Quick Breakfast Secrets

Don't get fed up. Get up and at 'em with easy, filling morning meals.

Boy eating cereal for quick breakfast
Inti St. Clair / Getty Images

Is your family active from the moment your alarms go off in the morning? If so, you probably need to prepare some lightning-quick breakfasts. All of us have to start the day with a good meal. And it has to be something we can put together pronto, or it won't happen at all. These tricks can help make sure your whole family has a breakfast that's healthy and satisfying, and will prepare you for a day of school, work, sports practice, and more.

Breakfast Secret 1: Make Ahead

Hard-boiled eggs are kid-friendly, and a good source of protein and some B vitamins—both of which are smart choices in the morning. But quick to make, they're not. So I cook a batch of six or eight of them in the evening or on a weekend, then stash them in the fridge where anyone can grab one for an easy breakfast (or lunch, or snack). The same goes for sustaining selections like the following. Make ahead, freeze or refrigerate, then warm up in the toaster or microwave at breakfast time.

  • Whole-grain pancakes or waffles
  • Scrambled egg muffins
  • Slow-cooker oatmeal
  • Carrot, banana, or zucchini bread (look for a low-sugar version)

Breakfast Secret 2: Don't Forget the Protein

Prevent a mid-morning energy crash by making sure everyone's breakfast includes protein. This could mean cereal fortified with protein, served with milk (cow's, soy, or almond); Greek yogurt; string cheese; whole-grain toast with nut butter or cheese; sliced nuts on cereal, oatmeal, or pancakes; or eggs.

Poaching an egg in the microwave takes less than a minute, and scrambling a few on the stove is almost as fast.

You can even chop up last night's chicken and vegetables into a quick omelet or egg scramble, or eat them as is. Better yet, save time by doing the chopping the night before when you're putting away the dinner leftovers.

Breakfast Secret 3: Keep the Right Stuff in Stock

You know you need the basics, like bread, cereal, milk, and eggs. You can also speed up breakfast prep with pantry staples like peanut butter or other nut butters, chopped nuts, quick-cooking oats, and no-sugar-added applesauce or other pureed fruits (eat them as is or use in baking). Skip juice in favor of whole fruits (fresh or frozen), water, or milk. 

And fill your freezer with frozen fruit whenever it goes on sale. Here's why: Frozen fruit is perfect for smoothies (you can use it in place of ice) and mixing in with plain yogurt, oatmeal or even cereal. It's also a major time-saver because you don't have to rinse or chop the fruit. Plus it will never spoil.

Breakfast Secret 4: The Magic Number

My kids know they can eat just about anything they want for breakfast, as long as they check off the Big Three: a fruit or vegetable, something with protein, and some kind of complex, whole grain carbohydrate (which could be bread, waffles, cereal, or oatmeal).

I follow the same guideline for myself, with the addition of a little caffeine. This combination helps us all start the morning with the nutrients and energy we need for our busy days, and it doesn't have to take hours—or even more than a few minutes—to prepare.

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