More travel in recent years as well as becoming a weekend Dad have increased my expertise in breakfasts around the UK and the world.
It’s some years since I worked out having no breakfast, working my gonads off in a bank branch until 3pm and then rushing a Greggs something or other and doughnuts down my face was a driver of stress in my life. I eventually substituted it with toast and an earlier unhealthy lunch which, in turn, was replaced with weetabix or porridge and a protein rich salad for lunch. That last mix helped me lose seven stone in weight.
But this isn’t about breakfast at home. Eating this meal out of the house can be great.
Now that I don’t get the occasional cooked breakfast when travelling on business I’ve more than made up for that by introducing protein and carbs in other ways.
My Saturdays with Chris have moved from an occasional breakfast to one every week. McDonalds used to be my core breakfast out. But even a double sausage and egg McMuffin doesn’t do it for me now. It remains the default drive and eat option for a distant footballing away day.
The cost effective breakfast option is Wetherspoons. Less than £4 for a breakfast wrap brought to your table and unlimited coffee too. And not many pennies more to have a full English. As I sit there at 10am wondering how they make a profit in this, I admire the number of people at the bar ordering pints and cocktails. It rather answers my question!
Toby Carvery is next up. £4.29 for unlimited cooked breakfast. It’s probably my favourite budget brekkie although it lets itself down with the oddity of onion infused Yorkshire puddings and reusing the previous night’s roast potatoes rather than having proper hash browns. £2.09 for unlimited coffee is a bit of a liberty too, although they often have a £5 weekday offer available that includes the drink.
Greggs now serve up a value takeaway option of £2 for a bacon and sausage roll with a hot drink, increasing to £3 if you’re at a motorway services. Handy when you’ve got a train to catch from Manchester Piccadully when there’s a Greggs just outside!
My travels have also exposed me to the joys of more hotel and B&B offerings.
Kraków saw a £2 a day supposedly continental breakfast with numerous varieties of dead pig included. Best value by a mile. Iceland included a fairly basic cereal, toast and croissant option. It’s amazing how much cereal and toast you eat when a lunch will cost you £20! Ljublana gave similar, but I wasn’t worrying about lunch costs there so didn’t overdo the consumption.
My Eindoven hotel last week wanted €12.50 for a continental. I declined, opting instead for McDonalds at €4.95 which included an egg and sausage McMuffin, croissant, coffee and an apple juice. The bottled juice basically helped me avoid dehydrating later in the day. No hash brown!
The inclusive breakfast at Holiday Inn Express is particularly good value if you’ve only paid £39 for a family room packed with your kids. Even if hot food is restricted to sausage, beans and scrambled egg. Although their Antrim hotel has added proper bacon and mushrooms to that, so hopefully that will become a UK wide thing! The £29pp breakfast rate at the Hilton Park Lane wasn’t tested but our access to the executive lounge gave us a continental breakfast with bacon and scrambled egg for free!
I’ve stayed in four bed and breakfasts in the last couple of years. I always forget to reject the tomato (it’s the devil’s food!) which seems to offend. Beans, black pudding and white pudding I’ll eat but without love. The rest is great, whatever the mix! Time restrictions are the weakness of the B&B. The first one in the Lake District was 8.30am to 9.00am or starve. I met the deadline. The other three got me to commit to a time of my choice but that can be a bit of a nuisance if you wake up early or just have the desire to lie in bed a bit longer. It is cooked to order so invariably better tasting than the chain hotel’s breakfast buffet.
The American motel breakfast is one of my favourites. Not because of the quality of the food (which isn’t great) but because of the nature of those South West driving holidays they really do set you up for a day on the road. Coffee to go and occasionally the excitement of a waffle machine or pancake maker to supplement the sugary cereals and peanut butter topped toasts.
I never have brown sauce or ketchup though. Shame on those who do!