Save money on breakfast: Make it yourself

I grew up in a "traditional" family with the sort of mom who got up early to make us a big breakfast. I remember eggs, pancakes, biscuits, sausages, toast, and always a pitcher of freshly-mixed juice. We were also firmly on the underside of the poverty line (so it was margarine on our toast and generic brand 'pancake syrup' on our flapjacks).

When I got to be a parent, I stuck to my grown-up spendthrift ways for quite a while, buying cold cereal, scones, bagels and the like, rarely making a big delicious breakfast of biscuits or pancakes or muffins but far more often just picking it up from the coffee shop.

And then one day -- maybe it was the fact that I stopped eating processed foods and cut out white sugar, or maybe it was just that our grocery budget was through the roof -- I made a commitment to start making breakfast, just like my mama before me.

I learned the ways of granola, I got fast with morning pancakes, I found a muffin recipe I could throw together in 25 minutes start-to-oven fresh. But mostly we just eat oatmeal. It's organic and steel cut and we still save on breakfast from those WOW expensive cold cereals and $2.50 a pop breakfast pastries. I soak it the night before so it cooks up in a flash. When I have a holiday, I make a huge batch of waffles and put a bunch in the freezer for those mornings that aren't so rise-and-shiney.

And this was my AH-HA! moment: I reconnected with the real reason my mom got up to make us breakfast every day. It wasn't that she was such a fantastic, early-rising farm girl of a mother (though of course, she was). It was that she couldn't afford to buy us Corn Flakes and Pop Tarts every morning. Making pancakes is cheap.

Even if you're kitchen-challenged, you can make granola (it's just mixing and baking), French toast (dip bread in eggs; fry) and oatmeal (boil water; add oats; reduce heat). Even with the lux choices I make -- organic grains, real organic maple syrup, organic super-rich butter -- I'm spending about $2 or $3 for most breakfasts for my family of five, compared to three or four times that cost if I were to buy packaged breakfast food (or worse, Starbucks, which always sets us back close to $20).

How much do you spend on breakfast? What are your best morning meals? Do you eat the same way today as you did when you were a kid?

Read Full Story

Can't get enough personal finance tips?

Sign up for Finance Report by AOL and get everything from consumer news to money tricks delivered directly to your inbox daily!

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.