The breakfast struggle is real!
Most people know that eating a healthy breakfast is important, but for many of us it can be incredibly difficult to fit into our routine before rushing out the door.
Oh, how crazy mornings can be! Can you relate?
It’s 6:30 am and pandemonium reigns in your house. You’re in a frenzy of packing lunches, helping the kids get dressed and making sure your family has what they need before heading out the door. You pour everyone a bowl of sugary cereal out of convenience. You quickly clean up and scoot everyone out the door with little time to spare. As you grab your keys, hop in the car and dash off to work, you think to yourself, “Tomorrow will be different. I’ll wake up earlier and I’ll make something nutritious for us to eat.” But tomorrow comes and you find yourself caught up in the same frantic morning cycle.
This scenario played out at our home more times than we’d like to admit. Over the years, and thanks to a lot of trial and error, we’ve come up with a few practical ways to bring more time and organization to our mornings, and we want to help you do the same!
5 Strategies to Simplify a Healthy Breakfast
If you’re looking for ways to radically simplify your morning routine so you’re finally able to serve your family a healthy breakfast, here are a few practical strategies.
Strategy #1: Create a rotational menu and then repeat, repeat, repeat!
Rather than spending time each week stressing about new breakfast ideas, come up with a library of simple, real-food recipes that you can rotate through.
Aim for two simple meals that can be alternated for a week (during weekdays). Create a menu for an entire month (each week the schedule changes to include different breakfasts). At the end of the month, repeat! Remember, the goal here is to nourish your family. Keep your meals simple so you’re able to stick with them.
Strategy #2: Prep as much as possible so you have healthy options to reach for all week long—no matter how busy you are.
When you prep in advance you always have healthy options in the fridge that can be enjoyed for breakfasts.
Whether you take time over the weekend to chop veggies to toss into scrambled eggs throughout the workweek, pre-slice apples for Apple Cinnamon Toast the night before OR make an Egg Casserole on Sunday, doubling the recipe so you can have eggs later in the week, prepping ahead will set you up for healthy success AND eliminate a lot of early a.m. stress.
Focus on prepping foods or ingredients that tend to be time consuming so you’re able to get nutrient-dense breakfasts on the table quickly and easily. Take that, hectic mornings!
An example of a rotational menu (see strategy #1) and a prep plan:
- Scrambled eggs with sautéed veggies (sauté veggies on food prep day so you can quickly toss them into your eggs throughout the workweek)
- Homemade pancakes— Whole Wheat or Low-Carb/Gluten-Free (prepare a double batch for breakfast over the weekend, eat and store leftovers so you can have pancakes later in the week)
- Strawberry Overnight Oats (slice strawberries over the weekend, prep your oats the night before or up to 3 days in advance)
- Homemade Breakfast Sandwiches, Burritos or Quesadillas (dedicate an hour on your food prep day to assemble a double batch; enjoy one batch later in the week and store the extras in the freezer for next month’s meals)
- Easy Egg Casserole (prepare a double batch for breakfast over the weekend, eat and store leftovers so you can have eggs later in the week)
- Plain Greek yogurt mixed with honey, topped with berries and homemade or store-bought Granola—just check for FfL-friendly ingredients (wash your berries ahead; make a big batch of granola over the weekend and then store the extra in the freezer for future yogurt parfaits)
- Apple Cinnamon Toast (slice your apples the night before; set plates, napkins and dry ingredients out on the counter so you’re able to quickly assemble in the morning)
- Plain oatmeal with a drizzle of honey, a few dashes of cinnamon and a handful of blueberries (wash blueberries over the weekend or the night before)
At the end of each month, REPEAT! As you become more comfortable, you can even create seasonal menus.
Strategy #3: Make a double batch and freeze it for future meals.
We touched on stocking your freezer in Strategy #2…
Whenever possible, prepare extra food at mealtime with the goal of freezing the extras for busy mornings. Maybe you’re making Maple Sweetened Banana Muffins this weekend—double the recipe. Once cool, store the extra muffins in the freezer (we keep them in a gallon-size bag) for future breakfasts.
If you’re worried about foods like waffles or pre-sliced egg casserole sticking together, flash-freeze the food on a parchment-lined baking sheet for about an hour. Then freeze the food with parchment paper separating the layers OR by individually wrapping in foil and place in a gallon-size plastic bag.
Strategy #4: Set a morning routine for both you and your family.
Mornings can be overwhelming, particularly if you have children. A lot needs to get done in a short period of time and keeping your family on task can be difficult. The solution is a morning routine (make the bed, get dressed, practice good hygiene, eat breakfast). When your family knows what’s expected of them there’s less stress, chaos and nagging, which allows you to get breakfast on the table more easily.
If you have kids
When initially setting a standard routine, sit down with your kids and ask them, “What do we have to do to get ready in the morning?” In response, your kids will probably say something like “Brush my teeth and eat breakfast.” From there you can fill in the gaps.
Then, make it fun and kid-friendly by creating a poster or some sort of visual aid (printing photographs or using drawings is especially helpful for younger kids) to make the routine more concrete. Keep it simple and age-appropriate. The finished product will serve as a guide for them to reference independently or with gentle prompting. Remember that they’re learning a new skill, so you’ll need to practice the process with them until they get the hang of it.
Keep in mind...
Even with all the planning, practice and patience, some mornings just don’t run smoothly (like when your toddler wants to play rather than get dressed). For the sake of your sanity, remind yourself that progress is more important than perfection.
We’re human, not Wonder Woman. Grabbing a bowl of cereal on occasion isn’t going to drastically hinder our family’s health. Give yourself grace. It’s okay to not have it all together all the time!
An example of a morning routine for a mother of two (ages 4 and 7):
- 6:00 a.m. Mom wakes up and takes 30 minutes to herself to enjoy the morning and mentally prepare for the day ahead (coffee, Healthy Living Log positive affirmations, “me-time”)
- 6:30 a.m. Shower and get dressed
- 7:00 a.m. Wake up the kids
- 7:10 a.m. Make beds, get dressed and brush teeth (encourage independence as much as possible; set a timer to help with the transitions)
- 7:30 a.m. Family eats breakfast (prepped so you’re simply reheating/combining components; consider discussing menu the night before so there’s little-to-no pushback)
- 7:50 a.m. Kids help put dishes in the dishwasher and put on shoes (have the kids pack their bags the night before)
- 8:00 a.m. Scoot everyone out the door (lunches are packed the night before to save time)
- Voila! The pay-off is pretty big for your entire family—a healthy breakfast on the table and smoother transition out the door. Did we mention this helps your kids master valuable skills?
An example of a morning routine WITHOUT children:
- 6:00 a.m. Wake up, make bed and brush teeth
- 6:10 a.m. Enjoy the morning and mentally prepare for the day ahead (coffee, Healthy Living Log positive affirmations, reading or a quick workout; set a timer to help with the transition)
- 6:45 a.m. Shower and get dressed (clothes are picked out the night before to save on time)
- 7:30 a.m. Eat breakfast (plan ahead—see strategy #1; prepped as much as possible—see strategy #2)
- 7:50 a.m. Put dishes away, grab lunch and work bag (both packed the night before)
- 8:00 a.m. Out the door and on time!
Final note: The best ways to make real-food breakfast work in our modern world
- Plan two meals a week for 4 weeks
- Prep ahead
- Make extra food to freeze for future meals
- Develop morning systems and routines
To learn more about real-food basics, check out the rest of our Healthy Staples!