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Guest Post: Easy, Frugal Breakfasts

Guest Post by Lynn from Lynn's Kitchen Adventures

Breakfast foods can be a major part of a grocery budget. It is just so easy to grab boxes of cereal, packages of instant oatmeal, or boxes of frozen waffles.

Yes, you can use coupons and sales to get these items for a good price, but even sale prices can add up when you have several children. Three hungry kids can devour a box of cereal quickly. At least I know mine can.

The main reason that people buy these items is usually convenience. My mornings, and I assume yours, are busy. We are all trying to start our day, get off to work or school, deal with crying sick kids, or
just deal with everyday home life. Whatever the reasons, I think we all struggle with preparing healthy frugal breakfasts for our families.

I have found that I do much better fixing a home cooked breakfast when I can prepare things ahead of time. It is much easier for me to make things the night before so that it only takes a few minutes during the morning rush. 

Two of my favorite things to make ahead are pancake and waffle batters. While you can make ahead and freeze pancakes and waffles, my family prefers fresh, hot cooked ones.

So, today I am going to share my family's favorite make-ahead waffle and pancake recipes. These recipes are were specifically created to be made ahead and sit overnight; they do best when the batter has sat for at least 8-12 hours. These are quick to put together the night before, then all you have to do is stir the batter and cook in the morning.

Whole Wheat Overnight Waffles

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cup warm milk (110 degrees)
8 tablespoons butter ( 1 stick)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl whisk the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt together. Gradually add remaining ingredients until well combined. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight for 12-24 hours. (You want to have plenty of room in this bowl because the batter will rise some. If your bowl is not big enough it may go all over your refrigerator!)

In the morning, cook on heated waffle iron for about 3 1/2 minutes each or until done. This may vary with each waffle iron so follow the directions for your specific waffle maker. Serve with butter and syrup and enjoy!

Overnight Pancakes

1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour (or use all all-purpose flour)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water; let stand for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Then beat in eggs, buttermilk, yeast mixture and oil. Cover and refrigerate for 8
hours or overnight.

To make pancakes, pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a greased hot griddle; turn when bubbles form on top of pancakes. Cook until second side is golden brown.

Lynn loves to cook and try new recipes. Lynn blogs at if you would like to read more about her adventures in the kitchen.

Note from Crystal: What are some easy and frugal breakfasts you like to serve at your home? I'd love to hear your ideas!

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  • Honey says:

    Besides the aforementioned cereal and oatmeal packets, we also like pancakes, boiled eggs, yogurt, toast with jam or peanut butter, crockpot steel cut oats, poptarts, smoothies, bagels with cream cheese, kefir & oj, cinnamon toast, french toast, quiche (made the night before), and english muffins. For the english muffins we like to mix up cream cheese, dried fruit bits, and nuts (like pecans or sunflower seeds) to spread over the toasted muffins. I also like to make homemade granola. Looking forward to getting ideas from others!

  • Elizabeth says:

    We do quick breads (made ahead of time) with cream cheese or honey,or freeze waffles ahead of time. I also buy bagels when they are marked down at the bakery outlet, and spread them with peanut butter ahead of time for a quick grab-and-eat.

    My kids are easy though.Their favorite breakfast is plain old toast with butter. 🙂 I am so blessed!


  • Alaina says:

    Thanks so much…I am so going to try this out!

  • Luci says:

    These sound delicious–thanks!

  • Cray says:

    for leftover corn beef from St.Patty’s Day
    Reuben Casserole

    5 cups uncooked egg noodles,
    3 tbsp. prepared mustard
    2 cans sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
    3/4 lbs. chopped corned beef
    2 cans cream of chicken soup
    2 cups shredded swiss cheese
    3/4 cup milk
    2 slices day-old rye bread
    1/2 cup chopped onion
    2 tbsp. butter, melted

    * cook noodles according to package. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the sauerkraut, soup, milk, onion and mustard.

    *drain noodles; stir into the sauerkraut mixture. transfer toa greased 13×9 in. baking dish. sprinkle with the corned beef and cheese.

    *place bread in a food processor; and process until mixture resembles coarse crumbs( or whatever you got to do). toss crumbs with butter; sprinkle over the casserole.

    *bake, uncovered, at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until bubbly.

    note: I put my extra cheese on then sprinke with the crumbs. Sooooo gooood!

  • Lucky says:

    My favorite is steel cut oats cooked overnight in the crockpot. Actually, I just did a post on my top ten favorite uses for oatmeal if anyone is interested!

