Eating a bowl of breakfast cereal every day delivers up to six times the amount of some key nutrients as other popular choices and will deliver savings of more than £800 a year, a new report which examines the cost and nutrient profile of Britain’s favourite breakfasts has found.
Eating on the go is increasingly common and nearly a third of adults say they struggle to find time to eat breakfast at home — but a new report for the Breakfast Cereal Information Service (BCIS) found that a year of grabbing a muffin and latte on the way to work can cost the equivalent of a holiday in the sun.
And this reliance on a breakfast quick fix has serious implications for our health as well as our wealth because a big breakfast spend may also be leaving big shortfalls on key nutrients such as iron, calcium, folic acid and thiamin (vitamin B1)
This double jeopardy emerged when leading dietitian, Azmina Govindji, compared the cost and value of 12 popular breakfasts including several breakfast cereals with milk, croissant and cappuccino, porridge, boiled egg with toast, muffin and latte, cooked breakfast and toast with butter and jam.
Breakfast cereals were the best value buy, with an average cost of just 22p per portion, compared to a hefty £3.88 for a muffin and latte, or £3.48 for croissant and cappuccino.
“So, for someone buying a takeaway breakfast daily on their way to work, this could add up to a whopping £853.60 per year, more than enough to enjoy a week’s holiday in the sun,” Azmina Govindji said.
And after calculating the cost to provide at least 15% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of selected nutrients — the amount required by law for a food to be described a ‘source’ — she found that cereals also deliver the biggest nutritional bang for your buck.
Breakfast cereals are typically rich in nutrients such as B vitamins, iron and vitamin D thanks to fortification while the accompanying milk provides calcium and protein. In contrast, muffins, pastries, cooked breakfasts and toast with butter can be high in fat and lower in vitamins and minerals.
She commented: “Just 16p buys you 15% RDA for iron from a portion of a typical breakfast cereal, but you would need to spend £7.49 on the croissant breakfast to achieve this.”
Put another way, the nutritional return on investment from a typical cereal is 4,710% better than it is from the fat- and calorie-laden croissant.
Equally, if you choose a cereal breakfast, 11p buys you 15% RDA for the heart healthy B vitamin, thiamin, whereas you would need to fork out £6.79 if you chose a muffin breakfast — giving cereal a 6,191% better nutritional return on investment.
Dr Carrie Ruxton, an independent dietitian and advisor to the BCIS summarised the results: “Studies show that breakfast cereals only provide 5 to 6% of our daily sugar intakes and are low in fat, while providing a significant amount of fibre if you choose high fibre brands.
“These findings show clearly that, on average, cereal breakfasts give you more nutritional bang for your buck and are a very affordable, healthy way to start the day, particularly if you are watching the pennies.”
The cost and nutrient comparisons for the breakfasts are shown below.
Cost per portion
|Breakfast type||Cost per portion|
|Average breakfast cereal with semi-skimmed milk||£0.22|
|Toast, butter, jam||£0.34|
|Egg and toast||£0.18|
|Traditional cooked breakfast||£1.40|
|Croissant and cappuccino||£3.48|
|Muffin and latte||£3.88|
Cost (£) per 15% RDA*
*RDA, recommended daily allowance
Nutrient data, as available, from three popular outlets’ websites were used for the coffee shop breakfasts (latte and muffin, and croissant and cappuccino).
Nutrient data for non-coffee shop breakfasts was based on accepted scientific sources and current on-pack and company website nutritional information.
Cost data was taken from www.mysupermarket.co.uk, and coffee shop outlets in Greater London area.
For more information, check out: www.breakfastcereal.org
The Breakfast Cereal Information Service is an independent information body; set up to provide balanced information on breakfast cereals. It is supported by a restricted educational grant from the Association of Cereal Food Manufacturers (ACFM).