If you haven’t yet calculated it, your breakfast is probably costing your family much more money than you think it is. Stop eating expensive breakfasts and switch to some cheap breakfast ideas. I’ll share the numbers of how much cereal could cost us and how much we actually spent last year on our inexpensive breakfast alternative (and how oatmeal can actually be yummy).
Cereal is Expensive
About once a month, we eat cereal for breakfast as a family. That’s right. Once a month. The last time we did this, I realized our family of five goes through the equivalent of one Costco box of cereal each time we eat cereal.
Let’s assume, because people sometimes travel and sometimes eat other things for breakfast, that we actually ate cereal 250 days a year.
A Costco box of cereal costs about $7-8, though we only buy it when it’s on sale, so we’ll assume we would spend $5/box on cereal (and we go through a box a day, so $5/day).
If we’re eating cereal every day, we would go through about 6 gallons of milk/month. Assuming a gallon of milk would cost $3/gallon, we would spend $18 on milk/month.
For 250 days of eating cereal (on sale!), we would spend $1250 on cereal alone ($1750 if not on sale!) and $216 on milk.
Total cereal costs for 250 days for 5 people: $1466
Daily cost: $5.86 or $1.17/person.
Oatmeal: An Inexpensive Breakfast Alternative
In 2016, we purchased 100 lbs of oat groats ($1.20/lb) and 100 lbs of 7-grain mix ($1.28/lb). In Alaska, buying these things in bulk is especially important for cost savings. 200 lbs of grain cost us a total of $248.
How to Make Yummy Oatmeal
Oatmeal can be gross. Let’s be up front about that. I can’t stand rolled oats. They turn into mush with a terrible consistency that’s hard to swallow. This is why we get the full groats and grains. They come uncracked and unrolled. We use our handy-dandy hand grain mill and grind them into barely cracked grains for thick, but not mushy oatmeal. The nice thing about this is that you can grind it as fine as or as coarse as suits your taste. When we want to get a good arm workout, we grind the wheat ourselves. We also pay our kids to grind wheat when they want to earn some money. However, when we just ain’t got time for that (ain’t nobody got time for that sometimes!), Mr. T has updated our wheat grinder to go a bit faster.
Oatmeal is naturally bland and a bit bitter, but adding sugar can get out of hand, so we use soy milk. It adds sugar and liquid to our oatmeal and sweetens the whole thing (I’ve tried regular milk and almond milk, but there’s still that bitterness in my opinion with those).
Now oatmeal with just soy milk is boring. So, we add bananas and frozen berries. Mix it all up and it’s both delicious and colorful!
How Much Does Oatmeal Cost?
In 2016, we used 200 lbs of grains for a total cost of: $248.
We go through one bag of frozen blueberries and one bag of frozen mixed berries per month at $17.78/month with a total annual cost of: $213.36
1.5 boxes of soy milk per month puts annual soy milk costs at: $287.82.
3 bunches of bananas (at $2.99/each) per month gives us annual banana costs at: $107.64.
Total annual costs of oatmeal for 5: $856.82.
Since we sometimes eat pancakes/waffles/cereal and we also sometimes travel, we’ll assume we ate oatmeal as a family 250 days this year bringing daily oatmeal costs to: $3.43 or $0.69 per person.
Amount We Save on Breakfast:
We save a total of $609.18 by not eating cereal most days and eating a delicious, nutritious oatmeal breakfast instead.
I wouldn’t be a successful personal finance blogger if I didn’t calculate the compounded power of our cereal savings! So, assuming a 7% return and assuming we invested our cereal savings monthly ($50.77), over 30 years, those cereal savings turn into $61,937.32! So, not enough to retire on, but a pretty good chunk of change.