  • Rebecca says:

    I don’t know how frugal it is, but *my* favorite is homemade yogurt with berries. Sometimes I’ll sprinkle a little Grape Nuts cereal or homemade granola on top for crunch. I could eat my creamy homemade yogurt everyday for breakfast!

  • Sandy says:

    I am so going to try this recipe. I am embarassed to say, I use Hungry Jack Light N’ Fluffy-Just Add Water mix. They are good, but they’re not homemade. These look yummy!

  • Christy says:

    We eat lots of breakfast tacos or taquitos here. Our local grocery chain makes really good flavored tortillas that freeze well. I also make homemade tortillas and freeze those, too. There are lots of great combinations for fillings that are quick to cook:

    bacon and egg

    potato and egg (when you cook potatoes for dinner, make a little extra and leave in large chunks to make tacos the next morning. You just have to heat the potatoes in a very small amount of oil or nonstick spray in your skillet before you add your eggs)

    ham and egg

    refried beans and cheese

    sausage and egg

    bean, bacon, hashbrown and cheese (DH favorite!)

    chorizo and egg

    carne guisada (which is just a chuck roast, cooked then shredded and mixed with gravy, not completely authentic but very tasty)

    The bacon can be cooked ahead in large batches in the oven and then frozen. The sausage can be cooked ahead, crumbled and frozen. The ham can be diced and then frozen. I cook a large roast in the pressure cooker, shred the whole thing and then freeze portions in the little Glad or Rubbermaid cups. You can have great tasting tacos in just a few minutes. Just thaw your “meaty” filling in the microwave (30 secs for bacon/ham/sausage or 1:30 for carne guisada). Pop the filling in a skillet and mix in your eggs to scramble.

    Now, there are two ways to heat tortillas that are really fast. One is to nuke the poor thing. The best way is to heat it in a skillet. What I do is pull out the correct number of tortillas before I fix breakfast. They thaw quickly at room temperature. I have a cast iron griddle (comal) that I use for heating/cooking tortillas and making grilled cheese sandwiches. You can also use anykind of skillet, but I prefer cast iron. Heat the griddle to medium to medium-high heat. Throw your tortilla on the griddle. You might see some bubbles start to appear on the top side (that’s good!). Let the tortilla sit for 10 seconds or so and then flip it to heat the other side. If the tortilla isn’t hot enough, flip it again and let it sit a little longer.

    I tend to make the filling first and then start heating the tortillas once the filling is almost done. Then I fill and top with cheese or pico de gallo.

    Pico de gallo is a fresh salsa. I use 1 small chopped or diced onion, 2 medium tomatoes, chopped or diced, 1 serrano or jalapeno pepper (fresh) seeded, and very finely diced, and 1/8 cup of cilantro, chopped. You can use more or less cilantro to taste. Mix all this together and enjoy. Is also great on fajitas, beans and just about anything else you eat.

    You can also use pico de gallo to make chilequiles. Put a small amount of oil in a skillet and a couple of tablespoons of pico. Saute until the onions are soft. Add in a couple of beaten eggs and scramble. When the eggs are almost done, mix in a few broken up tortilla chips and mix in. This can be eaten alone or as a taco in a tortilla.

  • Rachael says:

    We usually make muffins and then eat them for snacks and breakfasts for a couple days. Those pancakes and waffles look so yummy!

  • Donna says:

    Thanks so much for a great article and the recipes! MY kids love waffles and I am going to try the recipes.


  • Baked Oatmeal (or as my children call it “Blueberries & Oatmeal”)

    6 1/2 cups old fashioned oats (or 1 18 oz. container)
    3/4 cup brown sugar
    1 cup applesauce
    1 cup milk
    1 1/4 cup water
    4 tsp. baking powder
    1 tbsp. cinnamon
    1-2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

    Preheat oven to 350. Mix first 7 ingredients together in a bowl. Stir well. Coat 9×13 pyrex dish w/cooking spray. Pour blueberries into dish. Top with oatmeal mixture. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake additional 16-20 minutes (until browned). One recipe lasts about 5 days in our home. It’s best served warm. I microwave a square for each of us each morning.

  • Melissa says:

    We make pancakes every Saturday (a new tradition) and we make enough for the following week. My favorite recipe is for whole wheat pancakes- so easy, simple, cheap, and versatile! We’ve added everything from blueberries, to pumpkin, to chocolate chips (ok, that isn’t the healthiest!) But I really do love this recipe, if anyone is interested, I just posted about it about a month ago:

  • Bonnie says:

    Yogurt is a morning staple in our house. I love when I get double dollars at my grocery store and I can get a ton for free! Oatmeal is another. My kids are awesome about the taste too, I just microwave it with water or milk and add honey! Couldn’t be any easier.

