Avery Breakfast

Taking The Guesswork Out Of Breakfast

I don’t know about you but I’ve become less and less of a morning person since becoming a mom. Pre-kid, I prided myself on how up-and-at-‘em I could be in the morning. When my sailor husband and I were newlyweds, I would get up with him at 4 am, make him a doppio espresso, breakfast and lunch for him to take to the ship. We’d get him out the door by 0500.

{You’d think that would get him home at a reasonable hour! That’s neither here nor there. Shout out to all you rock star, handling-it-all, grin-and-bear-it military spouses!}

But now that we have 3 little ones, I feel like I should get a medal when they’re dressed, fed, and ready for the day before 8:30. On those mornings, triumphant music plays in my head (think Olympics!) as I descend the stairs with my freshly dressed and happy children. Just ignore the backwards t-shirt: he dresses himself!

Mornings are a challenge, yes, but we’ve learned to do a couple things to help ourselves out: setting out clothes the night (afternoon even!) before so preschoolers can easily dress themselves, having a routine they’re used to, and taking the guesswork out of breakfast.

My still up-and-at-‘em husband (bless his heart) knows and shares my sentiments on nutrition. Cereal isn’t enough to get the boost we want. At the same time, it’s unreasonable for us to put on our chef’s hats right out of bed after a night of broken sleep to cook an all-natural breakfast. It’s tension between good nutrition and my need for sleep! So, here’s what dear husband did:

  1. Experimented

He spent a month or two trying various breakfast recipes that were nutritious and simple. It was an audition, in a way! Come on in, breakfasts. Impress me! This was a fun process, because we got to try a bunch of different breakfasts and give some feedback.

  1. Narrowed it down

Based on important criteria – simplicity, leftover friendly, hearty – he narrowed it down to five breakfasts that he rotates through:

  • Quinoa oatmeal (click here)
  • Hearty wheat-oat-cornmeal pancakes with peanut butter and syrup
  • Potato hash (including whatever leftover veggies we have) & eggs over easy

And on the weekends since these are a little more fun:

  • Quiche (again, including leftover veggies)
  • French toast
  1. Made a repertoire

This is the part where you rinse and repeat. My husband will make a big batch of breakfast (often doubling or tripling the original recipe) and freeze or refrigerate the leftovers for the following days. He actually ends up cooking from scratch only a few times a week and we reheat as we go. Quinoa oatmeal and quiche gets refrigerated, then reheated via microwave. Pancakes and French toast get frozen, then toasted in the morning. Hash gets revived on the stove top with a little more oil (and eggs are always made fresh, of course).

Since he’s now so familiar with these few breakfasts, he can do them by heart and alter them as he chooses – adding veggies we need to get rid of, for example.

Now, most mornings I get up with the kids, all I do is microwave or pop something in the toaster and voila! Hearty breakfast! Whenever we have pancakes available, our almost 5-year-old is quick to find them in the freezer and gets them toasting before we even get out of bed.

Now that we have these meals down pat, we rifle through them without much mental effort or planning. They are all fairly nutritious, but we do try to add a boost where we can: by using peanut butter and 100% pure maple syrup on our pancakes, for example.

This isn’t just a feel-good effort so we can brag to everyone about how well we feed our children. Starting the day off right has truly had an impact. We’re not above milk and cereal; there is always a box in our pantry. But whenever we feed our kids something sugary and over-processed (like cereal, or even jam and toast), the kids drive me up the wall all morning! The simple carbohydrates go straight to their heads and they get all wound up as a result. The good thing about these five breakfasts is they are primarily whole grains, protein, or veggies.

If you’re thinking about making the switch from the normal cereal-based breakfast to a routine that is more nutritious, the least of your worries should be whether or not your kids will eat it. Sure, if cereal is around that’s all they’re going to want. But, after normalizing them to quinoa oats or only having bacon eggs and hash browns, our kids didn’t seem to be missing the cereal too much. Kids only have a short-term memory and hunger reigns. We’ve found that they eventually think that’s all there is to eat and dig right in.

This may not work for everyone’s schedule, but it sure starts kids off right in the morning. Good luck and happy breakfasts!

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