School is back in session, and quick and easy meal ideas are on my mind. I like to have plenty of things on hand for healthy breakfasts and lunches for the kids that don’t take a ton of time in the kitchen. Unfortunately, after feeding three kids all on different schedules and getting them out the door, I realize I am starving, because I never got around to eating breakfast!
Those are the days I just decide to forgo breakfast (I know! A huge no-no!) and wait for lunch. The reason is, let’s be honest, making one more thing in the kitchen in the morning sounds completely exhausting. I always think if I had someone else making the meal for me (dream come true!), I would eat it, but putting any more effort into food preparation is more trouble than it is worth.
Well, the flip side of that is by the time lunch comes around, I am really starving! Prepping something for lunch and eating anything that stands in my way in the meantime is sort of the norm, and when I realize I have probably consumed two meals worth in calories just snacking my way through lunch, I also realize that I should start eating breakfast.
So, what are the options? Busy parents don’t have a lot of time to prep and need something that is quick to eat. Maybe you don’t feel like eating cold cereal but want something tasty. That is a lot of criteria to fulfill. In honor of September being All-American Breakfast Month, here are some ideas that I have stockpiled over the years, based purely on my own “busy mom in the morning” experience!
The freezer has literally been my best friend since having kids. I make a lot of food–pack it up–and freeze the leftovers for a meal for another night. I bake cookies for events early, on my own schedule, and freeze them so they are ready when I need them. I make a bigger batch of pancakes on the weekend, and toss the cooled leftovers in the freezer so the kids can enjoy a healthier version of quick and easy pancakes on a busy morning! I have also baked muffins and even quick breads for the freezer. Let baked goods cool, slice them, and package slices individually for a quick breakfast straight out of the freezer. This blueberry zucchini quick bread is my family’s new favorite!
We even make a big batch of our favorite green smoothie, fill up some small mason jars, and freeze them. The night before, I thaw out whatever we need so it is ready in the morning. Any smoothie would work too–blend up some fresh fruit, juice or yogurt, and pour into individual servings before freezing. It is a great healthy breakfast.
This Egg Cup recipe is one of my favorites to make in a huge batch, let cool, and freeze. Pop one in the microwave, and enjoy a hot breakfast in the morning! Find the recipe below:
Easy Make-Ahead Egg Cups
- 10 eggs
- 1/3 cup milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
“Add-ins” of your choice. Here are a few of my favorites:
- goat cheese/sundried tomatoes/basil
- sauteed leek/cooked potato
- sausage/mozzarella/Italian seasoning
- ham/cheddar/steamed broccoli
- spinach/mushroom/shredded swiss
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk and salt and pepper together. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan generously with cooking spray. Fill cups halfway full. Add about 1-2 teaspoons of the “add-in” combinations to the egg cups. Bake for 13-18 minutes until eggs puff up and are cooked through. Serve warm. If freezing, let cool completely. Remove from muffin pan and place in a container or freezer-safe bag in one layer and freeze. To reheat, place the frozen egg cup on a microwave-safe plate. Cook for 1 minute, checking for doneness and then cook again in 20-second intervals until it is thawed and warm.
Night-before Refrigerator Preparation
The freezer is my best friend, but prepping things the night before comes in a close second. I love things that you can prep the night before and have ready and waiting for you in the morning. Lately, I am loving overnight oatmeal jars. Throw a bunch of delicious things together in a jar, refrigerate, and enjoy in the morning! A few of my favorites are these Peanut Butter Overnight Oats from Minimalist Baker, and these Blueberry Overnight Oats from That Clean Life. Of course, you can literally throw some almond milk, steel-cut oats, and a few handfuls of your favorite oatmeal mix-ins in a jar and call it a day too, no fanciness necessary!
I also love tossing together some fresh cut fruit the night before and serving with some greek yogurt and a sprinkle of granola. It gives me the perfect amount of protein to keep me going. Keeping fresh-cut fruit in the fridge daily helps me (and my kids) get more produce into our day, and somehow, tastes so much better than having to cut it right there and then.
Keeping some hard-boiled or scrambled eggs in the fridge makes for an easy go-to breakfast as well. I love spooning scrambled eggs into a warm tortilla with a spoonful of salsa and some avocado in the morning. It is absolutely delicious, takes about one minute to get together, and gives you a great start to the day!
Quick Morning Throw Together
Toast is one of my go-to’s, but this isn’t the toast of old, slathered with butter or jam. This is a new toast. Hearty whole-grain bread, toasted golden brown, and slathered with fresh avocado, or crusty bread with a spread of peanut butter and low-sugar jam, or my favorite: a slice of cheese, freshly sliced tomatoes and cracked black pepper. Of course, I wouldn’t scoff at a buttery piece of toast either, but these combinations give you a little more of what you need in the morning to keep going.
Grab and Go
Sometimes it is the easiest option that is the best. You know those mornings where nothing is going right, everyone is cranky, time is flying and you are later than you ever thought possible. Those are the days that you need some ready-made ideas that are so no-nonsense, it doesn’t even seem like breakfast, but it will do. Granola bars, (some of my favorites are pictured below), a low-fat cheese stick and some whole grain crackers, or in the most desperate of situations, an apple.
With a little advance preparation and planning, you’ll have plenty of options for a quick, healthy breakfast for yourself.
What is your favorite, quick breakfast? Tell us in the comments section.