The Well-Planned Breakfast
Written by Courtney, Contributing Writer
Breakfast time is often rushed and chaotic in many households today. What used to be a nourishing meal to start the day off right has now become a fast-paced meal on the run. How did we get to this point and how can we go back to tradition?
How Mr. Kellogg Ruined Breakfast and How We Can Redeem It
The year was 1898. Will Keith Kellogg and brother Dr. Harvey Kellogg were searching for a wholesome option for Dr. Harvey’s patients at the Battle Creek Sanitarium and stumbled upon flaked wheat. Dr. Harvey was more concerned with the health aspect for the benefit of his patients, but W.K. Kellogg capitalized on the consumer aspect of it. This accidental discovery was the birth of boxed breakfast cereal.
I imagine Mr. Kellogg had wholesome intentions with the birth of his corn flakes, but the cereals you buy on the shelf today are anything but wholesome. Folks, have you ever read the label on a box of Fruit Loops? What you’ll find is flour stripped and enriched, fortified with synthetic vitamins and minerals, food coloring, preservatives to keep it fresh, and a handful of sugar to keep the kids happy. Never before in history have we replaced nourishment with junk and called it “good” like how we do with boxed cereals.
In many ways, breakfast cereal companies follow the current trends and fads in nutrition, box them up, and deliver them via children’s programming on TV. Whatever the current popular nutrition trend, cereal comanies like to play it up and emphasize it on their boxes. Consumers are tricked into believing cereal is a healthy breakfast option, when most of the time it is not.
What can we do to redeem breakfast and bring it back to it’s rightful place?
As a culture, we’ve become accustomed to stumbling into the day with a rushed breakfast or even breakfast on the run (or not at all), with cold cereal and pastries as the popular go-to option. This is really the last thing our bodies need to get going for the day. No wonder we need coffee to go with it!
A better option would include a protein-rich meal with healthy fats, vegetables, and fruits, but fewer grains. Grains should be wholesome and traditionally prepared for optimal absorption. Instead of reaching for a box of stripped grains enriched with synthetic nutrients, why not opt for real food with real nutrients instead?
Let’s bring breakfast back! Decide to start our days off on the right track with a wholesome meal that can sustain us well into the afternoon. It will take a little more effort and planning ahead, but it is an investment in health.
Image by SweetOnVeg
The Weekly Menu Plan
Planning ahead saves time and money. Preparing a weekly menu takes so little time but saves so much in the long run. Making a grocery list from this meal plan helps to eliminate unnecessary extras (and unnecessary spending). It also tends to lead to a more balanced diet, as it’s easy to see the big picture and adjust accordingly.
I like to make up my weekly menu one my “office day”, the day of the week where I focus on tasks such as budgeting, paying bills, lesson planning, and evaluating goals and plans. From this, I make my grocery list, adding in other necessities and things I’ve noted as needing to be replenished.
For more ideas on menu planning, read Plan It, Don’t Panic by Stephanie Langford.
The Weekly Kitchen Day
I like to designate one day a week to kitchen prep and cleaning. I work best when I have one area of focus as my housework goal for the day. I’ve gotten off track after the birth of my daughter, and this has shown me how much more efficient I was with my kitchen day. (It’s been almost three months, so it’s time I get my ducks in order again!)
The day before “kitchen day” is “grocery/errand day”. The grocery list is prepared during “office day”, a Friday, in which planning is done for the following week.
I will share more with you in an upcoming post about what my kitchen day ideally looks like, but for the most part, it’s a day of kitchen prep. Many foods can be prepared during this day, clearing up much time throughout the week and taking away a lot of “dinnertime anxiety”.
Breakfast foods that can be prepared ahead of time include:
- breakfast casseroles (to be frozen)
- cooking up bacon or sausage and freezing
- processing potatoes and preparing them for hashbrowns/casseroles
- preparing ingredients for omelets or egg casseroles
- homemade granola
- slicing and freezing fresh seasonal fruit (for smoothies or a side)
- blending up greens (like spinach and kale) and freezing them in cubes to be added to smoothies
- baking and freezing muffins or quickbreads
- sourdough for breads
- making butter
- …anything that can be prepared ahead of time.
