The fact that breakfast is essential for school-bound kids isn’t news to anyone who’s been paying attention. “Breakfast is the most important meal,” says Heather Gilbert, Registered Dietitian in Portland, Oregon. “It keeps children’s energy levels and concentration up throughout the whole day.”
But while we know it’s important to make healthy choices in the morning, actually getting a good breakfast in front of our kids is a different matter. The biggest obstacle? Time. Mornings are usually rushed and frantic, and not conducive to creative thinking in terms of breakfast choices.
So what’s a parent to do who has only a handful of seconds to find something a child will eat? First of all, says Gilbert, “Parents should choose a breakfast that is lower in sugar. Add some protein such as whole wheat toast with peanut butter and bananas.” More protein and less sugar will help your child stay strong throughout the day, without experiencing a mid-morning sugar crash.
Wondering what else might make a quick, healthy breakfast? Take a look at the powerful breakfasts we’ve compiled below. Choose something from the list based on exactly how much time you have to spare, and you'll be the breakfast expert in no time.
The Night Before Breakfasts
- Hardboiled eggs. Eggs are a great way to start the day, but can also seem messy or time-consuming first thing in the morning. Boil them the night before and peel off the shells. Your kids will have a quick and easy way to eat some protein the next day.
- Muffins. Spend a few minutes mixing up blueberry or oatmeal muffins that your child can eat for breakfast and also pack as a treat in her lunchbox.
Seven Minute Breakfasts
- Whole wheat pancakes topped with fresh fruit instead of syrup. You can make the batter the night before and put it in the fridge, ready to pour onto a griddle in the morning. Turn pancakes into a sandwich, with meat or fruit in the middle, for munching on the go.
- Omelets. It doesn’t take long to make an omelet. If you have an egg and 5 minutes, you can find a great way to reuse veggies from the night before or get inventive with the ingredients at hand.
Four Minute Breakfasts
- Peanut butter sandwich. For an unusual twist on this classic, spread some peanut butter on a whole-wheat hot dog bun and slice up some bananas to go inside.
- Grilled cheese sandwich. Sure, it doesn't sound like much. But a whole wheat grilled cheese sandwich, paired with some fruit and a hardboiled egg, can be the centerpiece of a healthfyl morning meal.
- Smoothies. It's breakfast in a straw! Your kids will love choosing what to throw into the blender. Throw a lid on the cup and they can take this one with them on the schoolbus.
- Oatmeal. Yes, they sell the sweetened flavor variety, but consider buying plain oatmeal and adding your own toppings. Sprinkle on some brown sugar or use raisins to spell out your child’s initials in the bowl.
- Parfaits. Let your child decide how to layer the dish with various fruits, yogurts, or granola. This looks fancy and is delicious, but it’s also surprisingly easy and fast.
Any breakfast is better than no breakfast. But high-sugar ones will leave your child feeling hungry long before lunch time. The best way to get your kids to make a healthier choice is to stop buying the alternatives. If your pantry isn’t stocked with sugar puff cereals, then your kids will make another choice. And that choice will stick with them all morning long.