Written by Kathryn Standing
Student Assistant, ISU Dietetics
It can be difficult to keep to a budget, keep yourself healthy and keep to your schedule. I have been trying to change my breakfast routine with the goal of reducing my stress and spending, all while being healthier. Easy right? If I pick up breakfast on the way to work from a drive-through, would it save me time and money? How healthy would it be? I tried a couple of fast food breakfasts near my home to see what I find and I’m sharing the low down with you.
Drive through breakfast
Time: 10 min — The fast food restaurant is about 6 min out of my way and the time through the drive-through was 4 min for a total of 10 min invested in my breakfast.
Cost: $ 2.59
Fat: 15 g
Saturated fat: 5 g
Cholesterol: 175 mg
Sodium: 640 mg
→ Comments: The sandwich was pretty good! I got crumbs all over my car, though. Plus, I couldn’t resist getting some breakfast potatoes, which I regretted later. If I had chosen this sandwich on a croissant instead it would have doubled my fat and added 160 calories!
Time: 12 min — The fast food restaurant is about 5 min out of my way and was very busy! The time through the drive-through was 7 min for a total of 12 min invested in my breakfast.
Cost: $ 4.19
Fat: 2.5 g
Sugar: 26 g, Added 18.95g
Cholesterol: 5 mg
Sodium: 125 mg
→ Comments: It was a good parfait, very sweet! It was also in a handy container. The fast-food restaurant I went to was very busy. I managed to get the last parfait, but I worry they would be out if I wanted to get one again.
At home breakfast
1 whole wheat English muffin – 1 egg – 1 slice reduced fat white American singles
Time: 7 min — It took me about 4 min to cook the egg and toast the bread, plus another 3 min for clean-up.
Cost: $ .56
Fat: 8.5 g
Saturated fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 196 mg
Sodium: 530 mg
→ Comments: This sandwich was very similar to the one I had gotten at the drive-thru, except I used the whole wheat version of an English muffin. The sandwich I made at home had better nutrition for me with almost half the fat and triple the fiber. Though the cholesterol was higher, I assume that is only because of a difference in the type and size of eggs used. The sodium was a little lower in mine, but this experiment does show that sodium is hard to limit sometimes.
½ cup plain non-fat yogurt sweetened with 1 tsp honey – ½ cup berries (frozen, thawed) – 2 T granola
Time: 5 min — It took me about 3 min to make, plus another 2 min to clean up.
Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 5 mg
Sodium: 80 mg
Sugar: 19.2 g,
Added sugars 6g
→ Comments: This was so easy to make. It has significantly less sugar and sodium, as well as more than double the fiber!
Verdict: Overall it was significantly cheaper to make the food at home. I saved $2.00+ on the sandwich and $3.00+ on the parfait, that’s over $5.00! $5.00+ per workday is equivalent to savings of over $100 per month! Both of my homemade items were a lot healthier for me too. The food from the fast food places was convenient, though I had to clean the crumbs out of my car later and it didn’t end up saving me any time. The largest downside for me was the temptation of all the other options available. Fried potatoes, whip cream coffee mocha-whatever-latte, and icing covered anything calling my name make it hard to stick to healthy eating. Overall the answer seems clear: skip the fast food breakfast and take the 5-7 min to make yourself something at home. Your wallet, your health, and your schedule will thank you.