3 Easy, Healthy, Yummy No-Bake Breakfast Ideas

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These three recipes prove that one cheap staple can yield a seemingly endless variety of quick and nutritious meals.

Sometimes oatmeal gets a bad rap, the word evoking images of bland porridge.

But the simple oat lays the foundation for a seemingly endless variety of delicious breakfast options that are also cheap, quick, and healthy.

A 2-pound canister of rolled oats costs a few bucks. Yet research shows this whole grain can help lower bad cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and fight high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and weight gain.

So we’ve rounded up three cheap, quick, and customizable no-bake examples of oat-filled breakfasts.

Just be sure to start with the right kind of oats: old-fashioned, not instant. Old-fashioned oats generally cost the same and actually cook pretty quickly (about two minutes in the microwave), but they’re healthier because they have a lower Glycemic Index rating than instant oats (55 vs. 83). That basically means that old-fashioned oats won’t cause your blood sugar levels to rise as quickly, which leaves you feeling fuller longer.

Energy balls

energy ballsEnergy balls (Photo: Flickr/B*2)

This bite-sized, protein-packed finger food is a personal favorite. For hectic weeks, I make it on Sunday, putting several balls into five resealable bags, so I can gobble them on the go each morning. (They keep in the refrigerator up to a week.) The rest stay in the fridge for snacks – although in my house the leftovers are usually gone the same day I make them.

The basic recipe is oats, peanut butter, and fixings rolled into balls. But the Internet abounds with recipes for energy balls (also called energy bites) because they’re flexible – and popular. I like the Smashed Peas and Carrots blog’s recipe, but it’s not necessarily any better than others.

Custom options: Any nut butter can be substituted for peanut butter. As for the fixings, the recipe I use includes ground flaxseed and mini chocolate chips. But the author says, for example, that wheat bran works as well as flaxseed, and chopped nuts or dried fruit can replace the chocolate chips.

Cheap options: Buy house-brand oats and nut butter – peanut butter is usually cheapest. When fixings are flexible, pick the cheaper option or whichever you already have in your cupboards.

On-the-go option: Toss them in a bag.


museliMuesli (Photo: Flickr/TheBittenWord.com)

Also known as overnight oatmeal, this dish can be prepared in less time than it takes to microwave oatmeal. But instead of softening oats with heat, you soak them in milk and add toppings in the morning.

The basic recipe is equal parts oats and milk, but a search for “muesli” or “overnight oatmeal” will yield endless versions, some of which substitute yogurt for milk. I like Dr. Oz’s Muesli Power Breakfast recipe because it’s simple but includes ground flaxseed for added nutrients.

Custom options: Dr. Oz tops his muesli with fresh berries, almonds, and walnuts, but your topping options are plentiful. Any fruit in any form – fresh, dried, or canned – will work. As will any nut or seed. If you like your oatmeal sweetened, try honey, maple syrup, or your sweetener of choice. If you’re vegan, use almond milk or soy milk.

Cheap options: Buy house-brand oats and milk, and pick canned fruit over fresh fruit.

On-the-go option: Make it in a Tupperware container and bring a spoon.

Granola parfait

Yogurt + granola + fruit = a complete meal in seconds. You don’t even have to measure anything.

Custom options: This “recipe” works with any flavor, type (like regular and Greek), and brand of yogurt. Topping options are again plentiful (see the muesli custom options). For a more cereal-like breakfast, substitute milk for yogurt. For more topping inspiration, just do a search or an image search for “yogurt parfait.”

Cheap options: Buy house brands, grab granola at Walmart instead of Whole Foods, and pick canned fruit. Although no matter how you make it, your homemade granola parfait will cost a fraction of the ready-made varieties commonly sold at breakfast stops like Starbucks, Einstein Bros. Bagels, and McDonald’s (which are usually overloaded with sugar).

On-the-go option: Make it in a Tupperware container and bring a spoon.

Stacy Johnson

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