If you’re looking for breakfast meal ideas, check out this recent post from Erin at The Humbled Homemaker and this previous post on easy, from-scratch breakfast ideas.
The Night Before
Some breakfast dishes are best prepared the night before. Soaking grains for hot cereal or whipping together pancakes for the morning are just two examples.
If you prepare these along with dinner the night before, you’ll probably be much more motivated to bounce out of bed and start your day. Okay, maybe not “bounce”, but you might be less likely to pull the covers over your head and snooze “just 5 more minutes”… 5 more times. I know if I don’t have anything planned for breakfast, I dread getting out of bed, as bad as that sounds. I know that several hungry mouths are ready to be fed and I need something fast.
A Kitchen System
If you have only young ones, it’s a bit more challenging to get a healthy, nourishing meal to the breakfast table. Okay, many times, seemingly impossible. I know, I’ve been there. In that season of motherhood, preparing ahead of time as much as possible (during the kitchen day and the night before) would be best. But once those little ones start to reach the age where they can handle kitchen tasks on their own or with minimal supervision, our days as moms get so much easier.
I’ve had various kitchen routines over the years, varying depending on ages and abilities, but for the most part, each child is responsible for what they can handle developmentally. By age 7 or 8, things like whipping up pancakes or making eggs should be a breeze. By 9 or 10, they’re pretty self-sufficient in the kitchen. Little ones can pair up with older ones so they stay busy and out of trouble but are still learning in the kitchen. I like to make charts for kitchen roles…usually children’s names laminated and stuck to a chart with Velcro.
We’ve fallen out of routine since the birth of my last baby, but what’s nice is that we have fallen into a routine that’s worked for us during this season. Breakfast time is still under control because my children have assumed their own little duties over time, the things they prefer. My older daughter enjoys making pancakes and smoothies. My oldest son prepares the hasbrowns in the food processor and enjoys making omelets. These are the things they’re good at. My other four are ages five and under and they’re good at making messes. I’m working on giving them more kitchen assignments to reduce these messes!
How we begin our days sets the stage for the rest of the day. Experts say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. After a restful night’s sleep, the meal that breaks the fast should be considered especially important. It’s what we take in at breakfast that determines whether or not our metablolism will jump start into gear or lag behind for the remainder of the day.
I notice that when I start the day off right, I have more energy throughtout the day and motivation to keep eating well during lunch and dinner. If, however, I start off poorly, I feel sluggish and hunger quickly. I’m less motivated to prepare, serve, and eat nourishing foods the remainder of the day.
When we’re rushed, our digestive system functions at less than optimal. Our bodies need to be in a state of rest in order to produce the digestive enzymes needed to break down our food properly.
Like dinnertime, breakfast should also be a time to come together as a family. Not only are we nourishing our bodies by slowing down and making breakfast a priority, but in many ways we are nurturing our families as well.
Oh gosh, I needed this post more than you know! With two little ones under the age of 3 and working full time, we rarely get the nutrition for breakfast that we need. This has given me that extra push to start preparing better breakfasts the night before. Thank you!
I’m glad I helped motivate you to make some breakfast changes for the better! One easy way to help with busy mornings is to prepare smoothie ingredients ahead of time….I will rinse and cut up fresh fruit and freeze it for smoothies. Also, blending up spinach or kale and freezing in cubes that can be thrown into a smoothie with fruit. You can add raw egg for protein (or other things) or do something like this and then quick eggs to go with it. It is still best to slow down (at least sit down) to eat, but this at least gets us past the cereal, which only makes us hungry an hour later! 🙂
Excellent post and at such a perfect time! I am hosting a group of youth from my church this week as they do outreach projects in our community and I am responsible for preparing them breakfast each morning. This morning we had homemade whole wheat bread with butter & jam, soaked bran muffins, and fresh fruit.
