18 Cheap Breakfast Ideas For Those On a Tight Food Budget

If you have a limited food budget, try these cheap breakfast ideas to save money while still getting the nutritional value from your meals.

various food on the table

Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day. But, many people opt-out due to time constraints or costs.

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of tasty and budget-friendly breakfast options to help you start your day strong without breaking the bank. From homemade granola and oatmeal to avocado toast and breakfast burritos, there are plenty of delicious and affordable options.

Key Takeaways

  • Eating breakfast boosts your energy while helping prevent you from overeating and overspending.
  • To prepare cheap breakfast recipes, plan ahead, stock your pantry, use kitchen appliances, meal prep, and incorporate leftovers.
  • We’ll cover 18 cheap breakfast ideas you can easily make with minimal effort and low costs.

The Benefits of Eating Breakfast

While some of us may prefer to skip breakfast, I am a firm believer in eating a morning meal. There are many proven benefits to eating breakfast every day.

Breakfast is an Energy Booster

Eating a nutritious breakfast will provide your body with fuel to kick-start the day. When you wake up in the morning, your body has gone without food for several hours and needs nourishment. Getting food in your stomach will help improve your concentration, boost your energy levels, and regulate your metabolism.

Prevent Overeating and Overspending

Starting the day with a healthy and satisfying meal can set a positive tone for the rest of the day and help you make better decisions regarding your diet and spending. Other health benefits include weight management, improved cognitive function, and cardiovascular health.

How to Prepare Cheap Breakfast Meals

Plan Ahead

Planning your meals can help you save money by allowing you to purchase ingredients in bulk and avoid impulse buying. Having a clear plan for what to eat for breakfast each week can also help you stick to your budget.

Stock Your Pantry

Buying inexpensive ingredients like oats, rice, grains, dried fruits, nuts, and seeds in bulk can save money in the long run. You can also buy fresh fruits and vegetables in season. These are cheaper than off-season produce and often taste better.

Additionally, stock your pantry with staples like dried pasta, canned beans and vegetables, and canned fish. These can all make great breakfast meals, often at a much lower cost than fresh options.

Use Kitchen Appliances

To make your life easier, use kitchen appliances. A slow cooker is great for overnight oats, steel-cut oats, or even a simple breakfast casserole. A toaster oven can get used for toasting bread, baking eggs, and making mini pizzas or breakfast sandwiches. You can use an electric griddle to make various breakfast meals, such as pancakes, French toast, and crepes. The list goes on!

Meal Planning

Meal planning is a great way to save time and money by preparing food in advance. You can cook extra portions of meals and put them in the fridge to eat for the rest of the week.

Make Use of Leftovers

Incorporating leftovers into your breakfast meals can help stretch your budget. For example, you can use last night’s cooked grains, veggies, or leftover proteins. If you ordered takeout or dined out and didn’t finish your meal, eat your leftovers.

11 Cheap Breakfast Ideas to Prep Ahead of Time

1. Baked Goods

Baked goods like muffins and bread are cheap breakfast foods you can prep and refrigerate for later, making them easy to grab and go. Here are a few ideas:

  • Make a batch of muffins: Muffins are a versatile breakfast option you can make using a variety of ingredients, including eggs, milk, peanut butter, oats, fruit, and more. 
  • Bake a loaf of bread: Baking a loaf of bread can be more cost-effective than purchasing pre-made bread depending on the ingredients used. You can try different recipes, such as whole wheat, sourdough, and banana bread, which are healthy and delicious. 
  • Prepare a breakfast casserole: A breakfast casserole can be made ahead of time using ingredients such as bread, eggs, cheese, and vegetables for a hearty breakfast.
  • Prep French toast: Preparing French toast batter in advance can save time in the morning. Mix eggs, milk, sugar, and spices and store them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them.

2. Breakfast Sandwiches

You can make breakfast sandwiches with simple ingredients like English muffins, eggs, cheese, sausage or bacon, and ketchup in a few minutes. They can be prepared in advance and frozen in bulk, so you can grab them and go in the morning.

If you don’t want to cook, you can use a sandwich machine like the Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker to make the sandwich for you. These machines are relatively inexpensive and can save you prep time if you’re in a rush. I’ve used this in the past to make a quick breakfast with minimal cleanup.

3. Rice Porridge (Congee)

Rice porridge, also known as congee, is a traditional and affordable Asian breakfast dish. Congee typically gets made with rice, water, and salt. You can flavor them with ingredients like ginger, garlic, and scallions. It can be cooked on the stovetop or in a rice cooker and then stored in the refrigerator for later consumption.

