You ever get that magnetic pull to fast-food drive-thrus, especially when stress levels are peaking or sleep is playing hard to get? It’s an annual phenomenon for me, right when fall rolls around. The chatter among friends veers towards boots and cozy flannels, Pumpkin Spice Lattes take over the ‘Gram, and visits to pumpkin patches and corn mazes become the weekend norm. In all this hustle and bustle, my mind drifts towards homemade alternatives to the all-day breakfast at McDonald’s.
Even though I enjoy the beautiful fall foliage and the crystal-clear blue skies just like anyone else, the season’s arrival is a cause for concern for me. It’s not because of the weather; it’s because of the hectic period my husband, a farmer, enters. He departs for work before sunrise and comes back after the kids are asleep. By the third week, everyone is cranky, and somehow, I end up in a drive-thru with the children. It’s quite puzzling.
However, I made a pledge to alter things this year.
After examining my daily routine, I realized that the stressors in my life were mundane tasks such as making breakfast or washing dishes. These chores might seem small but set the tone for the entire day. So, I decided to start at the beginning.
One Saturday, I embarked on a journey to come up with some easy and cost-effective breakfast alternatives. The cost of preparing these meals is listed below, although your expenses might differ.
- English Muffin Egg Sandwich
The cost comes to $0.78 (in comparison to $2.99 for a McDonald’s Sausage McMuffin with Egg).
- Toasted English muffin ($0.17)
- Fried egg ($0.22)
- Slice of Canadian bacon ($0.19)
- Cheese slice ($0.20)
Create the sandwich using the ingredients listed above, wrapping it carefully in wax paper and foil, then storing it in a freezer-friendly zip bag. It can be heated in a toaster oven at 325 degrees for about half an hour. To up the health quotient, feel free to add some veggies.
- Egg Burrito
Two Egg Burritos cost $0.61, while a Sausage Burrito at McDonald’s is $1.56.
- Tortilla ($0.10)
- Slice of bacon ($0.25)
- Two scrambled eggs ($0.44)
- Shredded cheese ($0.05)
- Leftover broccoli ($0.02)
Saute any raw veggies until they’re tender before cracking your eggs into the pan. When everything is ready, use about a quarter cup of eggs for each tortilla, adding bacon, cheese, and broccoli (or any other leftovers) on top. Roll into a burrito shape and wrap with wax paper, then foil. Store in freezer-friendly zip bags and reheat in a toaster oven at 325 degrees for half an hour. Alternatively, microwave the unwrapped burrito wrapped in a damp paper towel.
These egg-based breakfasts are ideal for using up scraps of meat or veggies that might otherwise go to waste. Quiche is another excellent dish for this purpose. I didn’t calculate the cost, but it stores well and can transform even the humblest broccoli into a delicious meal.
- Fruit & Maple Oatmeal
The price for Fruit and Maple Oatmeal is between $0.30 and $3.50 (compared to McDonald’s version at $1.99).
- Half a cup of traditional oats ($0.08)
- 3/4 cup of milk or water ($0.14)
- Cinnamon (negligible cost)
- Assorted seasonal fruits and nuts (Blueberries are $0.12)
- Maple syrup, to taste (negligible cost)
Combine the oats and your choice of liquid in a microwave-safe bowl. Personalize your oatmeal with your favorite flavors – apples and cinnamon for a touch of fall, pecans and maple extract for a nutty flavor, or even nutmeg and pumpkin. Add your preferred spices, nuts, seeds, or fruits to make your breakfast even more flavorful. Cook in the microwave on high for 2 1/2 minutes.
You can choose whether you want your fruit or nut additions to be raw or cooked by adding them before or after microwaving. Top with some maple syrup, and your delicious breakfast is ready!
Creative inspiration can strike at any time!
If you prefer a chilled breakfast, you could make overnight oats instead of the regular variety. Just cover the oats (half a cup) with milk or water in a glass jar. Eating the oats cold is a time-saving strategy. Opt for budget-friendly ingredients to keep costs low. For instance, I get oats for $0.81 per pound from a bulk food store.
Another family favorite is baked oatmeal. Since it’s like cake in texture, it can be cut into squares, wrapped in wax paper, then foil, and stored in freezer bags until needed.
- 1 egg ($0.22)
- 1/3 cup oil ($0.30)
- 1/3 cup sugar ($0.50)
- Rolled oats ($0.32)
- Minimal salt, baking soda, and cinnamon
- 1/2 cup milk ($0.09)
- Half a cup of blueberries (50 cents)
Each serving costs about 30 cents to make, and it serves five people. Astonishing, right?
Waffles and Pancakes: A Detour from the Usual
In our household, waffles are loved by all. However, cleaning the waffle maker is a task I dislike. We freshen up leftover waffles in the toaster, and they taste just as good as when they’re freshly made, and it doesn’t ruin my waffle iron. It’s as quick as popping an Eggo or any other frozen waffle into the toaster, but so much tastier.
I’ve been freezing extra waffles for years, but I hadn’t tried freezing regular pancakes until recently. Instead, I freeze pancake muffins. They have the taste of pancakes, but the syrup is baked right in, eliminating the risk of sticky hair when it’s time for the school bus. You can find many recipes online and modify them to suit your family’s preferences. Dried fruits, like berries, make a tasty addition.
I prepare muffins, waffles, and pancakes and store them in zip-top freezer bags.
Even if you don’t want to freeze pancakes or waffles, you can still prepare most of the batter the night before. I’ve tried this with waffle batter and got excellent results, despite the batter looking quite unappetizing in the morning.
For a flavorful twist, add pumpkin puree and spices like cinnamon, ginger, and allspice to your pancake batter to make pumpkin pancakes. Eating pancakes on the go can be messy, but you can avoid sticky situations by making inside-out pancakes.
- Regular pancake mix
- 1/2 cup of dark sugar
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- Toasted and chopped nuts of your choice, 2 tablespoons
Prepare the pancake batter as usual. Then mix brown sugar, cinnamon, and toasted nuts. Spread a layer of batter in the skillet, press the sugar mixture into the batter, and add another layer of batter on top. Cook on both sides. (You may need to thin out the batter more than usual.)
So, how did my new Never will.
Some of the prices mentioned in the article could vary based on region and availability. Please note that the article’s nutritional data is estimated and may vary greatly depending on cooking techniques and ingredients used. Your individual dietary needs may vary.
With all that said, go out there and make your breakfasts awesome and affordable! Get out of the fast-food rut, and you’ll be surprised at the changes you’ll see in your health, mood, and wallet! Have a good one!
(But, hey, we’ll all have McDonald’s one day when we need it. No one’s perfect. Keep going!)
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