12 Healthy (and Frugal) Breakfast Alternatives to Cereal

Every year, over 2,500,000,000 boxes of cereal are sold! That’s enough cereal to build three great pyramids. Cereal manufacturers use an incredible 816,000,000 pounds of sugar yearly. (Source)

Of course, there are many cereals that are not heavily laden with sugar (and food coloring) but most do not compete with a fresh homemade breakfast.

Plus, the average box of cereal costs between $2 and $5… and my kids are begging for a snack about six and a half minutes after breakfast on the rare occasions I do serve cereal.

The problem is, cereal is so convenient. To paraphrase a marketing joke, “You can have it convenient, healthy, or frugal. Choose any two [or just one].”

A bowl of cereal is convenient, but it is rarely cheap or healthy.

These 12 breakfast ideas are more healthy and thrifty than most cereal. Some of them do actually meet all three criteria: convenience, health, and thrift. I arranged them roughly in order of convenience.

  1. Reheated Rice, Barley, or other whole Grain (2 minutes): Any time I serve rice for dinner, my children make sure we save enough for them to have leftovers for breakfast. This makes for a frugal and convenient breakfast. Just heat leftover brown (or white) rice, barley, quinoa, or other grain. Top with maple syrup or cinnamon sugar and fresh milk.
  2. Homemade Granola with Yogurt (2 minutes, once made): A great way to get more yogurt! Once the yogurt and granola are made, this breakfast takes just a minute to serve. (See Amy’s great tip for speeding up the granola prep!)
  3. Sliced Banana with Milk and Toast (5 minutes) Another of my kids’ favorite breakfasts: slice bananas and serve with milk (and brown sugar/maple syrup if desired.) Whole grain toast on the side helps make it filling.
  4. Yogurt Shakes (5 minutes): I make homemade yogurt on a regular basis. It’s easy to make and so full of beneficial bacteria. We eat it in some form multiple times a week: shakes is one of my favorite. Just blend yogurt, frozen fruit, juice/honey to sweeten, and a handful of spinach or other greens, if desired. (I added spinach recently and my 2-year-old was convinced I’d added green sprinkles.)
  5. Energy Bites (10-20 minutes to make/ 10 seconds once chilled): A yummy mix of protein, healthy fats, flaxseed, and chocolate, these energy bites make an equally delicious breakfast or snack. Once chilled, they’re even faster than cereal and so much healthier (and more filling!)
  6. Eppli Cakka (10 minutes): This delicious breakfast is a family favorite. Layer applesauce, granola, and freshly chopped apples (if desired). Top with whipped cream. Based on a Scandinavian dessert, eppli cakka makes a light and healthy summer breakfast. (View picture here.
  7. Egg Omelet (10 minutes): A great way to use up vegetables. Fry onions, olives, peppers, etc. in a bit of butter or coconut oil before adding eggs.
  8. Breakfast Burritos (15 minutes to make, 2 to reheat): Healthy, filling, and easy to make ahead. Just fill tortilla shells with scrambled eggs and your choice of hash browns, sautéed vegetables, sausage, bacon, cheese, etc. Serve fresh or wrap tightly and flash freeze. Then store well-sealed until ready to thaw and heat. (Homemade tortillas are delicious, but don’t freeze quite as well.)
  9. French Toast (15 minutes): This is a great way to rescue bread before it gets stale! As a commenter pointed out, not all french toast is healthy. I use homemade bread, dip it in eggs and milk, and fry. Once it’s golden, I top it with butter and real maple syrup.
  10. Whole Grain Muffins (20 minutes fresh/2 minutes reheated): Homemade muffins are a great way to start off the day with whole grains (yummiest and healthiest freshly ground!) These whole grain applesauce muffins and pumpkin/sweet potato muffins freeze very well. I usually serve them with homemade yogurt.
  11. Breakfast Casserole (Varies widely!)
  12. Whole Grain Pancakes or Waffles (30 minutes) They may be more work, but I’m sure to get lots of hugs and kisses on the mornings I make waffles or pancakes. Plus, it’s so easy to use a variety of fresh grains in pancakes (like these grain-free buckwheat pancakes). We usually alternate pancakes and waffles for our Saturday morning breakfast.

What are your favorite breakfasts? 

 Linked up at Teach Me TuesdaysTitus 2sdaysLiving Green, Healthy 2Day WednesdaysFrugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Thankful Homemaker,  Homemaking LinkupWomen Living WellWorks for Me, & Simple Lives

[Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.]

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  1. Nicole says

    Oh yum! I’m getting ready to make Pad Thai for dinner but you’re making me want a large breakfast instead 🙂 I usually have apples and cinnamon oatmeal with peanut butter for breakfast. It keeps me full until lunch and is such a warm comfort.

  2. Carl Walden says

    It is really important to eat breakfast. Eat breakfast like a king, dinner like a prince and supper like a pauper. I love your breakfast ideas, especially french toast, egg omelet and yogurt shakes. Althougth all of them are pretty interesting. Thanks!

  3. says

    Anna, you have a gift for offering helpful tips across the board! Every time I come here I walk away with another, tip, trick or recipe! Thanks so much! This was just the inspiration I needed to keep our breakfasts varied and healthy!

  4. says

    Thanks for the ideas. Life has been hectic lately, and I’ve really been struggling with getting a good breakfast on the table.

  5. says

    Thank you. I’m going to try the energy bites! I love making healthy muffins, like pumpkin or zucchini, and freezing them so they are easy to grab when you need them.

  6. Heather says

    Nice post and great ideas. We have oatmeal and eggs just about every morning. Got some great ideas now to change it up. Thanks!
    Heather @ourcultivatedlife.blogspot.com

  7. says

    Thanks for the useful ideas! So often, when I look at a list of breakfast ideas, they’re all cooked-from-scratch things that take an hour; I have to leave the house at 7:40 five days a week, so those don’t work for me. I appreciate that most of your ideas are quick to make or use leftovers.

    My favorite summer breakfast is Tomato Toast. Sometimes I top it with a scrambled egg or diced hard-boiled egg.

    • anna says

      Yum! Glad these ideas aren’t quite so time-consuming. I don’t have to leave for work, but spending an hour in the kitchen is a sure way to slow down the morning for me.

  8. Ashlea says

    Hi, Anna! This is Ashlea from church. Exploring your website today and found this post. Great ideas! So, I have a question. How do you re-heat rice? We’ve recently fallen in love with brown rice and I always have leftovers. Do you microwave it and how do you keep it from drying out? I’m thinking rice with maple syrup would go over really well with my boys.

    • anna says

      Sorry I didn’t respond sooner, it’s been a crazy week!

      WE dont’ have a microwave (no room in our tiny kitchen) so I just leave the rice in the pan, add a little water in the morning and heat it up on the stove (with the lid on.) It doesn’t take long at all to heat up, just make sure to stir it while it’s heating up. Hope you enjoy it!

  9. Myriah Christine says

    I spread almond butter on toasted oatnut bread, then top with sliced banana, whipped cream, and slivered almonds. Filling and delicious.

    • anna says

      That sounds delicious Myriah! Thanks so much for sharing—anything with whipped cream is a huge hit around here. 🙂

  10. anon says

    Anyone who puts french toast on a list of ‘healthy’ breakfast ideas clearly has no idea what they’re talking about.

    • anna says

      I make our french toast with homemade bread, milk, and eggs topped with real maple syrup. That seems pretty healthy to me. 🙂


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