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?

Redefining Breakfast

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

Be Well-Prepared

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
  • yogurt
  • kefir
  • 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!

Slowing Down

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.

Let’s share some ideas… what “real food” breakfasts do you serve and how do you keep things easy in the mornings?