Budget breakfasts for the family

I was on BBC Radio Oxford yesterday talking about the importance of breakfast, and it occurred to me that you’ve probably been wondering what we’ve been eating for breakfast all week.

Porridge with nuts, seeds and appleWhen you’re on a budget, toast and cereal seem the only viable option. After all, with 20 servings in a box of Coco pops only costing £3, and a loaf of supermarket bread costing only 50p that does seem attractive.

However, it turns out that in many stores the ‘freshly baked bread’ isn’t fresh at all —it’s been cooked weeks before in a factory miles away and sent frozen to be re-heated in that in-store ‘bakery’. It therefore contains many preservatives and additives often not listed on the label to stop it from going stale – yuk! So for a healthy diet, supermarket bread is out the question I’m afraid.

When it comes to choosing cereals, even healthy products such as Bran flakes, Special K Oats & Honey or most granola’s contain over 20% sugar. Whilst Froot Loops, a cereal marketed at children, contain a whopping 41% sugar – that’s nearly 3 times more sugar than a McDonalds apple pie! The UK Food Standards Agency stipulates that a sugar content of 15% is considered high, and any food containing this amount should be limited.

Furthermore, since the 1930’s, packaged breakfast cereals have been produced via the method of extrusion; a process that ensures that a product has uniformity. For example, Cheerio’s are all the same shape and size. You can read about the process here.

Unfortunately this method uses high temperatures which damage important nutrients including raw food enzymes, vitamins and minerals. This is why cereals are often fortified with vitamins – otherwise they wouldn’t contain any at all! Furthermore, research shows that extruded grains are in fact toxic to the nervous system.

These high sugar commercially boxed cereals have been around for less than 100 years. You could call them a fad of the 20th Century! If you look at traditional breakfasts from around the world – eggs, beans and corn tortilla in Mexico, Dosa (lentils pancake) in India, and rye bread, meats and cheese in Germany you’ll get a better idea of what we should be eating.

But how can we get a healthy filling breakfast without busting the budget?

My answer is OATS! A traditional Celtic breakfast!

Melissa eating oats and strawberries for breakfastOats are a modest grain yet highly nutritious! One cup of oats will supply nearly 70% of your daily needs for manganese, a mineral that helps enzymes in bone formation. You’ll also get a generous helping of vitamin B1, magnesium and potassium.

Among all grains, oats have the highest proportion of soluble fibre. This type of fibre absorbs water and substances associated with high blood cholesterol on transit in the gut. Studies show that people with high cholesterol who eat just 3 g of soluble fibre per day can reduce their total cholesterol by 8%!

Also good for digestion, the fibre in oats sweeps like a broom through the intestines, moving food effortlessly along and helping to prevent constipation. Studies show that people with reflux and heartburn who eat a high fibre diet  experience fewer symptoms.

We love porridge in our house hold. My daughter has eaten it since she was a baby, and we have it for breakfast most days sprinkled with nuts, seeds and natural yoghurt, or Melissa’s preferred way – with peanut butter (see our frugal home-made peanut butter recipe here). If you’re not a fan of porridge you may want to try this simple flapjack recipe to receive the benefits of oats.

frugal bubble and squeak brunch recipeAt weekends, with a little more time on our hands, our preferred brunch is eggs using beautiful farm eggs from Headington Farmers Market. Our budget bubble and squeak and poached egg (recipe here) or our Mexican spicy eggs on a corn tortilla with guacamole (recipe here) are firm favourites!

If you have a favourite budget breakfast or brunch please do share the idea or recipe here. Thanks for reading!

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