Here we are – the start of a new school year! The back-to-school routines are being built and you may have easy go to breakfast ideas on your mind. It is a great time to create healthy routines and positive habits that set up the family for a successful day.
Breakfast is a good place to start when planning a day full of energy and productivity. In this article, I share the best tips on what to include in breakfast, my tips for having a routine and planning a head, and a few easy go to breakfast ideas for you to put into place right away!
The Importance of a Healthy Breakfast
Breakfast is the perfect time to set the foundation of a great day for your child. It is important that children consume healthy nutrients early in the day so that they have energy to run, play, learn, and grow.
Eating breakfast can improve behavior, attention and concentration throughout the morning, leading to better academic and social learning for kids.
Make it Happen
Prioritize time each morning for your kids to sit down and enjoy a breakfast meal before the school day begins. Plan so that you have healthy and quick options available during mornings when you feel like you are also managing the household chaos of getting everyone up and ready for the day (and trying not to miss the bus!).
What does a balanced breakfast actually mean? As a dietitian, I recommend that you include three major food groups in a breakfast meal for ultimate success. I outlined food groups and snack preparation previously, and the same principles apply for breakfast planning.
My best advice is to include whole grains, a source of protein and/or fat, plus a fruit option. Change your options each day within those categories. Bonus if you can squeeze in a vegetable at breakfast time! Choose whole fruit instead of juice most of the time. Whole fruit includes fiber that supports a healthy digestive system and keeps us full. Include a serving of milk or yogurt if your child may not consume dairy during the day.
Including three food groups will ensure that your child is getting the nutrients they need throughout the day including carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. (Keep reading for specific examples of these balanced breakfasts towards the end of this post!)
Managing the Morning
School mornings can be hectic! I completely get it! Getting kids up and going for the day almost always takes longer than we think it should.
If you plan for breakfast ahead of time it can alleviate the time crunch each morning. Consider what you have at your house that you can quickly prepare so that it makes your morning a breeze. Take time the night before to consider what you will serve for breakfast and have an option from each food group ready so that you can lay everything out in the morning quickly.
Involve your Kids
Consider what your children enjoy eating and what they can help prepare. When kids take ownership of their meal, they are much more likely to eat the food on their plate or in their bowl. In addition, if you have extra hands helping you in the morning, you will be freed up to manage all the extra things that pop up!
Keep it simple and rotate through favorites so that your kids find their own routine of eating their breakfast meal each morning.
Offer Simple Choices
When children are given a choice in their meal, they can take ownership of their decision, and are much more likely to eat their meal. When you are planning breakfast, offer them two choices, both of which you approve and can prepare that day. They will feel good about having the power to choose their food items, and you will feel good about their choice!
For example, you can ask: “Would you rather have toast with peanut butter or a pancake with yogurt on the side?” Therefore, if your kids are familiar with and enjoy both options, they will feel excited about their choices, and you will feel good knowing either choice is a good one.
My Favorite Easy Go To Breakfast Ideas
If you are looking for inspiration, here are 7 of my favorite easy go to breakfast ideas. In addition, I even included some ways to alter slightly for extra variety!
- Whole wheat toast with peanut butter (or other nut butter) + fruit
- Keep whole, or slice in different dimensions or bites for little fingers to pick up easily
- Serve with jelly on top for an open faced PB&J
- Drizzle with honey
- Hard boiled egg + whole wheat toast + avocado
- Make a batch of hard boiled eggs and keep in the fridge up to 7 days
- Serve toast with butter and avocado on the side in bites or spread on the toast
- Whole wheat pancakes + yogurt + fruit
- Make a batch of pancakes and keep in the fridge up to 5 days, heat and serve
- Top pancakes with a drizzle of syrup or put in a small dipping bowl – kids love dipping!
- Top with nut butter and roll pancake like a burrito or slice into bites for easy pick up
- Our favorite mix-ins for the pancake batter are pumpkin puree and spices or applesauce and cinnamon
- Switch out pancakes for whole wheat French toast or waffles if you are in a rut or if you are looking to change up the options! Make a batch and keep in the fridge or half in the freezer for future use!
- Oatmeal + raisins + yogurt
- Make your oatmeal with milk instead of water for more staying power
- Optional add ins: nut butter, banana slices, blueberries, nuts like slivered almonds or pecan pieces
- Muffins + yogurt + fruit
- Make a batch of muffins and keep in a sealed container on the counter for 2-3 days
- Bake with whole wheat flour or mix half whole wheat flour with all-purpose flour
- Our favorite muffins are pumpkin muffins and banana muffins!
- Savory egg muffins + avocado + fruit
- Make a batch of egg muffins or an egg bake and keep in the fridge up to 3-4 days, heat and serve
- Optional add ins: spinach, diced onions, diced bell pepper, cooked sausage, cheese
- Cereal + milk + fruit
- Keep the classic combination if this suits your family!
- Make sure to check the amount of added sugar in the cereal you choose. Aim for less than 6 grams of sugar per serving.
- Choose cereals that are whole grain and contain at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. A few of my family’s favorites are Quick Oats (any brand), Kirkland Signature Ancient Grain Granola from Costco, and Barbara’s Original Multigrain Spoonfuls.
Wait, My Child Doesn’t Feel Like Eating Breakfast
On the other hand, every child is different and has a different preference for their eating schedule. Some kids are just not hungry right away in the morning, and that is okay. Most preschools and care centers will include a morning snack. If you have a school-aged child, try to pack a portable snack that they can eat at some point before school or mid-morning. If the schedule or school day does not allow for eating until lunch time, make sure your child knows that and can eat something small and sustainable until they can eat lunch.
Set Yourself up for Success
Certainly, mornings are busy and can be a little hectic! Keep breakfast fun and remember that you are aligning elements for a great day ahead. Set yourself up for success by creating easy go to breakfast ideas so that you have them on hand for the school week ahead! Pour yourself a big cup of piping coffee, get breakfast on the table in a breeze, and everyone will be ready to tackle their day with full energy! Your future self will thank you.
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