The cost of breakfast

August 8, 2009

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. So having agonised about expensive shoes, let me tell you just how minutely I have costed breakfast.

I pretty much always have porridge for breakfast. I like it, it’s quick and easy, healthy by all accounts, and I never feel full with the alleged serving size of more processed breakfast cereals.

One kilogram of whole-grain rolled oats costs $3.58, as of this morning at the Kilbirnie Pak’N’Save. One bowl of porridge requires half a cup. Half a cup weighs 55 grams. Two litres of Budget Slim milk costs $3.05, and I put about 100 ml on my porridge, so it follows that:

  • one bag of oats provides 18 breakfasts;
  • each breakfast requires 20 cents’ worth of oats;
  • each breakfast requires 15 cents’ worth milk, therefore…
  • … porridge for breakfast costs 35 cents

This doesn’t account for the pinch of salt or the electricity used to cook the porridge, but trust me, they’re about a cent.

Occasionally, I like Weetbix, just for a change.

One kilogram of Weetbix is on special at the moment, for $3.78. I need three Weetbix to feel as though I’ve eaten enough, and that weighs 45 grams. I have more milk with Weetbix, about 200ml, so it follows that:

  • one box of Weetbix provides 22 breakfasts;
  • each breakfast requires 17 cents’ worth of Weetbix;
  • each breakfast requires 30 cents worth of milk, therefore…
  • … Weetbix for breakfast costs 47 cents

It’s worth 12 cents for a little variety.

In conclusion, a rigorous cereal regime should cost less than $165 per person annually. In fact, if you ate some fruit for vitamins, you could probably live quite well on an extremely frugal porridge-based diet. Look out for my new book The Diet Secrets of the Scots — How I Lost 20 Pounds And Saved Thousands Of Dollars With Porridge.

I guess this is my long-winded way of telling you that Pak’N’Save has really cheap Weetbix right now, best before July next year so you have plenty of time to eat your massive stockpile, but that nothing beats porridge.

PS: I am experimenting with bold text. Some say this is a crucial part of effective writing for the web. I cannot help but feel it makes a post read like a really schlocky direct mail sales pitch.



  1. Funfact: the ancient Scottish universities had a tradition called Meal Monday, a long weekend that allowed students to go home to fetch a sack of oatmeal to sustain them for the remainder of the month.

    Only Sassenachs have milk in their porridge, which means I am saving 15 cents.

  2. Weel, I dinnae tak milk IN ma porridge, more ON my porridge, so that there is a delicious gelid mass swimming in the milk.

    The benefit of having a partitioned ethnic identity is that just as it is the Anglo-Celtic half that eats the bacon, it’s the Jewish-Saxon three quarters that adds the milk to porridge.

    But in any case, surely we can stand united against the decadent addition of brown sugar.

  3. That we can.

    Incidentally, your example has prompted me to make bread. No more shall I buy loaves.

  4. actually… the most popular page on object dart is “how to make porridge” (#3 on google!!)


  5. hmm,

    My current morning meal goes something like this

    – Bowl of porridge w/water
    – Tin of tuna (in water)
    – 2+ pieces of fruit

    Haven’t done the math on how much damage this does to the wallet… or health, but it seems to be balanced enough and takes all of 2 minutes to prepare.

  6. It might be instructive to think of how much damage eating the tuna does to the planet.

  7. not to mention the tuna.

    you know that bluefin tuna grow as big as the average dairy cow?

  8. You know that Bluefin tuna numbers have declined by 90% since 1976?

  9. “you know that bluefin tuna grow as big as the average dairy cow?”

    Well, they used to. Not so much anymore.

  10. To be very slightly fair, tinned tuna you buy in NZ is almost certainly skipjack, which is not nearly as endangered (though still on Forest and Bird’s yellow list).

    I must say I wasn’t expecting comments to head in this direction!

  11. either way, the oats is a better option that denuding the oceans.

    that or eat salmon! it’s farmed.

  12. Back to oats… I don’t like porridge, something about it disagrees with me, despite or because of being raised on it every day of my childhood.

    But what I do find works well for me is uncooked oats, with a mix of soymilk and water poured over the top. I leave it to soak for about two minutes, then eat. Rolled oats have already been husked and hot steam cooked when you get them, so they’re certainly not raw. Slightly more expensive than plain porridge, but still much cheaper than other cereals and worth a try if porridge doesn’t work for you.

  13. Soaking oats sounds like Bircher muesli, which if you fail to soak over night you can microwave and have warm instead.

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