Breakfast shouldn’t have to be brokefest

By Amy Schulman
Updated February 13, 2018
Credit: Photo by H. Armstrong Roberts

College comes with a lot of tough responsibilities: waking up in time for class, not letting your body get to the point that it’s entirely made of beer, and, when you finally move out of the dorms, learning how to cook yourself meals that are somewhat edible. While you’re studying and partying and having a grand old time, these “best four years of your life” can be, in reality, quite expensive. You might be working an extra job to pay for school, or choosing other necessities to spend your money on. Either way, there are times when you’re probably feeling broke AF, and when it comes to breakfast, rather than have to figure out a cheap breakfast, it’s easy to toss the meal aside in an attempt to save some cash.

Eating breakfast in college doesn’t have to be an expensive Sunday brunch out. And it doesn’t have to be just coffee, either. In fact, if you plan carefully and arrive prepared at the grocery store, you’ll end up saving money and walking away with food that won’t make you pass out in the back of your 300-person 8 a.m. lecture. So stop skipping the most important meal of the day and try these 13 breakfasts even when you’re broke in college.


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Fruit is a no-brainer. On average, the cost of bananas are around 50 cents per pound, while apples are a little more than a dollar per pound. Buying fruit in season is always the way to go, and shopping at local farmers markets will get you high quality produce for not a lot of money.

Granola Bars

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Undeniably an easy, on-the-go breakfast, a 12 pack box of granola bars will only set you back $5, depending on the brand.


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Don’t push your nose up at yogurt when it comes to the monetary value. Yes, some styles and brands have a higher price point than others, but there are a ton that are pretty inexpensive. Plus, buying the grocery store brand is always a little cheaper. Toss in some nuts, or a drizzle of honey or jam—whatever you’ve got in your fridge—to spice it up.


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A box of cereal will undoubtedly last you awhile without having to break the bank. Sure, it may not be as exciting as soft scrambled eggs with caviar and herbed crème fraîche, but it’s quick in the mornings and undeniably cost-efficient.


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Making smoothies when you’re broke might seem impossible, but it’s not. The $9 overpriced smoothies that are in vogue shouldn’t deter you from convincing yourself it’s too pricey to do at home. Whirl together whatever fruit you have on hand (frozen fruit works great too), and any leftover vegetables like spinach or kale.


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Eggs are super versatile, and you don’t need a lot of skill to step up from scrambled to over easy. A dozen eggs gives you breakfast for over a week, and provides you with the opportunity to practice your poaching technique.


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A brief run in the toaster turns day-old or stale bread into a perfectly suitable breakfast. Whether it’s just butter, mashed avocado, peanut butter, or soft-boiled eggs, toasted bread instantly becomes the vessel for whatever your stomach desires.

Three-Ingredient Pancakes

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Pancakes may seem impractical for a college student on a budget, but not when they only consist of three ingredients. That overripe banana sitting on your counter? Use it in this three-ingredient pancake recipe that’ll be hot off the grill in under ten minutes.

Overnight Oats

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Prepare your overnight oats right before you go to sleep. Rolled oats, Greek yogurt and whatever sweetener you have on hand—vanilla, sugar, and maple syrup all do the trick—go a long way for a cheap breakfast that’s already ready for you when you’re running late to class.


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Baking a dozen muffins may seem time consuming, but a handful of ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen quickly transforms into breakfast for the week. Store the extras in the freezer and zap them in the microwave before heading out to class.

Egg in a Bagel

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Take one of your dozen eggs and fry an egg in a bagel instead of putting your fried egg on top of your bagel.

Frozen Waffles

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A box of frozen waffles at your local grocery store won’t cost you more than $5. Warm ‘em up in the toaster and slather with peanut butter, Nutella, or jam.


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Don’t feel obligated to load your oatmeal with almond butter, chia seeds, and other expensive ingredients—it’ll taste just as good with some milk, cinnamon, and brown sugar.