Breakfast for dinner? Put away the cereal -- pancakes are cheaper

pancakesWhen I was a kid, it was a treat to have breakfast for dinner. I've continued that tradition for my 5-year-old daughter, recently making blueberry pancakes and bacon for dinner.

Much of America is also having breakfast food for dinner, although not what I'd consider a once-in-awhile treat -- cereal.

As a way to save money in the recession during high unemployment, more people are eating cereal for dinner, according to an Associated Press story. The cheap meal has helped General Mills Inc., the maker of Cheerios, see its second quarter profit climb 50%, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

Cereal sales are the company's largest business, with cereal sales up 10% for the quarter. "It's the fastest, easiest and at least somewhat half-nutritious thing to do during weekdays," said Kellie Hotz, 29, of Arlington Heights, Ill., to the Associated Press.

Holtz said that she and her husband, Jeff, eat cereal for dinner three times a week as they try to stretch their budget and care for their toddler. She keeps a dozen boxes of cereal on hand.

Cereal may be a more nutritious meal than pancakes for dinner, but pancakes will fill you up more if that's what you're trying to accomplish with a cheap meal. Two pancakes are about 520 calories, so it's not a meal you want to have daily.

Still, I think if people are looking to save money by eating breakfast food for dinner, they'd do better with pancakes. A box of cereal costs about $5, while pancakes made from scratch can cost pennies per pancake.

Don't waste your money buying expensive pancake mixes. They don't taste nearly as good as homemade. Besides, if you have kids, don't you want to teach them that cooking, even in a recession, takes a little more work than pouring milk on a bowl of cereal? Here's my pancake recipe:
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 Tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 cups blueberries (optional)
Gently mix everything together except the blueberries. Bake on slightly greased, hot griddle. Plop a handful of blueberries on each pancake and turn when bubbles appear. Don't be stingy with the blueberries, although they're optional if your budget can't afford them. Or substitute banana slices.

If this doesn't get you wanting to spend 10 minutes making pancakes, instead of 10 seconds making cereal, then you'll have to wait until the second half of General Mills' fiscal year, when it plans on introducing Chocolate Cheerios.

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area who can be reached at

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