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There may be a lot of ways to save money on food, but one of the simplest and best ways to save money is to have a good breakfast. This may sound like a simple thing, but it eludes many people, who rush off to work with a bagel and a coffee. A good breakfast accomplishes a number of important goals:
1. It gives you energy and keeps you alert. Most people realize that there’s a fine line beteen eating too much and too little. Both essentially have the same result – sluggishness. Failing to eat breakfast can cost you the energy that you need after your overnight “fast”. Even the name of the meal, “Break (Your) Fast” implies that you’re sitting down to a meal after fasting all night. You need those calories to reenergize your body and yourself.
2. Many of the tastiest breakfast choices are also healthy for you. As mentioned in #1, eating is important for energy’s sake. What types of food are best for you depend on your individual metabolism, but I think they fall into one of three basic categories:
a. The hearty breakfast: this breakfast is the most dangerous since the temptation to overload on food will be there. Bacon, eggs, toast, hash browns and other heavy foods fall in this category. My advice if you prefer this category is to stick to one type of food or the other, carbs or proteins. Carbs (toast, hash browns) will give you a quick burst of energy but may leave you hungry again later. Proteins (eggs, bacon) may not fill you up as much but will give you energy throughout the morning. Take it easy if you eat these. None of these foods are bad in moderation, but eating a rasher of bacon every day will eventually have some consequences.
b. The convenience breakfast: cereals, grits, oatmeal and other “bowl foods” are an easy way to start your day. Make sure you read serving sizes! A bowl of cereal does not mean a bowl poured up to the rim with flakes. Try measuring out a cup using a serving size measuring cup. It is not a lot of food. If you really love cereal, this breakfast is OK, but it usually won’t be enough for a full day. Try to eat a small amount of these bowl foods along with some fruit. The fruit will add some flavor, provide some vitamins and add to your sense of being full without adding massive amounts of calories.
c. A “non-standard” breakfast. A grapefruit, a bowl of rice, olives, mixed veggies and other “different” breakfasts fall in here. I remember eating cheese, butter and bread with a slice of kielbasa every morning while living in Germany. As an American I thought of it more as a sandwich, but it was a good solid breakfast. Once in a while at home I have what I jokingly refer to as my “Mediterannean Breakfast” – olives, cheese, maybe a slice of bread. There is no need to eat “breakfast food” for breakfast. Eat pasta if you like carbs! Eat some turkey and cottage cheese! Eat a salad! Try to think past eggs and toast.
3. It makes you happier. Let’s face it, if you start the day with a healthy, filling, pleasant breakfast your morning is going to seem more pleasant. I used to be a big fan of grabbing a bagel on the run so I could sleep an extra 15 minutes. Get up a little earlier and fix yourself a nice breakfast. Have it with some tea or coffee. Don’t read the morning news, but open a window or better yet sit on the porch or balcony if you have one. Make breakfast a smooth start to the day instead of a jarring mass of calories jammed down your throat. You’ll be surprised how much more relaxed you’ll feel all day.
4. It saves money. Eating breakfast is a big money-saver. Failing to eat breakfast means that you’re going to be tempted to grab a coffee and a bagel, a Pop-Tart or a power bar around 11 am. Having a filling breakfast means you’ll make it to lunch without being tempted by junk food. Plus, you’ll have more energy, get your work done quicker and leave work earlier. Right?
So think about sitting down for a slow breakfast tomorrow and starting your day off better. In the same way that compound interest just builds and builds, putting a little effort into the beginning of your day can have a big payoff for your afternoon and evening!