I grew up on cereal and milk for breakfast. Occasionally we had toast or oatmeal, but it was usually just a rotation of the same cereals. This worked fine for me, and I assumed I would follow a similar suit when I had my own kids.
I soon saw, however, that my active little boys needed a heartier start to the day to help prevent meltdowns, snacking alllll morning, and general hanger issues. Now that my older kids are in school, a substantial breakfast is even more important to help them focus and have good energy throughout the day.
I try to do a lot of prep for the day the night before, but no matter how prepared I am, mornings are a little chaotic with four kids. Cooking a hot breakfast is just not feasible during this season. But assembling and heating breakfast is infinitely more doable.
Whether it’s batch cooking and freezing things ahead of time or having things my kids can easily do themselves, I’ve found that a little prep work yields huge results. If you are in a breakfast rut or looking for ways to bulk up your kids’ breakfasts, I hope you find some of these ideas helpful:
- Zucchini Muffins: Whenever I have enough ripe bananas, I will make at least a triple batch of these muffins. Just throw a few into the microwave in the morning and you’re ready to go, or put frozen ones in a lunchbox, and they are perfect by lunchtime.
Pro tip: If you have bananas on the verge of going bad but no time to make something with them, you can mash them in a ziplock bag and freeze until you’re ready to use them!
- Egg cups: My 6-year-old loves to help make these. You can find a myriad of recipes for them on Pinterest, but we don’t really use a recipe anymore. I let him choose the meat (crumbled bacon, diced ham, or sausage) and just toss in whatever veggies we have on hand (bell peppers, spinach, and mushrooms are our favorites) along with a handful of cheese. Whisk, bake, freeze…and when you’re ready to eat, microwave and enjoy!
- Breakfast sandwiches: My crew was a little leery when they saw me baking the eggs for these…until they saw how they came together and looked like the sandwiches they liked from a coffee shop we visited on vacation.
- Cold oatmeal (aka overnight oats): While not technically a freezer meal, this is another great make-ahead meal that everyone but the toddler can do virtually on their own. Again, there are a plethora of recipes out there, but our go-to is simple: one scoop (1/2 cup) of oats, one scoop of either Greek yogurt or apple sauce, one scoop of milk, some cinnamon and either frozen berries or dried fruit like cranberries or raisins. Then just chill overnight. When we’re feeling fancy, we’ll also throw in some chia seeds, flax seeds, or nuts. You can make 3 or 4 batches/child for the week and get a healthy breakfast on the table in as short a time as it takes to open the fridge, take off the lid, and stir!
Unfortunately, not everything can just be frozen and popped out when needed, so we have some other hearty staples that are quick to assemble:
- Frozen waffles with peanut butter and chia seeds: We are not super healthy people that routinely eat things like chia seeds, but we have an older cousin who loved this breakfast. My kids thought it looked good, and they now make it on the regular. Warning: chia seeds can get a little messy if you let kids sprinkle them on themselves. But the tradeoff is, they’ve done it themselves!
- Fancy Toast: My kids love toast with sticky jelly as much as anyone, so I just add some cheese to it to help it stick with them as much as to Take a piece of bread, top with a slice of provolone cheese (maybe a slice and a half, depending on the size of the bread and the cheese – you don’t want a lot of bread showing), then top with peach or apricot jelly. Broil 2-3 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. The best part of this one is that it scales super easily, and with foil on your cookie sheet, kitchen cleanup is minimal.
- Fancy Toast Part 2: Avocado toast with hard boiled eggs is a fun new favorite. I’ll usually make a batch of hardboiled eggs once a month and store them, peeled, in the fridge to add to meals or offer as quick snacks. When the toast is warm, spread on some smushed up avocado, slice the egg on top, and sprinkle with some salt and pepper.
- Waffle sandwich: We discovered cinnamon mini waffles through a fortuitous grocery order substitution. They are the size of a regular toaster waffle but can be broken into four parts. We heat those up, break apart, top with two warmed-up sausage patties, and voila – cinnamon waffle sausage sandwiches. Once things are heated, even the toddler insists on building his own!
As you can see, I try to feed my kids healthy foods, but I live in the real world. I know I’m not going to get them to eat vegetables every morning and that convenience foods are not my enemy.
If you already have a breakfast routine that works for your crew – GREAT! But if you need some help making that part of your mornings go a little more smoothly, I hope this gave you some good ideas and encouragement that healthy, filling breakfasts don’t have to be hard!
-Micah Q, Marketing Manager