To make the congee more filling, add proteins, such as chicken, fish, or eggs. The protein can be cooked, shredded, and added to the rice porridge before reheating it. My favorite protein to add to congee is the century egg, though it’s a hit or miss for most people.

Chopping vegetables like carrots, green onion, bok choy, and other greens can add additional nutrition and color to your porridge. To top off your congee, add some cilantro, chopped peanuts, sesame seeds, and/or a dash of soy sauce.

4. Breakfast Burritos

Breakfast burritos can get made with various fillings, such as eggs, cheese, beans, and vegetables. Once wrapped in foil or plastic wrap, these burritos can be frozen and reheated in the morning to take on the road.

If you want to mix things up, get creative with the fillings. You can try different filling combinations to make them more interesting. For example, you can use sweet potato, spinach, cheese, and black beans.

You can also add toppings such as salsa, sour cream, or avocado to give your burritos more flavor. If you want to really stretch your budget, incorporate leftovers from a previous meal.

5. Hard-Boiled Eggs and Deviled Eggs

For a simple, low-cost, no-frills breakfast, make some hard-boiled eggs or deviled eggs. Hard-boil a batch of eggs for roughly 10-12 minutes, peel them ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator for the next morning. They can get eaten as is or with some seasoning such as salt, pepper, paprika, or hot sauce to give them a little extra flavor.

You can also use the eggs to make deviled eggs by mixing the yolks with mayo, mustard, and spices. If you want to be fancy, sprinkle some bacon bits, shredded cheese, and chopped scallions on them.

6. Bento Boxes

As a kid, I used to love eating Lunchables because there were so many options available (my favorites were the nachos and turkey and cheese). While I haven’t eaten Lunchables in years, I get excited over bento boxes, which I consider their adult equivalent.

You can combine your bento box with leftover rice, eggs, yogurt, fresh fruit, nuts, and seeds, to make it more nutritious and varied. To give them a twist, use a mix of textures, such as crunchy or creamy, and flavors, such as sweet or savory.

Invest in reusable containers to store your bento boxes, as they are more environmentally friendly and save you money in the long run.

7. Overnight Oats

overnight oats on a white table

To make overnight oats, combine rolled oats, milk (or a milk alternative), and any desired toppings or mix-ins (such as fruit, nuts, seeds, honey, or peanut butter) in a jar or container, and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. You can customize your overnight oats with different ingredients and flavor combinations to suit your taste. In the morning, the oats will be soft and flavorful and can be eaten cold or heated up.

8. Smoothies

berry smoothies

Smoothies are one of my favorite easy breakfast recipes because they are so simple and quick to make. All you need to do is to cut up and freeze your favorite fruits and vegetables, such as berries, bananas, kale, and spinach.

Prepare a large batch of smoothies in advance, divide it into individual servings and store them in separate bags or containers in the refrigerator or freezer for later. Then, when you’re ready to make a smoothie, add the frozen ingredients to your blender with some liquid (such as milk, yogurt, or juice) and blend until smooth.

When choosing ingredients for your smoothie, try to use ingredients that are in season or frozen to save money. Also, using ingredients like oats, chia seeds, flax seeds, peanut butter, or almond butter can add some extra protein and healthy fats to keep you full until lunchtime.

9. Homemade Granola Bars

Homemade granola bars are a delicious and relatively cheap alternative to store-bought granola bars. Mix some rolled oats, chopped nuts (such as almonds, pecans, or walnuts), seeds (such as pumpkin or sunflower seeds), shredded coconut, brown sugar, honey, melted coconut oil, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt.

Spread the mixture evenly on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown Stir occasionally to ensure even browning. You can customize your granola according to your preference and add dried fruits, chocolate chips, spices, or different sweeteners.

The granola can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks and eaten as is, with milk, yogurt, or as a topping for smoothie bowls.

10. Quesadilla

To make a breakfast quesadilla, all you need are some tortillas, eggs, cheese, and any additional fillings of your choice, such as avocados, bell peppers, onions, hash browns, or ham. Scramble the eggs and mix in any fillings, then place the mixture between two tortillas with a sprinkle of cheese. Heat on a skillet until the cheese melts and the tortillas are crispy. To top the quesadilla, eat it with some sour cream or salsa.

These can be made in advance and reheated in the morning. You can also make a big batch at once, portion them out, and freeze them for a convenient breakfast all week.

