A lot of people suggest focusing on one meal a day to begin with when changing to a healthier diet. For me, breakfast was one of the first places I started making changes. I used to eat McDonalds Egg McMuffins, Quaker oatmeal packets, Jimmy Deans frozen breakfast sandwiches, and Raisin Bran (with extra sugar added) most mornings. While I don’t think it’s a big deal to eat convenience foods on occasion I know for sure eating those types of foods every single morning could not have been good for me. Slowly but surely I made changes to the things I bought and made and now I feel pretty good about what we eat for breakfast.
The mornings are busy for many of us with kids in school and especially for those that have to get out the door for work. So I know eating a healthy breakfast can be a challenge. The good news is that there are a lot of options for quick and easy breakfasts. I’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite foods and some tips for making them convenient for busy families.
My whole family loves granola. I have made many recipes over the years and finally settled on two recipes that work for us. My husband and boys like their granola with milk and I like mine plain. Top some yogurt with granola and fruit and you have a full meal.
Tip: Make your granola on the weekends or evenings since it takes a while to cook. I usually chop the nuts and mix the dry ingredients when I have a few minutes of free time. I cover it and set it aside. Then when I have a larger window of time to cook the granola, I melt the wet ingredients and pop it in the oven. Granola can be stored in the fridge for several weeks or the freezer for a few months to keep it fresh longer. (I prefer to eat it cold straight from the freezer.)
2. Whole Grain Pancakes or Waffles
When I started cooking from scratch I started with pancakes. I first began by making pancakes with all purpose flour and lots of sugar. Then I started using whole wheat flour and decreased the sugar. Now I mostly make our favorite pancakes with whole grain flour, almond flour, oats, coconut and flaxseed meal. They are really very good! They are also lower in sugar and higher in protein than your typical pancakes. This recipe makes a big mix that can be made into 3 different batches.
Another recipe I like is this multigrain pancake recipe. I substitute all white whole wheat flour for the flours to make it whole grain. This is a great recipe if you are just starting to make changes to your diet.
Tip: Prep your dry mix ahead of time so all you have to do is mix the wet ingredients in the morning and cook the pancakes. I usually set out the bowl, measuring cups and spoons, and gather the unrefrigerated wet ingredients the night before. Get organized and you might actually have time to make these in the morning. Also, make a double batch every time you make them so you can stock your freezer. I can’t overstate how helpful it is to make extras every time you cook. Stock your freezer for quick weekday breakfasts.
I’m not a huge yogurt lover but my kids are. I used to buy flavored yogurts, but after discovering how much sugar and other unnecessary ingredients were added I switched to plain Greek yogurt. I add my own maple syrup and cinnamon. Actually, most of the time the kids don’t even notice if I leave the maple syrup out. (Just an FYI – it did take a while to switch my kids over to plain yogurt. I started with a good amount of maple syrup and cinnamon and then slowly weaned them off the sweetness of the maple syrup.) If your kids like flavored yogurt, try this berry sauce recipe. I’ve made it before and it’s great.
Tip: Yogurt doesn’t require any preparation!
4. Peanut or Almond Butter Toast
One of my favorite breakfasts is toast. We like to top ours with a little bit of butter and peanut or almond butter. Add a little fruit on the side and you have a balanced meal. I made my own bread for a while with my bread machine but this year (with a new kindergartener) I’ve gone the convenience route with our bread. I like the Food for Life brand of Ezekiel bread because it’s made with sprouted grains (it has more protein and less sugar.) I also buy an organic bread from Costco.
Tip: Toast is quick and easy. Just keep your pantry or freezer stocked with whole grain bread.
Buying bread can be tricky. Even if it says 100% whole wheat, a lot of brands have many unnecessary ingredients. Check labels carefully. If you see a lot of ingredients that you can’t pronounce it might not be the best choice.
5. Toast with Avocado and Egg
A new recent favorite of mine is toast, avocado and egg. I love that in this one simple meal I’m getting whole grains and healthy fat and protein. I simply toast the bread in the toaster, spread on some avocado and top it with a fried or scrambled egg.
