Budgeting Breakfast – Cereal or Bacon and Eggs or Oatmeal?

by admin

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Around 2 years ago, we reached a crossroads in our family’s life.  Things were getting a little out of control (okay, more than a little) and we decided it was time to make changes and ask questions about everything we did.

Holy Sugar Bombs, Batman!

Holy Sugar Bombs, Batman!

One of the questions we asked was related to our kids.  It seemed that they were all struggling, to a greater or lesser degree with school and noise levels.  They just seemed wound up, all the time, and it was interfering with their ability to both get along with each other and at school.  I recalled a few years ago watching “Super Size Me” and one particular segment they filmed highlighting a school in Wisconsin which took the revolutionary step of serving only food from scratch in their cafeteria.  The results were astonishing: widespread behavioural problems disappeared.

So, hm.  My kids at the time ate sugary cereals almost every day out of convenience.  It was just easier – they could make it themselves, cleanup was simple, the only annoying part was we would literally go through almost a box a day – family sized.  They’d still be hungry so some kids would have two bowls.  Hm.

I made a decision to set up a new breakfast routine.  It would prove to be costly to my time, and more mess, but I think it has made a difference.  Our new routine is alternating between oatmeal and a good old “farm style” breakfast, heavy on protein.  Bacon, eggs, and either hash browns or toast.

Not exactly as depicted.

Not exactly as depicted.

Oatmeal is cheap.  Really cheap.  And because of its whole grain nature, it is actually quite high in protein as well.  We spike it with raisins and a spoonful of brown sugar, and cool it with milk.  We could do honey instead of sugar, but meh, can’t be perfect.  Plus, I love brown sugar.  I have found the best brand so far for edibility without tasting like mush is “Coach’s Oats”.

My older boys get 2 or 3 eggs, 2 pieces of bacon, and two slices of toast.  My younger ones get 1 egg, 2 bacon and 1 toast.  It does add up – we go through at least 3 pounds of bacon a week plus pushing 4 dozen eggs.

Sounds expensive, right?  Let’s do the math.

Bag of oats – good for 6 meals (feeding 6) = $8.  Maybe half a bag of brown sugar, but probably less – $2.   2 bags of raisins over 2 weeks = $8.  Cost per meal: $3, or $0.50 per plate.

Usually sunny side up... or made into a hash with potatoes and onions, though if I do that we skip the toast.

Usually sunny side up… or made into a hash with potatoes and onions, though if I do that we skip the toast.

Box of bacon = $28.  10 Dozen eggs (some will go to miscellaneous cooking, but I’d buy this much in 2 weeks) = $18.  6 loaves of bread (probably overestimating) = $12.  Cost per meal: $9, or $1.50 per plate.  I know this because when I told my wife this plan she thought I would break the bank feeding them bacon and eggs “all the time”.

For comparison’s sake, here’s the breakdown for sugary cereal, bought in huge costco sized boxes.  Cereal box = $6.  Milk = $2.  Total cost per meal = $8, or $0.65 per bowl – $1 cheaper per day BUT total emotional and health cost for the convenience of kids feeding themselves = incalculable.

I alternate between Bacon and Eggs and Oatmeal.  Averaging $9 and $3 comes out to $6 per day vs cereal at $8 per day.  Healthy food wins the budget war.

I’ll also mention that since switching them to this new diet, my 3 oldest (9, 10 and 13) have grown like weeds.  Even my 6 year old.  I am slightly above average height (6′) but my boys are all leading their classes in size.  Every one of them.  That wasn’t the case a year ago.  What are the odds of 6 boys all having growth spurts in the same year?

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