11. Turnip Cake

Pan Fried Turnip Cake | Dim sum at Pearl Liang last Monday w… | Flickr

Chinese turnip cake, also known as radish cake or lo bak go, is a traditional Cantonese dish typically served as a savory breakfast food. It is made from grated white radishes, rice flour, and various seasonings, and is usually pan-fried or steamed.

The texture is dense and chewy, and it often gets served with soy sauce and chili sauce for dipping. Some variations include Chinese sausage, shrimp, or mushrooms.

7 Cheap Breakfast Ideas to Make the Morning Of

1. Oatmeal

You can make oatmeal the weekend before or in the morning. Simply cook a large batch of oatmeal over a slow cooker using plain oats on the weekend and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

In the morning, reheat a serving and add your favorite toppings, such as fruit, nuts, cinnamon, or honey. Other popular options include adding Nutella and sliced banana or coconut milk instead of water.

2. Scrambled Eggs or Sunny Side Up Eggs

Scrambled or sunny-side-up eggs are an easy, protein-rich meal to make. On busy mornings, heat a frying pan, add some oil and cook the eggs to your desired consistency. For more flavor, mix in green onions, tomatoes, Greek yogurt, and/or garlic. You can also top off the meal with salt and pepper, ketchup, or fresh fruits.

3. Breakfast Bowl

breakfast bowl

Breakfast bowls are a great way to have a well-balanced and nutritious breakfast. These bowls typically consist of a base of oats or quinoa, topped with fruits, nuts, and seeds.

To make a breakfast bowl, cook a batch of oats or quinoa and store them in the refrigerator. The next morning, you can quickly add your favorite fruits and nuts and a splash of milk or yogurt.

Alternatively, if you want a savory breakfast bowl, you can prepare one with eggs, veggies, cheese, and breakfast meats like bacon, ham, or sausage.

4. Toast

To make toast, purchase a loaf of bread and slice it into individual pieces (or purchase pre-sliced bread). To keep the bread fresh, store it in the fridge. In the morning, pop a slice of bread or two into the toaster and add your desired toppings.

Some popular options include butter, jam, peanut butter, almond butter, cookie butter, or Nutella. You can also add fruits for a more substantial breakfast. If you want to be fancy, add a fried egg or bacon, sliced avocado, and a touch of cayenne pepper, salt, and regular pepper to your toast.

5. Bacon or Sausage with Eggs

bacon and eggs

Bacon or sausage with eggs is a classic and simple breakfast that is easy to cook. All you need are some bacon or sausage, eggs, and a pan. Cook the bacon or sausage in a pan until crispy, then remove it from the pan and set it aside. Crack the eggs into the same pan and cook them to your desired level of doneness.

6. Pancakes and Waffles

pancakes topped with berries

To make pancakes and waffles, you need a few basic ingredients like flour, eggs, milk, and maple syrup, and you can have a tasty breakfast ready in no time. Whether you prefer fluffy pancakes or crispy waffles, the possibilities are endless with a bit of creativity.

To mix things up, you can incorporate frozen or fresh berries, bananas, peanut butter, Nutella, powdered sugar, etc. in the batter or top off the pancakes and waffles with them. You can also add some protein powder for more sustenance.

7. Omelet

omelet with potatoes

Omelets are a versatile and affordable breakfast option. To prepare them ahead of time, whisk together eggs, milk, and any desired seasonings in a bowl, then pour the mixture into an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator.

When you are ready to eat, heat a skillet, pour in the egg mixture, and add in your desired fillings, such as cheddar cheese, bell pepper, veggies, or meat. You can also make individual portions by pouring the egg mixture into muffin tins and adding in fillings before baking.

The Bottom Line

These inexpensive breakfast ideas also offer a variety of flavors and ingredients to cater to different dietary needs and preferences. So, whether you’re a busy student, a budget-conscious family, or simply looking to switch up your breakfast routine, give these cheap breakfast ideas a try and see how they can help you start your day off on the right foot without breaking the bank.

We are not financial advisors. The content on this website and our YouTube videos are for educational purposes only and merely cite our own personal opinions. In order to make the best financial decision that suits your own needs, you must conduct your own research and seek the advice of a licensed financial advisor if necessary. Know that all investments involve some form of risk and there is no guarantee that you will be successful in making, saving, or investing money; nor is there any guarantee that you won't experience any loss when investing. Always remember to make smart decisions and do your own research!

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