Tip: Whenever you make eggs, make extras! Eggs can be refrigerated and re-heated in the microwave. I re-heat both scrambled and fried eggs all the time.
6. Scrambled Eggs
We all love scrambled eggs. I crack a bunch of eggs and whisk them, add in a tablespoon or two of milk and a sprinkling of cheese. Add salt and pepper and cook. I often add in some leftover veggies when I have them. I know a lot of people stick to the egg whites but we eat the whole egg. The yolks have more vitamins and minerals than the whites.
Tip: Scrambled eggs can be kept in the fridge for several days and re-heated in the microwave. Just be careful, they heat up very quickly. I usually need less than 30 seconds. You don’t want to overcook them. I often make about 7 eggs and we will have a few spoonfuls with our breakfast each morning for the next 2-3 days. It’s a great way to add protein to your morning meal.
Muffins are popular with my boys. They can be time consuming so I don’t make them often but when I do I make extras for the freezer. This way we can enjoy them more often. Muffins can be high in sugar so be careful with the recipes you choose. I usually try to stick with recipes that have 1/3 – 1/2 cup sugar or less. I also prefer recipes that use honey or maple syrup. I usually use white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour in my muffins as well. Our favorite muffins are these sweet potato muffins.
Tip: Make the dry mix for the muffins the night before you plan to cook them to make it easier in the morning. All you will have to do is mix the wet ingredients with the dry and put them in the oven. Gather your supplies so you are ready to go when you wake up. Also, make a double batch on mornings when you have more time and store the extras in the freezer.
Fruit is a great addition to any breakfast!
Tip: Chop and wash the fruit you plan to serve so all you have to do is add it to the plates in the morning.
I don’t make smoothies as often as I’d like but I love them when I do. I usually make mine with coconut water, frozen fruit (blueberries, strawberries, and the antioxidant blend from Costco), greek yogurt and a handful of spinach.
Tip: Make extra smoothie and pour into these molds for freezer pops. My kids love to eat these at breakfast or for snack. I use these freezer molds.
We all love oatmeal. I used to eat the packaged instant oatmeal on a regular basis. But since learning to make it homemade there is no way I’d go back. The real deal tastes so much better! I prefer old fashioned oats but the boys like quick oats. Both are quick and easy for busy mornings. Our favorite way to eat oatmeal is this maple and cinnamon recipe.
Tip: Oatmeal can be refrigerated and reheated too! Make extras for the next day. I just add a little milk, stir, and then reheat. Oatmeal can be sent in a thermos for lunch as well.
My boys love quiche. Since quiche typically takes a good amount of time to cook you would definitely want to save this to make on a morning when you have more time. It also makes a great dinner. Our favorite recipe is this bacon and spinach quiche.
Tip: Make it for dinner and eat the leftovers for breakfast. Or make crustless quiche cups. Just make the quiche insides, pour into muffin cups and cook in the oven.
I just recently learned how to make a good omelette. Basically, you whisk 3 eggs together until bubbly, add in your veggies, ham, cheese, etc. Grease a pan with a little bit of butter or oil and warm on medium to medium-low heat. Pour egg mixture into the pan, cover, and let it cook all the way through until spongy (about 5 minutes or so.) When it looks spongy, flip one half over and cover and let it cook another minute or two. Be careful not to overcook.
Tip: Make a large omelette or make two and save leftovers to reheat. Also, chop the veggies and shred the cheese the night before so all you have to do is crack the eggs and add it all together and cook.
Cereal is always quick and easy. But it can be difficult to find cereal that is not full of sugar and artificial colors and ingredients. I try to find cereals with whole grains, limited sugar and ingredients I can pronounce. I stay away from the colored, sugary cereals.
Tip: No prep necessary! Just pour and eat.
Most mornings our breakfast looks something like this:
Ok, what did I miss? What other real food breakfast ideas do you have for me?