Your homemade bread and muffins sound delicious! And fresh fruit is always a breakfast favorite for me!
What a great, inspirational post on breakfast! Breakfast really is a struggle for me….thanks for linking to my post! My girls are still too young to fix breakfast for themselves (just turned 4 and 20 months…and the 3rd will be here in a few weeks!), but I LOVE your idea of getting them to help once they are a little older! My mom would never allow my sister and I in the kitchen (even until we went to college), so I didn’t learn how to do anything in the kitchen until, really, my senior year of college when I lived off-campus. I really wanted to, but I feel like I’m still fumbling at times because I didn’t learn growing up!
Love these ideas!
I know! I am glad I’ve gotten my older ones in the kitchen at a young age. You are definitely in that season where you are doing it all, with all of yours being too young to take on kitchen tasks on their own…and overseeing them to expose them is important BUT also means meals take more time. 😉 I loved YOUR post, by the way.
Great post! We have a good breakfast routine here, but it would be fun to spice things up a bit and try some of these ideas. I like to keep it simple…eggs in some form with sausage and fruit three times a week, muffins (made twice a month and frozen) and fruit three times a week and pancakes with bacon and fruit on Saturday mornings. Occasionally, more often when we are at the end of the grocery month, we will have veggies for breakfast. Nothing like starting your day off with brussel sprouts!
It sounds like you have a very orderly system in place!
I’ve had a hard time with breakfast on my whole foods journey. I’m out the door by 6:15 most mornings for work, so I end up bringing breakfast with me. Overnight oats have been a great option for me – milk, yogurt, oats & fruit. I also bring oats with some milk, syrup, raisins, and cinnamon, and just add hot water when I get to work and microwave for a bit. Breakfast casseroles might also be a good option, since they could be cooked on the weekend and then re-heated at work. I do muffins more often in cooler months, too. Does anyone else in the same boat have ideas?
Amanda, I’ma working gal, too. Reheated eggs are NASTY, in my opinion. I bought myself some one-person sized tart/pie pans (about 4″ wide). On Sunday, I made a batch of crescent roll type dough, grease my tins, and press it into the bottoms of each, stack them, then wrap them tight to keep from going dry. I also cut up into small pieces ham, peppers, sausage, tomato, leftover cooked potatoes, mushrooms, onion, or whatever veg/meats I hve on hand and mix them up in a tupperware. In the morning, I take a handful of the veg/meat mix and scramble it with two eggs. Pour the whole thing into a pre-set crust, throw it in the toaster oven on 350 and bake while I’m in the shower. When I’m done, I pull it out and let it cool a bit while I comb my hair. Wrap it in a paper towel and eat in the car…or eat right away at home.
I’ve also had success pan frying my egg scrambles whiel I’m in the shower. I just turn the heat under the pan as low as it goes and leave the lid off. this makes it take as long too cook as it takes me to shower. Hope that helps.
positively convicted just after a recent trip to Costco and buying our monthly supply of box cereal. I really struggle with coming up with healthy nourishing breakfast options. I do pretty good planning lunch and dinner, I really need to take the next step and start planning our breakfasts too.
Breakfast seems to be the most difficult, but I think it’s the most important. And by the way, I still enjoy my cereal from time to time, but I try not to do it for breakfast because it just doesn’t keep me satisfied and full like more complete, balanced meals.
So great. What are your thoughts on Kashi cereal? That is the only brand I buy other than oatmeal….and local or my granola….is Kashi better? We do smoothies and toast or yogurt A LOT. ALso, is microwaving ok for food or are the murmurs about it true? Thank GOD we are so affluent as to worry about organic, whole, microwaved etc, right? WHEW.
Kashi uses soy (GMO soy), so it depends what you’re avoiding.
If you check the nongmoshoppingguide.com under Cereals it says that some/all Kashi cereals are Non GMO project verified – so check the box for the project logo.