  • Heather says:

    Just curious if anyone has any recipes for breakfast meals that do not include dairy. My daughter is allergic to dairy…can you replace the regular milk with Rice milk and it still turn out good? What can i use in place of eggs?

  • Jessica says:

    Cereal is our most frugal breakfast because I rarely pay more than .50 per box of cereal (this week I actually got 6 boxes of cereal and a gallon of milk for only .66 total!) I can’t beat that!

    We like to do pancakes and waffles on the weekends, and my husband occasionally has an egg, but otherwise I focus on keeping breakfast easy and cheap!

  • Susan says:

    Just a comment on waffle makers. I do not have the fancy kind that you turn over after filling with batter. My waffles never baked up tall like they should. Then I decided to try turning over my regular cheap waffle maker just after filling with batter. The waffles now bake up tall and fluffy, and browned top and bottom. Give it a try. Be sure to wear oven mitts!

  • Myra says:

    My favorite breakfasts are Crystal’s Baked Oatmeal, Egg and Cheese Burritos made by my wonderful husband and Egg Quiche. The egg quiche is SO easy. You place one layer of seasoned croutons (not caesar) in the bottom of a greased casserole dish. Sprinkle with cheese, crumbled turkey bacon and onions if desired. Pour an egg, milk, salt mixture (like you’re making scrambled eggs) evenly over that. I usually use 7-8 eggs. I also like to add salsa to the egg mixture for a little zing. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until center is set. This is SO good!

  • Cherlene says:

    As appetizing as all these recipes look, I would be bigger than the side of a house if I ate pancakes, waffles, eggs, etc for breakfast each morning. I’ll stick to my cereal and milk, which thanks to this website, I’m able to get on the cheap!

  • Honey says:

    Heather, I would google egg substitutes. I made a meal for my friend whose daughter’s are allergic to everything. I learned that banana and ground flax can sub for egg when you need it as a binding agent. If it’s needed for levening, there are other substitutes. Hope that helps!

  • The Tightwad Gazette’s basic muffin mix that you can customize to any of the ingredients you have on hand is consistently a great bet!

  • Michele says:

    We generally just do cereal and milk here. Sometimes toast and butter or bagels and cream cheese. On weekends we may have waffles or eggs. Nothing fancy!

  • Lucky says:

    One more thing — I forgot about smoothies. During the summer when I have a ton of fruit around I chop it up and freeze it in muffin tins. Once they’re frozen I keep them in a ziploc bag. They’re just the right size to fit in a cup, and I just make one smoothie at a time with my immersion blender.

    Also, I’ve frozen the Breakfast Tortilla Strata from Cooking Light before. I love this one because you make it 8 hours ahead of time; I just make two at a time and freeze one unbaked after it has sat for the 8 hours:

    This is a good one because eggs are on sale everywhere due to Easter.

  • Jenelle says:

    Christy—do share how you make homeade tortillas!

  • Sara says:

    In response to Heather –
    I am currently having to be dairy-free, egg-free, and peanut-free due to allergies that my nursing infant has. I have discovered some tricks…
    Soy milk replaces milk perfectly in all of the recipes I have tried.
    Also, milled flax seed (found near the flour at the grocery store) replaces eggs in a recipe. Use 1 TBS. flax seed with 3 TBS. water to replace one egg.
    These substitutions have been life-savers for me!

  • Darlene says:

    We really enjoy Quick Quiche. I posted the recipe here:

  • Sherry says:

    Our favorites are smoothies, oatmeal, muffins, toads in a hole/Egyptian Eyes/egg in a hole, omelettes, make your own breakfast tortillas – eggs, cheese, salsa, onions, peppers, etc. 😀

  • Amy says:

    Unlike most kids, I grew up LOVING homemade oatmeal. My dad’s oatmeal was the BEST, and better yet, it didn’t cost my parents much. Oatmeal doesn’t have to be expensive if you make it yourself.
    Dad’s secrets:
    Before you put in the oats, steep a harvest spice tea bag in the water for a couple of minutes – the oats will absorb the flavor.
    Cook butter, milk, and brown sugar into the oatmeal instead of adding them later.
    Cook until thick (but not sticky) and add just a little milk when you serve it.
    It’s delicious!

