What Is It About Breakfast?

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What is it about breakfast that makes it so cheap? Even when you eat out, breakfasts cost way less than other meals. Cutting back on the meat is what does it, most likely. I actually had what some people would consider to be two breakfasts today – the second one masquerading as lunch.

Cheap and cheerful: The best 20-cent breakfast around.

I’ve deployed the cheap and trusty oatmeal once again this year for almost every breakfast. I defy you to create a better 20-cent start to your day than a bowl of oatmeal with half a banana sliced on top.

For lunch, I scrambled two eggs and – I don’t know where this inspiration struck from – heated up some sauce left over from last night’s chicken. No meat, but it was full of flavorful bits of tomato, onion and garlic. It could have been a really weird combo, but was actually fantastic. Sublime, in fact. I added a piece of toast and a cave-man size rib of celery. Total satisfaction.

Secret sauce: Leftover from last night’s dinner, this sauce helped me pretend I wasn’t really eating two breakfasts.

A lucious afternoon snack of half a peach – another “free” item from my hypothetical food bank allotment – got me ready to go to yoga class (om, my, what a luxury!). But by the time I got home and finished cooking Corn and Potato Chowder for dinner, we were eating at 10 pm. I imagine this is what someone working two jobs has to deal with every day. And the unfortunate truth is, it takes time to cook healthy, cheap meals from scratch. But a McDonald’s dollar meal? Pretty fast.

Fashionably late? This soup was delicious, but I would have preferred to be eating it before 10 pm!

Corn and Potato Chowder

1/2 onion (“free” from the food bank), diced
2 ribs celery, sliced
Kernels from 4 ears of fresh corn
3 Yukon Gold potatoes (“free” from the food bank)
4 oz turkey bacon (trying to be healthier this year), cut in 1/3-inch slices
1 clove garlic, minced
3 C milk (or extra, depending on desired thickness)
4 small tomatoes (“free” from the food bank), cut in small wedges
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp thyme (I didn’t use this on the Hunger Challenge)
8 fresh basil leaves, torn (I didn’t use this on the Hunger Challenge)

Sautee the turkey bacon, onion, celery, corn and garlic in a large pot until softened and the onion is translucent. Meanwhile, pierce the potatoes and cook in microwave 5-6 minutes until done; remove and cool enough to peel. Mash potatoes with a small amount of the milk until they’re the consistency of sloppy mashed potatoes. Stir potato mixture and remainder of milk into the pot of vegetables adn turkey bacon. Bring to a simmer (but do not boil) and add tomato wedges. Simmer for 10 minutes. 4 servings.

This rich, chunky soup tastes wonderful, like the last memories of summer – and the potatoes do the job of thickening it without the need for any flour or cream.

The Bottomless Pit went rogue while I was at yoga class and ate some contraband cheese, in addition to a legit banana. And then there was that telltale empty wine glass in the kitchen…But the poor guy didn’t eat any lunch at all, so he probably came out OK for the day, despite his digressions.

Gayle Keck
Lowell Thomas Award-winner Gayle Keck has sipped fermented mare’s milk in Kyrgyzstan, dug for truffles in Italy, crafted wine at Napa Valley’s “Crush Camp” and munched her way through every continent except Antarctica, which seems far too focused on frozen food.

She has written for Gourmet, National Geographic Traveler, Zagat San Francisco Bay Area Restaurants 2010, and is a frequent contributor to the Washington Post and other major newspapers.

Gayle has visited 49 US states (sorry, North Dakota) and more than 40 countries - though her favorite trip was a flight from Chicago to San Francisco, when she met her future husband on the airplane. She also blogs at Been There Ate That
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