I’ve also heard Kashi uses GMOs. I personally avoid the microwave…got rid of ours 5 or 6 years ago…but not sure how bad it really is. Homemade granola is a great option. Yum!
My go to is oatmeal with berries or bananas and some soy milk to each serving for protein. I also add ground flax seed. (I have one child with *ahem!* digestive issues – flax seed really helps.) We also do toast – whole grain, preferably Dave’s Killer bread – with pb or laughing cow cheese and some fruit on the side. I always try to think 1 grain, 1 protein, 1 fruit – but keep it simple. The only cereal I buy is Joe’s O’s (Trader Joe’s version of Cheerios) when I need something to “cheat” with, but I add sliced bananas and use soy milk to justify it. 🙂 Also, a hard boiled egg, piece of toast, and some fruit is great too. I want to start experimenting with quinoa more – that’s my current goal for breakfast. Thanks for the post and the ideas!
Breakfast poses several troubles for me and our family.
1. Two children are dairy-free.
2. I’m wheat-free.
3. Of the 7 family members, 3 are early risers and 4 are not.
So, on the days I soak some hot cereal for the morning, by the time I wake and cook it, only 1 or 2 others are here to eat it with me. The rest have all had their cold cereal. We do choose the best cold cereal options, but I’m aware they still aren’t the best. For Sunday lunch, I often make a pannekuchen (a baked pancake) in 2 batches, one without dairy. For standard breakfasts, that’d be hard to do.
During the school year, most of us will rise at the same time again, and that will help our situation. I guess super-planning is going to be required!
Some cereals are definitely much better than others. I’m interested in your pannekuchen!
I thought I could offer the pannekuchen recipe (baked pancakes). We love it! No more standing at the griddle flipping pancakes while trying to keep the other batches warm.
Preheat oven to 375. Put 2 Tbs. butter in a 9×13 pan and set in oven until melted.
In large blender, put in 1.5 c. milk, 9 eggs, 1 tsp salt, and 1.5 c. flour of choice. Blend, stir edges, blend again. Pour into buttered pan. Bake uncovered 20-30 minutes. It’ll puff up and sink again when removed from the oven. Can add sliced sausage or cut fruit to batter.
Thank you for the recipe! I’m definitely trying this soon.
I make something very similar, and it’s particularly easy for busy Sunday mornings!
Here are a few of our morning favorites / helpful morning ideas:
– Chicken stock
– Scrambled eggs (from our free range hens)
– Fresh, warm goat milk (from our pastured goats)
– Soaked/soured grain cereals
– Pancakes and waffles (I mix my own baking powder) (I will be trying sprouted wheat pancakes today for the first time! I just sprouted, dried, and ground up wheat, ready to go!)
– One more grain favorite (for grains, which we don’t eat often) is Marilyn’s Famous Whole Wheat bread. Her recipe is on http://www.urbanhomemaker.com. Definitely easy and delicious!
We also enjoy what most people would consider “dinner” foods for breakfast, such as beans (so easy!), soups, and roasts cooked in the crock pot all night.
Thank you so much for your post! 🙂
Mmm, can I come over for breakfast tomorrow? 😉 These are great meal ideas! We also do things like beans and rice for breakfast sometimes, too.
Hi ~ breakfast is not easy when your children are younger, but at around 10 or 11 yo some little ones start getting more open to trying things (they’re hungry) don’t miss an opportunity to expose them to new things.
One of my short cuts is to make enough protein on Monday for 1 or 2 other days that week. If I make no nitrate no nitrite bacon I make enough for later in the week. Add a piece of fruit and they are good for a few hours! Also, I juice enough veggies that i add to the kids smoothies to last a week and keep it in the frig. Plus i keep frozen fruits to use if i run out of fresh.
My friend has a child that eats the chicken from the night before plus she cuts the leftover baked potatoes and warms them in the microwave for his breakfast.
