A really, really, really long time ago, a friend asked if we would write about breakfast. Specifically: she had noticed her son was much happier at school, had more energy, got a better start to the day, when he had a really nice breakfast, i.e. more than cold cereal. I knew she was right when we had the discussion. But serving a nice, warm breakfast on a school morning can take time, energy, creativity. And I am not one of those people with lots of time or energy or creativity in the morning, I never took pictures of breakfast, I didn’t have too many weekday breakfasts to take pictures of, and I generally tended to forget about breakfast as soon as the dishes are cleared.
I still don’t have pictures, but I do have the evidence that feeding them better in the morning makes them happier, calmer, better ready to the meet the long morning at school. This is as important for my 3rd grader as it is for my kindergartner who is tackling full days, mostly with great energy and spirit (& I don’t mean that in the “my child is spirited” euphemistic way.)
However. I still can’t bring myself to get up early. I stay up way to late reading. (Last night, it was Cristina Nehring’s terrific new single about becoming a mother, confronting her daughter’s leukemia, learning about …well, everything. You should read it.) But we have figured out some things about how to vary the offerings. The kids still eat cold cereal some days, but we also have a wider offering of foods that can be prepared really quickly.
Because here’s the thing: we don’t get up until 7 am. By 7:40 am the kids have to: get dressed, eat, make beds, feed cats, clean litter box. Kory and I have to make coffee, feed kids, make lunches, empty dishwasher, and he has to get dressed. But we manage, and most mornings run smoothly. This means, breakfast is on the table in 15 minutes. Below is a list of (warm) things that we can get on the table by 7:15. We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!
- Sweet Rice, made from leftover rice
- Steel cut porridge, cooked in the rice cooker which has a timer. I set it the night before & it’s ready to go at 7 AM
- Fried egg, mini bagel + cream cheese
- Scrambled egg + tortilla=mini breakfast burrito
- Instant oatmeal
- Left over pancakes (AKA snack pancakes in Caroline’s house)
- Leftover waffles
- French toast (this one really only works if I’m up a little earlier, say, by 7:45)
- Finn has also been known to eat leftover macaroni & cheese. Not Ella.
My children, like me, will eat the same breakfast day after day for months at a time. Right now it’s cold cereal (granola, Joe’s O’s, Grape Nuts Flakes or some combination thereof) sprinkled with dried cranberries or raisins. Often they eat oatmeal, not steel cut, but old fashioned oats only take 5 minutes. I’m also a big fan of the breakfast smoothie (frozen fruit, yogurt, nut butter and/or wheat germ); it’s not a hot meal, I realize, but it’s quick, nutritious and filling.
Your choices expand hugely if you don’t limit yourself to traditional breakfast foods. My 10-yr-old eats a bean and cheese burrito for breakfast at least three mornings a week. Just nuke the beans and throw ’em in a tortilla with shredded cheese. Cold pizza is another favorite. And our friends often eat leftovers from the last night’s dinner.
well, if you want to try some local Bulgarian options, you can try:
1. cous-cous with crumbled feta and some butter (rada loves it). someone just told me she boils the cous-cous in milk!
2. make a thick mix of crumbled feta, shredded cheese and one egg the night before, then slap on some slices of bread and bake for a hot “sandwich”
3. cream soup (actually soups of any kind are a highly regarded breakfast option in our house so i always make sure there is some left over for breakfast).
Vanya–I *love* these ideas. Do you just leave the egg raw in the cheese over night? Or is it cooked? Egg sandwiches are popular around here…and maybe the others will help move the kids away from traditional American breakfast food, as Marjorie suggests. Cous-cous would be a big hit, I’m sure. Thank you both!
The eggadilla (https://learningtoeat.com/2010/10/egg-adilla/), as you and Marjorie both suggest, is a good one; another quick favorite (which can be eaten in the car if you’re desperate): bread or toast spread with nut butter and sliced bananas or apple, and/or sprinkled with raisins.
Your comment reminds me, too: when we have Nutella in the house, that’s a big morning treat: on toast/pancakes…by the spoonful before I take it off the table…
Thanks for the ideas! I often give the kids a small bowl of unsalted nuts – cashew, peanuts, pine nuts – to nibble on while I get breakfast. I love the eggadilla idea…must have missed that post. I think that protein is so important in the morning to fill little tummies and help concentration.