Money Conversation: cost of breakfast

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Breakfast is the first meal of the day. I also used it as the first meal to explain to the children the real costs of eating out. Today, breakfast was the conversation starter. We had a delicious breakfast today, cooked by yours truly. On the smorgasboard were:

  • seasonal fruits (apples, mandarins, bananas)
  • Bacon and sausages
  • Pancakes
  • Tomatoes
  • Avocado smoothie
  • Coffee, tea and milk

Breakfast took less than 1 hour to prepare and serve. As we all sat down to eat together, I started by asking each person for $20.  Puzzled, they asked what for? Here is the start of our money conversation.  If we went out for breakfast and ordered the food we were eating, I would pay around $20 per person.

Breaking down the cost of breakfast

This is how I estimated the cost of each menu item (per serving):

  1. Fruit platter – $2
  2. Bacon and sausages – $5
  3. Pancakes – $3
  4. Tomatoes (I decided not to price this)
  5. Avocado smoothie – $7
  6. Coffee, tea and milk – $3

Total cost: $20

The total cost is only made up of the cost of ingredients. However, the biggest invisible cost is time – someone else’s time to cook and prepare the food for us.  When we go out to eat, it may be convenient for us because we don’t have to shop for the ingredients, prepare the food, cook the food and clean up. Someone else had to be paid to do it for us.

Save money: cut the takeaway

This is the reason why cutting out takeaway food is one of the most common ways to save money.  On the flip side, it is also why sometimes preparing our own meals may not be the best way to save money – it all depends on what else we’d be doing with the time if we didn’t have to shop, prepare, cook and clean up.

If, instead of preparing our own food, we would be working and are paid more than what we would have paid for someone else to prepare the food for us, then it may in fact be better if we spent that time working rather than preparing our food. But of course this focuses only on the money value of time.  Preparing our own food isn’t only about the time we spend.  It’s also about the nutrition value of the food as well as the intrinsic value we get from preparing our own food.

The children now understand why we often decline their request to ‘go out for breakfast’ – and it’s not simply because we’re too lazy to get dressed and leave the warm home!

Do you talk to your children about the cost of the food they eat?