I’ve been working towards a more whole foods healthy diet for my family for sometime now, but breakfast is really hard for us. My husband *leaves* at 5:30 am (before I even wake up), #1 daughter at 6:40 (and prefers to get spend her mornings getting ready on her own), #2 daughter at 8:30, and #3 daughter usually wakes up just before #2 leaves. A sit down meal is nearly impossible for us! Any suggestions?
My husband leaves early too so we dont have “family” breakfasts either. What if you set out breakfast the night before that can be quickly heated up or just eaten on the go like homemade oatmeal with fruit, muffins/breakfast breads, yogurt parfaits, or breakfast casseroles?
Thank you for your post! It gave me some good ideas for breakfast. We normally eat organic plain yogurt with granola or toast, or a low-sugar all natural cereal with organic whole milk because it’s easy and I find it difficult to wake up more than a little earlier than my kids. I have 2 children, 5.5 & 2.5yrs old.
How do you reheat the things you’ve made ahead? Does microwaving food destroy valuable nutrients or is that a myth? When I do make pancakes ahead of time I’ve found that popping them in the toaster the next day works pretty well. I slather on some butter and pure maple syrup and the kids don’t know the difference. =)
Some of our favourites are
-Eggs, yoghurt, cooked fruit
-Egg & sausage pie
-Dutch apple baby
-Scrambled eggs on toast & fruit
-Roast diced jacket potatoes with sour cream
More often than not we fall back on the first as there’s less thinking and prep but I’d like to be doing more of the others, a whole lot more often!
We are big breakfast eaters. Not only do I dislike cereal because of your reasons above, it also seems kids never get full and want yogurt and fruit an hour later… you might as well have fed them freezer- whole wheat banana muffins or something similar and the yog./fruit to begin with!
Are usual breakfast menus:
ww pancakes, fruit
smoothies, eggs, toast
eggs, ww muffins, fruit
baked oatmeal, fruit
breakfast bake, fruit
yogurt, pb toast, eggs
banana bread, applesauce (crockpotted throughout the night so it’s fresh in the morning)
eek… correction “OUR” not “are”… 🙂
We do a lot of eggs in different forms around here: poached, scrambled, in burritos with beans and rice and avocado, in baked pancakes, fried on toast with jam, or as ‘eggs in a hole’ to make it fun for the kids (buttered piece of bread with a hole or shape cut out of the middle and and egg cooked inside it).
We also do a lot of greek yogurt and fruit as well as smoothies with lots of spinach and veggies and fruit.
Another family favorite is steel-cut oats, which we call rolly-polly oatmeal, with flax meal, cinnamon, bananas, dried fruit and toasted almonds. Since I rarely have time to stand and stir a pot for 30+ minutes (3 kids 5 yrs and under) in the morning I use and overnight prep method. All you do is put your oats and water in a pot on the stove (1:3 ratio, plus 1 tsp salt for every cup of oats), bring it to a boil and let boil/simmer for about 5 minutes, turn the heat off and cover with a lid. By morning it’s ready to go with little additional time needed for warming. You can also add apples or your dried fruit before cooking and they will soften and naturally sweeten the oats along the way. It’s one of our favorites.
I’m curious about the commenter who prepares roasts for breakfast, and how she prepares/serves it. Sounds like a great idea but I don’t have a clue where I’d start with something like that.
We love doing quick easy things like french toast, oatmeal and breakfast burritos. Protein, healthy fats and they are quick 🙂 I wish I was more consistent about baking as we all love having muffins around for breakfast and snacks too. I shared some recipes, I hope its ok to post the links? If not, feel free to delete my comment! 🙂
With a baby due in the next few weeks, I absolutely have to eat a good breakfast or I become utterly exhausted in the morning. I have noticed what a huge difference a good breakfast makes in my day! My favorite thing recently has been fried potatoes, squash (fresh from the garden!), and onions, sprinkled with cheese. If I have eggs on hand, I sometimes mix those in too. This is after the plain yogurt mixed with fruit (lots of fresh options this time of year) as an appetizer while I wait for the other things to cook.
