Weekday mornings are a disaster for our household. I have three elementary school-age kids that I need to feed and get on the bus. Any ideas for fast and easy breakfast meals that kids will actually eat in the morning?
Your conscientiousness about feeding your children in the morning is backed by good research. According to the American Dietetic Association, research shows that “breakfast-skippers” often feel tired, irritable or restless in the morning; but those who regularly eat a morning meal have a better attitude towards school and have more energy by late morning. While our future Einsteins of the world should be fueling their bodies and brains after a long night’s sleep, over 20% of American children ages 12 to 19 don’t eat a crumb in the morning.
Understanding the importance of eating breakfast and its effect on learning, I was motivated recently to conduct a highly scientific research survey of my own to ascertain the most popular breakfast foods eaten by a pediatric population. To do this, I gathered together a sample of five children, ages 6 to 11-1/2 years, and shuttled these research subjects into my car. Being a working mother, I conducted my survey questioning while simultaneously driving them to a summer sports camp.
I used a sophisticated survey research design that allowed for no bias (I was unable to see who was providing the answers to the survey questions as my eyes were glued to the road) and that allowed for no loss of subjects (the kiddies were buckled in their seats, and my car has automatic door locks). The responses regarding their breakfast likes were jotted down in shorthand on the back of my grocery receipt while we were stopped at various rush-hour traffic lights.
Throwing out the data that was tainted, such as breakfast meals made up of solely of M&M’s, potato chips, or root beer, I have uncovered several kid-friendly morning meals. Here are the research results showing the group’s top five breakfast favorites, with a smidgen of nutrition thrown in to make my colleagues happy:
Group’s No. 1 Choice: Cinnamon French Toast. When it comes to ideas for breakfast foods, these kids dream big. The best way to fulfill their dreams without making your morning into a weekday nightmare is to prepare the French Toast on the weekend. Here’s how: In a bowl, beat 8 egg whites and a splash of milk, along with a ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Heat a griddle pan with a tad of non-butter stick. Dunk slices of whole wheat bread in the egg white mixture and grill, slice by slice. Do this for an ENTIRE loaf of bread. Freeze leftovers in a covered, freezer-proof container and reheat the slices, as needed, in the toaster oven. Top the French toast with a smidgen of syrup, jam, or fruit spread and chase with a glass of milk or juice.
Group’s No. 2 Choice: Blender Blast. This group of research subjects just loved the idea of blasting off to school with a breakfast smoothie. Set up the blender the night before. In the morning, combine low fat milk, nonfat vanilla yogurt, ice and a banana, frozen berries, or juice-packed canned peaches in blender and swirl. Line up the glasses and pour. Serve with a bran or whole grain muffins . The muffins can be made up on the weekend and frozen for a quick defrost during the week.
Group’s No. 3 Choice: English Muffin Cheese Melt. Let’s face it: kids will eat pizza (or anything that resembles it) any time of the day. Toast a whole wheat or whole grain English muffin in toaster oven. (You can typically fit six halves at one time in the toaster oven so there should be enough for the entire crew.) Sprinkle each half with some pre-shredded mozzarella or light cheddar cheese. Heat for about one minute to melt cheese. Add milk or juice and a piece of fruit for a complete breakfast.
Breakfast No. 4 Choice: Cereal Bar and Milk. This is a good option for those mornings when it’s “every (wo)man for him/herself”. The night before, place 3 to 4 boxes of whole grain cereals — such as raisin bran, Cheerios, Wheaties, Wheat Chex, shredded wheat — along with boxes of raisins, chopped dates, or other dried fruit and cereal bowls on the kitchen table. When the kiddies come to the breakfast table in the morning, let them make their own breakfast by filling their bowl with a combination of their favorite cereals topped with dried fruit. Buy the low-fat milk in easy-to-pour, ½-gallon jugs so that the kids can serve themselves from the refrigerator. The dishwasher will do the cleanup.
Group’s Breakfast No. 5: Bagel Bonanza. If you are sick of being a short order bagel assembler, let the kids do it themselves. Keep a variety of sliced bagels in the freezer or refrigerator and pop them in the toaster. Place the toasted bagel halves on a platter on the table, along with whipped cream cheese, tub-style margarine, peanut butter, and jelly. Let the kids smear to their delight. Provide glasses of milk or juice for them to chase their bagel creations.