If there's one thing the cheap-and-processed food industry is really good at (besides lobbying), it's marketing cheap food with a myriad of different flavors to keep the attention of child consumers. Case in point: I think there are approximately 5,000 flavors of Pop-Tarts. None of them are good for you, and they are all a little (lot) bit too sweet. But when a kid has so many delicious flavors to choose from at the grocery store, you can bet at least one of them will meet with satisfaction.
There are many things about processed food that I do not wish to emulate. But when it comes to making cheap food exciting, I'll take a page from their book. No, I don't mean breakfast pastries. I mean Oatmeal! The best part of this ploy is that dressing up oatmeal to make it more exciting as a breakfast staple makes you that much less dependent on processed quick breakfast foods.
Our latest variation is kid-friendly, parent-friendly (if you feel at all reminiscent about PB&J sandwiches from childhood), and dog-friendly (I mean, the dog will gladly lick the bowls clean if they smell like peanut butter). I also like that it balances all that carb-y oatmeal with some fat and protein to help us feel full longer.
Easy as can be:
1. Cook 1 part oatmeal (soak ahead overnight if you remember) with 2 parts water.
2. Mix in peanut butter (or whatever nut butter you prefer) and jelly (I love using up some of my ginormous stash of home-canned jelly from last summer).
3. Serve to starving family and self, and smile because you've used a giant food conglomerate's trick against them!