Love it! I always had two breakfasts while pregnant. Sometimes two lunches or dinners too. 😉
Have to ask….what is the name (and recipe!) for the top photo! It looks positively YUMMY!!! That looks good enough to roll out of bed for in the morning :)) Yum!
Breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day. Currently, I loving a toasted english muffin w/ natural peanut butter spread on top!
This has been a recent goal of mine – making better breakfasts for my kiddos, and for me and my hubby. With cereal I was finding my kids were asking for a snack an hour or so after breakfast… I’m wondering though if anyone has any tips on getting your kids to actually eat a “substantial” portion at breakfast? I have one preschooler who will take two bites of breakfast and ask to be excused (no matter what it is), only to wander back to the kitchen all the claiming to be hungry. Any suggestions?
when my kids were small and at my day care, I have this problem some of the time, especially with new kids. What I have found successful is to reduce the amount given in the first place (not what you hope they’ll eat but about 1/2 the amount you think they *need* to eat). If we are having scrambled eggs and toast with some fruit, I give 1/4 piece of toast, one big bite of egg and one or two bites of fruit. They can always ask for more if this isn’t enough. I require they eat all the egg and at least a good bite of the toast (and drink the milk or juice provided – 1/4 cup). Whatever is left is covered (with a saucepan lid) and they can have that if they claim hunger before snack time. I do keep them at the table, telling them it is a courtesy to keep company with the rest while they eat. Often, that lid over the “left overs” is lifted and more food gets eaten, just because it’s there.
At snack time, they have to eat some of their left overs before they get to have the snack item – and that snack item is in the same proportions as their breakfast. [I usually just get them to finish the fruit or toast but not usually both] None of this is done in a punishing manner or as discipline. I tell them, “your body needs this food first then it can use the snack.”
Of course, your situation will be somewhat different so glean what you can from these ideas and make it work for your family. But do keep in mind that kids eating 1/2 of what you think is minimum, on a regular basis, is going to keep them more nourished than “catching up” later with bigger meals.
We love cold cereal in this home. Instead of buying the packaged stuff, I use a recipe I found from the healthyhomeeconomist.com. Fresh ground organic flour, soaked in raw soured milk, real butter, maple syrup baked into a ‘cake’, crumbled and toasted is a lot of work, but after a few times it doesn’t take as much effort. It has become part of our routine and i make multiple batches at a time to have on hand. Eating this with raw milk saves me time in the morning rush and helps me feel good about feeding my family well!
Our current favorite for an easy breakfast is raw overnight oatmeal. I mix up oatmeal, homemade plain yogurt, milk, diced fruit and a bit of honey the night before and stick it in the fridge. Nuts would also be great in this, but we have allergies here so no nuts for us. The kids all love it and it really seems to fill us up. I got the idea from Pinterest, but have usually just eyeball it, no measuring. Some of the Pinterest versions I’ve seen also call for chia seeds, but we haven’t tried those yet.
breakfast is my hardest meal to deal with having 5 kids and my youngest only being 2 mos (the youngest 2 don’t sleep through the night yet). i try to do oat groats overnight in the crockpot sometimes and we do have scrambled eggs from our hens some mornings as well… but i often defer to just the plain cheerios because i am too exhausted to make a full breakfast. i do so much better with good snacks, lunches and dinners. breakfast is a goal though.
Courtney, can u add an entire egg to spinach/fruit smoothie or jtst yolk?
Great post, so often breakfast is the meal that gets overlooked. In the rush to be out of the house on time it can often end up being eaten as you travel or even at work. Its so important to get a good breakfast and set yourself up for the day.
What I have been doing recently for my hubby is making smoothies ahead of time and keeping them in the freezer. At night I put one in the fridge and it’s semi-thawed by morning. Then he can grab it on his way out the door and drink a smoothie on his way to work. I use freezer jars made by the Ball canning jar brand and really like them.
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