Food & Nutrition, Getting Started

Breakfast of FI Champions – Part 2: Overnight Oats

I wish my Overnight Oats looked this amazing each morning

This is my second post in a series: Breakfast of (aspiring) FI champions: Making a nutritious and filling breakfast to fuel your FIRE with Overnight Oats.

We started in part one with the coffee, now we’re moving on to the actual food.

Overnight Oats: I got this idea from a write-up in the Costco magazine that turned up in the mail at the beginning of the year. I’m sure I had seen it elsewhere a few other times before, but this time it really looked like an appealing option. I also think Overnight Oats are now starting to get some traction with a broader audience in recent months; my wife mentioned to me that her co-worker was also recently singing the praises of overnight oats, and diligently making up a batch in the afternoon to keep in the staff room fridge for his breakfast the next morning.

My base ingredients:

  1. Raw Oats – Half a cup
    1. I’m using Quaker Oats “Old Fashioned”, which cost me $3.99 at Wal-Mart for 42 ounces (2lb 10 oz, or 1.19kg)
    1. I previously had a smaller container of Quaker Oats “Steel-Cut”, and I think to be honest I liked them better. I suspect it was the way that they were cut that helped them to absorb more of the liquid overnight and provide a better consistency.
  2. A milk product – 2/3’s of a cup
    1. I’ve tried both 1% milk and almond milk
    1. My preference is currently “Almond Breeze Unsweetened Chocolate” (40 calories / serving) which set me back ~$3.50 for a half-gallon carton from my local “Stop and Shop” store.
    1. I just bought some unsweetened Walnut milk for a similar price and I’m excited to explore what this will taste like with my next batch
  3. Yogurt – Half a cup
    1. I’ve bought Chobani Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt from our BJ’s store at $4.99 for a 40 oz (2.5lb, 1.13kg) tub.

Other ingredients to consider:

  • Chia Seeds: these are packed with omega fats and I’ve been adding a teaspoon or two to each batch; thankfully we had them in the cupboard already
  • Vanilla essence: If you really enjoy an extra kick of vanilla flavor
  • Spices: I enjoy exploring the addition of spices like ginger or cinnamon to my batches
  • Hot chocolate mix: I enjoy adding a teaspoon of dark chocolate hot cocoa mix for just a bit of sweetness to improve the taste of it all
  • Nuts: I added some glazed pecan pieces in one recent batch and enjoyed the crunch and slight sweetness 
  • Fruit: I’ve also sliced up banana and put it into the mix as well. Keep in mind any fruit you add should really be consumed within 24 hours. When I mix up the base ingredients, I’m generally fine with them sitting for up to 48 hours.

Nutrition and Cost

Now I’ve made some choices in the ingredients to keep things pretty low in sugar, but the nutrition of these ingredients combined makes for a pretty stunning and comprehensive meal. By my calculations from the base ingredients in the proportions that I’ve detailed above, this gets us to:

  • ~240 calories per serving
  • 17 grams of protein per serving
  • 4 grams of dietary fiber per serving (from the oats)
  • 4 grams of natural sugar per serving (oats and yogurt)
  • 3 grams of monounsaturated fats and 1.5 grams of polyunsaturated fats
  • ~$0.93 / per serving (Oats = 13 cents, Almond milk ~30 cents, Yogurt ~50 cents)

Personally, I think these is some pretty impressive nutritional statistics for a healthy start to the day. One of my favorite aspects of using these Overnight Oats is that it is a very filling and satisfying meal, and I don’t feel hungry for many hours, which has in turn reduced my snacking before lunch.

I also just picked myself up some mason jars at Wal-Mart to make my oats in moving forward. To date I had been mixing them up in coffee mugs and covering them with aluminum foil while in the fridge.

A fresh batch of my real world Overnight Oats ready for the refrigerator

A cold breakfast combo for a FIREY appetite!

I’m not eating this for every single breakfast, but I have eaten these most mornings, and particularly during the work week since the beginning of 2019. I do have a personal goal to lose some weight this year, and I suspect a regimen like this could help me to reach those targets.

That takes my breakfast combo of Overnight Oats at 93 cents, and my Cold Brew Coffee at 26 cents to a grand total of ~$1.19 per breakfast.

In conclusion, I feel like this breakfast is a solid step forward from a financial and health perspective. Have you tried Overnight Oats yet? If so, what other ingredients are you using to make them delicious?

Food & Nutrition, Getting Started

Breakfast of FI Champions – Part 1: The Coffee

The fuel for my morning commute

This is my first post in a series: Breakfast of (aspiring) FI Champions: Making smarter choices with your coffee consumption can improve both your wallet and health.

Welcome to the Breakfast of FI Champions series, and to kick things off, coffee is deservedly the foundation of this discussion around breakfast choices. I need my coffee to get going in the morning, like many of us do, and specifically I prefer iced coffee; and yes, I generally prefer it even through the frigid temperatures of winter.

There was a time years ago when I would try to regularly stop in at Dunkin Donuts a mile or so from my office and order myself a large iced coffee, and if I was feeling extra extravagant, an old-fashioned donut to boot. As time went on, I slowly came to the realization it was no good for me or my wallet and this couldn’t continue.

In recent years I have developed a taste of cold brewed coffee. There is something about it that seems to reduce the bitterness of the coffee, and as a result I can happily drink it straight without any sweeteners or dairy. I captured this image in our local Walmart today and this is by far the tastiest brand of packaged Cold Brew Coffee that I have ever tasted: StŌk. I would highly recommend trying it as a special treat, my personal favorite is the green labeled un-sweet flavor. There is just something about how smooth and tasty it is without any flavoring agents or anything. However, at the end of the day its just too cost prohibitive for everyday consumption.

Stok Cold Brew was less expensive than my Dunkin Donuts habit,
but I needed to bring my daily coffee costs down even further

Even though $4.42 per bottle would get me ~3 servings and that was roughly what I was paying for a single Dunkin Donuts coffee, it still wasn’t entirely satisfying; there had to be more I could do to optimize my coffee drinking while supporting a more economical approach.

Then came my own cold brew kit from Amazon with a metal filter and enormous glass mason jar. At this point, I’m buying 45-ounce bags of Dunkin Donuts coffee at Costco, and brewing up two jars worth per week; I find that I get about three large coffee servings out of each jar, so I need the second one to safely get me through the week.

The bag of coffee ordinarily costs $17.49 for 45 ounces, and I generally use 12 tablespoons per jar that I’m brewing up, which the internet tells me is ~2 ounces of coffee, so this works out to about $0.78 / jar of cold brewed coffee, or about 26 cents per morning serving (assigning zero cost to my water and ice) 😉

Preparation and Process

I tend to brew it up on a Sunday evening, and Monday morning I’ll pull the filter out and dispose of the coffee grinds, top up the jars with water, and I’m ready to roll for another week.

I also really enjoy my tall 24 ounce vacuum sealed Contigo travel mug during my one hour plus commute. It has an amazing ability to keep the coffee cold; there are often days where I still have ice cubes rock solid at the bottom of the mug after sitting there all day long. The push button auto-seal function also does a great job of keeping me from spilling it on myself as I drive along.

I could always find less expensive brands of coffee, but at 26 cents a serving I’m feel pretty good about my morning cup of Joe being pretty economical and helping me get to FI a little faster. I also have to be reaping some health benefits by cutting out the dairy, sweetener, and occasional donuts that were consumed in my earlier morning routine from a few years ago.

What does your Breakfast of FI Champions look like from a coffee or morning beverage perspective? How are you handling coffee consumption to better align with you goals of becoming FI?