The Topic: The Cheapest Breakfast Around
The Dish: Sitting down and tallying up how much I actually spend on eating eating out (hello, sandwiches and Thai food), it seems overwhelming to think of cutting my food budget to an actual budget. I have friends attempting to spend only $21 a day who report struggling; I can't begin to imagine eating on a dollar a day. But there are plenty of versatile staples that cost pennies, and my co-worker Liz recently reminded me of a tried-and-true favorite: oatmeal. Skip the boxed variety with its excess packaging and budget-breaking sticker price. An 18-ounce canister of quick oats goes for $4.09 at my local Safeway. Grab a bag and fill up at the bulk bins—you can take home a pound for only 99 cents, which is about 11 servings. At less than 10 cents per serving, that's hard to argue with, especially considering oats have magical staying power to get me through midmorning snack time.
If you're a plain oats type of person, that's one cheap meal. Even if you like to jazz things up, throwing in what you have handy or investing in a few add-ins from neighboring bulk bins won't raise your cost too much. Personally, I'm a peanut butter and raisins fan. Liz's signature bowl takes things to the savory side, which I had never through of before (surprising, considering my love of savory breakfast dishes). A touch of salt, pepper, and 1/4-cup nutritional yeast is all you need for a filling breakfast.
A final tip for the best oats ever? Skip the microwave. I'm not here to lecture you on its potential dangers or domination of counter space. In my opinion, I just dig oats made on the stovetop more. Start with this simple base for the best breakfast ever.
The Best Stovetop Oats
This water-to-oats ratio makes for a more porridge-like base, so feel free to adjust the liquid to your liking.
What You Need:
1 cup water
1/2 cup rolled oats
Salt, to taste
What You Do:
In a small pot, bring water to a boil. Add oats and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a pinch of salt, sugar, or any other add-ins, and enjoy!
The Final Word: Oats are also great for bulking up morning smoothies to keep you full longer if that's more your morning routine. Any way you have them, they're a cheap, healthy way to start the day.