How on earth is this a money-saving tip? Eating a meal that many people skip? Really?
Believe it or not, eating a healthy and well-balanced breakfast can actually save you money, both on that day and over a longer period of time.
The big reason? There are many studies that indicate that breakfast eaters weigh less than breakfast skippers. That seems counterintuitive at first.
However, what often happens is that skipping breakfast leads to greater hunger, a large increase in snacking throughout the day, and larger meals at other mealtimes. More importantly, that hunger often convinces people to chase higher-calorie foods to replace the missed calories, which usually results in many more calories consumed in a given day.
Those extra calories have a short-term financial cost (you have to actually buy the food) and a long-term health cost (you’ll eventually pay for poor diet choices).
For me, the key is to eat a well-balanced breakfast. I try to eat at least three of the following for breakfast each day: a bit of fruit (like a banana), a bit of vegetable (like spinach or a pepper as part of an omelet), a bit of protein (an egg or two), a bit of nuts (like almond milk or a few walnuts or almonds), or a bit of whole grains (like a healthy cereal or whole-grain toast).
So, one day for breakfast, I might have an apple and a bowl of whole-grain cereal with almond milk on top. Another day, I might have a piece of whole-grain toast and a small omelet. On another day, I might eat a banana, a few walnuts, and a cup of milk. On yet another day, I might have a breakfast burrito (eggs and vegetables) wrapped in a whole-grain tortilla.
Why shoot for balance like this? The proteins keep you full. Nuts lower cholesterol and help with heart health. Whole grains reduce the risk of many diseases. Fruits and vegetables simply should be a very large component of your diet – they’re just great all-around. The more variety you eat, the more balanced your amino acid intake.
In other words, a balanced breakfast helps in the short term by reducing your calorie intake for the day, helps in the medium term by promoting weight loss due to that lowered calorie intake, and helps in the long term by improving your nutrition (along with the benefits of an appropriate weight).
(For me, at least, there’s another benefit: eating breakfast keeps both the mid-morning and mid-afternoon doldrums away. I seem to have a couple big energy valleys during the day when I skip breakfast and they’re either non-existent or barely noticeable if I do eat breakfast. Not having those doldrums helps a lot with productivity.)
The short term benefits directly impact the pocket. The fewer calories you consume while still feeling full and meeting your nutritional needs, the lower your food bill is going to be (in general, of course).
The longer-term benefits also impact the pocket through lower health costs. If you’re eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight, you’re going to significantly decrease your chances of poor health in the future. Health care can be very expensive if you’re treating chronic diseases like diabetes.
Eat breakfast. Your body and your wallet will thank you.
This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere. Images courtesy of Brittany Lynne Photography, the proprietor of which is my “photography intern” for this project.