out of the idea that breakfast has to contain certain foods, you open up a literal world of possibilities.
Eat like our forebearers did and enjoy dinner leftovers at breakfast. (And no, I don’t mean cold pizza like you ate in college — unless you’re into that. No judgment.) Leftovers that may not seem like enough to save for the next night could actually make a perfect small breakfast on your way out the door.
Pro tip: You can wrap almost anything in a tortilla for a great to-go meal.
Or if you have an industrious day off, you can batch-prep breakfasts (and lunches) out of cheap and easy ingredients. Rice and beans can be made in large quantities, and they combine into a complete protein that’s nutritious and filling — and about as affordable as meals get. Make use of veggies (store-brand frozen are usually inexpensive), herbs, and spices to change up the flavors.
Beyond changing how you approach breakfast, there are tons of ways to cut costs at the grocery store. Here are a few of my go-to tips:
Keeping up with rising grocery costs is hard enough when you don’t have to worry about social constructs limiting your options. Break out of the breakfast food bonds that bind you. It will open up your food horizons, and, hopefully, open up your budget, too.
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The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.Brittney Myers has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Costco Wholesale. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.