Every working day, nearly five million people skip breakfast at home, opting instead to grab a snack as they dash into work. According to new research commissioned by The National Dairy Council (NDC), about one and a half million bacon sarnies, one million packets of crisps, three-quarters of a million ham sandwiches and half a million soft drinks are consumed in this way every working day – but at what price?

A heavy price as it happens – to our bank balances. The bacon sarnie, revealed as the top breakfast snack in the NDC’s research, plus a soft drink costs an average of £9.00 a week – so if you ate that every day, that could be as much as £19,000 over a working lifetime! We could save about £300 a year if we chose a yogurt and an apple instead.

Adding Value: The NDC research showed that over half of the working population still skip breakfast altogether – a false economy when you consider how long nutritionists have been drumming home the importance of breakfast. “You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a nutritious breakfast.” says NDC Nutritionist, Dr Anita Wells. “Breakfast is an important meal as it can influence the overall quality of a person’s diet. For example, a number of research studies have indicated that people who regularly eat breakfast cereal are more likely to consume their daily vitamin and mineral requirement than those who don’t.”

Counting Calories: According to the British Dietetic Association you should aim to get about 25 per cent of your calorie and nutrient needs from breakfast – about 500 calories for women and slightly higher for men. Early morning snacks identified in the NDC study, such as a bacon sarnie, almost reach the 500 calorie mark but can be high in fat. Over half a million people grab chocolate bars or sweets on the way into work but these are high in sugar and low in most essential nutrients. You would be much better off starting the day with a meal that includes breakfast cereal. Not only does it help to ensure your diet contains the correct balance of essential nutrients, it is also likely to be cheaper than some less nutritionally complete alternatives.

Favourite Snacks Around The UK: The healthiest breakfast snackers are people in the South. Southerners are much more likely to eat breakfast before leaving for work than Northerners. The Scots’ favourite breakfast munch is a cold meat sandwich and Londoners are twice as likely to grab a muesli bar than people in the North – 16% of people who grab snacks in the capital go for this option. Although Midlanders are the least likely to eat breakfast before leaving work, they are the most likely to opt for the nutritious and great value option of a glass or carton of milk.

As far as drinks are concerned, around one in ten of us grab a soft drink – which give us hardly any nutritional benefits – so why not consider swapping those soft drinks for a glass of milk instead. Milk is a far better option as it is a snack in itself – a great source of protein and rich in a whole range of vitamins and minerals especially vitamins B2, B12 and calcium, better for your teeth and cheaper too, at almost half the price!