Hot oatmeal “granola” with blueberries and walnuts: 42 cents/serving

For my money, this is the best breakfast you can make for under 50 cents (and I am of the mind that breakfast should never cost more than 50 cents, including coffee).  It’s got it all—fiber, protein, antioxidants—and it’s extremely filling. Try it and your instant eye-rolling at the mention of oatmeal (that is, if you’re one of those people, which is OK, because I used to be) may be in jeopardy.

Just a warning that this dish requires some microwave jujitsu. I used to have a microwave that made it perfectly each and every time, but when it broke I had to get a new one (the kind with those stupid “power level” settings) that never seemed to get it right, so you may need to fiddle a bit with the amount of water and “power levels,” if you’re unfortunate enough to be graced with the kind of microwave I have. You might well pour boiling water over it and proceed as directed below, but I’ve never tried it.

• 1 1/2 oz. frozen blueberries ($13.69/80 oz. at Costco): 26 cents
• 1/2 oz. walnut halves and pieces, broken up ($13.99/48 oz. at Costco): 15 cents
• 1/2 cup oatmeal (1 oz. @ 25 cents/lb.):  2 cents
• Enough water to sit just below the level of the oatmeal (you don’t want the oatmeal submerged): $0
Total: 42 cents/person

Put the oatmeal in a small microwave-safe bowl. Break up the walnut pieces and sprinkle both them and the blueberries evenly over the top. Pour in the water to the level described above, and microwave for 1 minute 30 seconds (on “power level” 10) or until the top of the oatmeal is dry and the berries are starting to lose liquid. Remove from the microwave and stir while mashing everything together with the back of a spoon—you want to crush all the blueberries so their liquid is released and coats the oatmeal. Mash and stir, mash and stir; nothing should be dry. This isn’t an exact science, but the final product should be clumpy, soft and uniformly purple, and the oats themselves should be cooked but still intact. Dig in!

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