  • ADollarSaved says:

    I usually make oatmeal with sliced banana. Inexpensive and yummy!!

  • Dacia Carter says:

    My son has food allergies (dairy, nuts, wheat, and soy). I have been so thankful to bloggers who post recipes! My entire family absolutely loves Crystal’s baked oatmeal recipe. We have, however, tweaked it to meet our needs (rice milk in place of dairy, use coconut oil in place of vegetable oil, and replace sugar with agave nectar). Also, I recently found a great recipe on Allrecipes for Egg Muffins. These have been wonderful since we have to avoid so much. The recipe is soooo simple: 12 eggs, 1 lb browned sausage (we use turkey sausage), 1 small can green chiles, Mix all together and bake in muffin tins. We just made up a triple batch this week to freeze. Excellent reheated! I played with the recipe a little to stretch it and used rice milk to stretch them a little and less sausage. You can’t tell the difference. You could add a little cheese if you wanted.

    Also, for anyone else with wheat/gluten allergy, we recently discovered a great muffin recipe using quinoa. I also made a bunch of these up and froze for my son, to avoid the high dollar mixes. Banana-Quinoa Muffins (from Ancient Harvest Quinoa box) 1/2 c quinoa flour, 1/2 c quinoa flakes, 2 Tbsp honey, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 very ripe bananas, 2 eggs. Mix dry in one bowl, wet in another, add wet to dry , and bake 400 F 20-25 min in greased muffin tin.


  • MItzi says:

    My husband and kids love Johnny Cakes and they are so cheap.

    In a bowl, mix 1 cup of cornmeal, 1 t. salt and 1 t. sugar

    In a small pan bring one cup of water and 2 T butter just to a boil. Whisk into the cornmeal mixture.

    Stir in 1/2 c. milk.

    Drop onto a greased hot skillet and brown on both sides. Serve with syrup.

  • Christy says:


    I have used two different flour tortilla recipes. Our family favorite is:
    With this one, I NEVER use all the water it calls for. Mix in about 3/4s of the water, then add more as needed.

    These were also good and use oil instead of shortening:

    When you cook these, cast iron is the way to go. As they cook, I stack the tortillas in a dish towel on a plate. When all the tortillas are done, flip the stack over and eat the oldest ones first.

    I MUCH prefer these to store bought. I live in San Antonio, Texas, the land of the homemade tortilla. Before I moved to South Texas as a kid, I had never heard of a homemade tortilla before. I grew up in Dallas and everything there was machine made corn tortillas. BTW, homemade corn tortillas are SO, SO, SO good. My mouth is watering. My MIL always stores her tortillas in the fridge to make them last longer. They get stale quickly on the counter in a baggie.

  • Suzanne says:

    In addition to many of the ideas here, my kids love this recipe from Jane Brody’s Good Food Book:

    Rice Pudding Cereal
    3 c. cooked rice (leftover is great as long as it is plain)
    2 c. milk
    1 egg white and 1 whole egg (we usually double the recipe and use three whole eggs), beaten
    1 T. sugar
    1/4 c. raisins
    1/4 t. cinnamon
    Combine all in a saucepan, mix well, and cook over moderate heat, stirring often, until it has thickened (about 5 minutes after the milk reaches a boil).

    We like to add nutmeg and vanilla; you can use either white or brown rice, and additions like cooked quinoa and wheat germ also work well.

  • Melissa Pratt says:

    I love to make french toast on the weekend. One Sat we had a lot left over and I decided to wrap it up and save it for the next day. To my surprise it heats up wonderfully in a pop-up toaster and stays good in the fridge for about 5 days. So, now when I make french toast, I make enough for several mornings.

  • Tamara Price says:

    These recipes sound great. I have a question though…can anyone suggest a good waffle maker? I have purchased two already. The first one broke after the third time I used. It was cheap and so I wasn’t too upset. The second one does not cook evenly…everything burns. I would like to purchase another one but not sure which brand to go with. I am not looking to spend a lot of money. If anyone has suggestions, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks in advance.

  • marie says:

    We’re really into waffles here and english muffins. One kids won’t eat cereal at all and the other is so so on it. I guess we’re lucky neither are big eaters! I will have to try the pancake recipe thought; it looks yummy.

  • Erica says:

    I make big batches of French Toast, slice them ( like french toast sticks) Place them in ziploc bags freeze my kids can microwave them in the mornings then. Much cheaper and a bit healthier than the boxed variety!

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