Most moms I talk to agree that the morning rush is chaotic. Trying to get our little ones and big ones up, dressed, fed and out the door is sometimes impossible. Often, children skip breakfast.
I’ve been working in the Cinnaminson schools on and off for several years and it surprises me how many children don’t eat before they come to school.
I do not consider myself a nutritional expert or a super mom but I have tried to provide my kids with fun and healthy choices at breakfast.
I’m a magazine junkie and have a huge collection of kid-friendly recipes and suggestions that I’ve gathered over the years.
Here are some ideas I’ve picked up along the way to make the morning crunch a little quicker and healthier.
If you are really pressed for time and need to grab and go:
- Leftovers of any sort work if your kids will eat them. My niece will eat cold pizza for breakfast and that’s surprisingly a pretty healthy option.
- Granola bars, cereal bars, oatmeal bars, healthy pop tarts—there are a multitude of healthy bars and cookies on the market that provide nutrients and vitamins kids need to start the day. Stock up and make it easy for your child to grab one before they head out the door.
- Single servings of yogurt, fruit or applesauce are quick ways to get some calcium and fruit.
- Protein is a key ingredient needed to function properly. Cheese sticks may fit the bill. Add some whole grain crackers and although it’s not a complete breakfast, it’s better than not eating at all. Throw a piece of fruit in the mix and they are on their way.
- Fruit is a no-brainer. Grabbing an apple, banana or handful of grapes takes no time at all. Make sure you always have some fresh, clean fruit in the house.
- Try Carnation Instant Breakfast, Pediasure or Kellog’s Protein drinks for a quick drink of breakfast. They can be handy in a pinch.
Quick and easy breakfasts that require minimal effort:
- Cereal is a great option for quick breakfasts. You pour it and add some milk. It doesn’t get much easier than that. Set bowls and cereal boxes out the night before so there is less to do in the morning. Make it a cereal buffet for your kids—they might think it’s fun.
- Oatmeal, as my husband tells me, is one of the healthiest breakfasts for anyone. I personally don’t like it but one of my daughters does so I always have Quaker Oatmeal prepackaged servings around. One or two minutes in the microwave and you have a heart healthy meal. My daughter likes it made with water and then adds a splash of half-and-half or skim milk to it.
- Spread some cream cheese on a whole wheat muffin or bagel and add banana slices, raisins or nuts—or all three—for a sweet and crunchy quick meal that can be eaten while walking to the bus.
- Nutella on whole wheat bread is something my girls love and makes a great lunch as well. Nutella is made with hazelnuts and cocoa; it’s all natural and packs a good protein punch. It tastes like chocolate and that’s an easy sell in the morning. Nutella is kind of pricey, but you can get a pack of two large containers at Costco for a reasonable price. I’m sure they sell something similar at Sam’s or BJ’s.
- Yogurt parfaits are a delicious way to start the day. Take vanilla yogurt, add some fresh strawberries or blueberries, and some granola or walnuts. Your children will feel like they are having a sundae for breakfast.
- Healthy tortilla wraps make delicious to-go breakfasts for busy mornings. Peanut butter and jelly, cream cheese and fruit, shredded cheese, vegetables and even eggs can be wrapped, carried and eaten on the way to the bus stop.
- Smoothies are a nice drink alternative to actually eating a meal. My girls love smoothies. Blend yogurt, fruit juice and fresh fruit until smooth. Drink and enjoy. Although they are speedy to mix up and tasty, I’m not a fan of the smoothie in the morning because you need time to clean up.
Prepare in advance and you will have stress-free mornings:
- Make pancakes, waffles and French toast and freeze. Pancakes and waffles can be made with wholegrain flour. Wheat germ can be added to pump up the nutritional value. Add dark chocolate chips for added flavor and nutritional value. Use whole wheat or seven-grain bread for French toast. It gives it a good crunchy texture with a slight hint of nut. This will definitely save some money over the frozen varieties and provide a more nutritional meal for your kids.
- Breakfast casseroles can be made the night before and are always so yummy. Hearty casseroles made with eggs, bacon or sausage make a filling meal or try a lighter version with mushrooms and vegetables.
- Quiche is another option that can be made for dinner the night before or frozen days or weeks in advance. Make a light meal without crusts and add lots of veggies. One of my favorite quiche recipes is so easy:
- 4 or 5 eggs
- 1 cup of skim milk
- 1 cup of chopped onions
- ½ package of frozen spinach, thawed
- 1 cup of shredded cheese (I’ve used mozzarella , swiss and cheddar)
- 1 tablespoon of flour
- Mix everything together and pour into ready-made crusts or into pie dish without crust for a healthier frittata type meal. Bake at 350◦ for 60 minutes. This is a healthy dish that is perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Spinach and onions can be replaced with ham, bacon or whatever vegetables you or your children enjoy.
- Homemade oatmeal mixes. We have made our own flavored oatmeal at our house. We buy a giant container of Quaker Oats, add some nuts and brown sugar and then scoop it out to make personal servings. I’ve added maple syrup and diced apples to our concoctions to make them sweeter. It’s cheaper than the prepackaged version and not as processed.
Use your imagination; there are endless ways to incorporate healthy food into your child’s breakfast before they leave for the day. They need more than pop tarts or coffee to keep them going. Yes, many kids I talk to drink coffee in the morning. Go figure.
There are many healthy options that don’t take a lot of time. Test some out, see what your children like and what they will eat.
Give them what they need to begin their day in a healthy way.
Take photos of your healthy breakfasts and visit shareyourbreakfast.com or actionforhealthykids.org before July 31, and help Kellog’s share 1 million breakfasts with children who might not be getting breakfast at home. Post your breakfast photos and Kellog’s will provide breakfast to a child who needs it.