Friday, June 18, 2010

Create a wholesome breakfast that’s easy on your wallet

Breakfast is serious business around our house—so much so that our 4-year-old son has been known to wake before sunrise if he knows we have powdered-sugar donuts in the kitchen. Even on mornings without donuts, one of our children inevitably wanders into our bedroom and wakes me with, “I’m hungry. Can I have breakfast?”

It’s probably no surprise, then, that children who wake with yawning hunger can eat a lot. (Our donut lover can easily eat five pancakes at one sitting.) With big appetites and busy mornings, the challenge is to have breakfast fare that is quick, easy, and inexpensive and that isn’t overly processed or sugary.

I’m continually looking for ways to create wholesome breakfast options that we can have on hand and grab on the go. That way, on those mornings when we get a late start and the dog bolts out the door and the baby is crying and we have to search for a missing shoe or backpack, we won’t starve or be tempted to hit the drive-thru.

You no doubt have your own morning scenario, and yours probably involves being short on time, too. With a little planning and kitchen savvy, you can prepare breakfast foods that will fuel you for the day ahead without breaking your budget.

One of the most practical, easy things I make at our house is breakfast burritos. My mantra is that anything wrapped in a tortilla is good. I usually end up using eggs, beans, and cheese in our burritos, but if I have leftover meat or vegetables, I toss those in, too. I line up the tortillas assembly-line style, spoon about ½ cup of filling into the middle, fold the burritos and wrap them in aluminum foil. I put the burritos in the freezer, but they never last long.

Whole-wheat banana chocolate chip pancakes are another favorite for freezing. They are easy to make, warm beautifully in the toaster, and are good eaten out of hand—no syrup necessary. Breakfast cookies are in the same category. The idea of eating cookies for breakfast is enough to make everyone love them, no matter what I put in them. One recipe calls for whole-wheat flour, mashed bananas, canned pumpkin, and grated apples. I’ve added mini chocolate chips, flax seed, raisins and cinnamon at various times, too.

Look for ways to streamline your breakfast routine with homemade, make-ahead versions of fast foods. If you find yourself grabbing instant oatmeal packets, for example, why not make your own? You can make a large batch of ready-to-eat oatmeal by mixing oatmeal, a little sugar and dried fruit in a sealable bowl. When you need a quick breakfast, scoop out a ½ cup of mix and add boiling water, or try packing individual servings to keep with you at school or work. You can experiment with other flavors and concoct your own custom oatmeal mixes.

If you’re like me and you love breakfast sandwiches, you can make your own. I fry eggs and sausage patties and put them on English muffins with some cheese. I wrap them individually and store them in the freezer. When I know I’ll have an extra busy morning, I put one in the refrigerator to thaw overnight, then pop it into the microwave when I’m ready to eat it. Frozen fruit cups, baked oatmeal, homemade granola, and miniature muffins have also been part of my breakfast repertoire.

A good breakfast is a satisfying way to start the day, especially when you’re eating something quick and nutritious that’s easy on your wallet, too.

Kitchen Sink Breakfast Cookies


½ cup canned pumpkin
½ cup applesauce, unsweetened
½ cup grated apple
1 cup banana, mashed
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. salt
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup raisins (or mini chocolate chips)


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat pumpkin, applesauce, grated apple, banana and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add flours, baking soda, cinnamon, pie spice and salt; mix well. Add oats and raisins (or chocolate chips); mix well.

2. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets.

3. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Whole-Wheat Banana Chocolate-Chip Pancakes


1½ cups whole-wheat flour
1 tbsp. brown sugar
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup milk with 1 tbsp. lemon juice or cider vinegar mixed in
1 egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 mashed banana
½ cup mini chocolate chips


1. Mix flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl; set aside.
2. In another mixing bowl, mix the milk, egg, vanilla, and oil; add the mashed banana and mix well.
3. Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in chocolate chips.
4. Cook on a greased griddle over medium to high heat.



4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup canola oil
½ cup honey


1. Mix ingredients in bowl.
2. Spread on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.
3. Bake for 14 minutes at 300 degrees.
4. Add dried, chopped fruit of your choice.

Bran Muffins


1 cup wheat bran
1 ½ cups whole-wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
½ cup raisins
¾ cup applesauce
1 cup milk
½ cup molasses or honey
2 tbsp. oil
2 eggs, beaten


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Combine wheat bran, whole-wheat flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
3. Stir in raisins.
4. In a separate bowl, blend applesauce, milk, molasses, oil, and eggs.
5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until moistened.
6. Spoon into greased muffin tin (or paper muffin cups) and bake for 15-20 minutes.

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