Breakfast on a Budget

By: Michelle Dudash, RD


As a mom, chef and registered dietitian, I know how hard it can be to keep up with fresh ideas for good-tasting, healthy, quick meals on a budget – and breakfast is no exception. Have you stopped to consider the per nutrient cost of the foods you eat? It’s what I call “nutrition economics.” It’s not just about the dollar value of the food – it’s about the full value the food offers.

When it comes to getting the most nutritional bang for your buck, beverages are often overlooked. Drinks can be a large part of a family’s food budget and poor drink choices can negatively affect your grocery bill and the nutritional value of your meal. I try to limit the sugary, nutrient-void drinks, and instead opt for lowfat or fat free milk at breakfast.

Penny for penny, ounce for ounce, milk delivers more nutrition than just about any drink. Milk costs just 25 cents a glass and provides 9 essential nutrients, including calcium and vitamin D. Other drinks manufactured to be like dairy milk just can’t provide the same nutrition for your dollar. Not only does my family love the taste of milk, we love how versatile it is.

Looking for an easy breakfast recipe that and won’t break the bank, try my Make-Ahead Mini Broccoli Cheddar Frittatas. For just about $1.25 per serving (including the glass of milk!), you get a nutritious breakfast that gives you nutrients you need without breaking the bank. And the best part - you can prepare these the night before and keep them on hand for the week.


Here are some other ways to keep “nutrition economics” in mind when at the grocery store:

  • DO: Learn to look at costs per nutrient. Check your labels and ask yourself: “Is the food I’m selecting packed with nutrients to keep my family fueled?”
  • DO: Think about your drink. Take a look at your beverage closely and choose the options that offer the most nutrients for a healthy start.  Check out how your AM beverages stack up.
  •  DO: Maximize the seasons. Buy fresh fruits and vegetables only when in season and learn to use your freezer.  By utilizing frozen in the off season, you still get the same nutrients, at a much lower cost.
  • DON’T: Spend on substitutes.  Expensive alternatives are usually just that: expensive, and they often don’t deliver the value of the real thing.
  • DON’T: Be a spontaneous meal planner. Plan out meals at the start of the week to make sure you have all the ingredients to make meals for your family. Or, even better, make dinners ahead of time and store in the freezer.