Events, features and things to do for families in New Hampshire
By Wendy Thomas
We all know that breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day but many of us also know that morning is often the most hectic time of the day. And if your kids are like my kids, they are too busy getting ready for school to sit down and eat a good meal.
What’s a parent to do?
If you read this column regularly, you know that on the weekends I plan out our dinner menus for the upcoming week. It eliminates the “we have nothing for dinner blues” and it also helps me to create a cost-effective shopping list where I only buy what I need.
But what about breakfast? In the summer when things are a little more lax and schedules are not as tight, I usually let the kids fend for themselves. They’ll have fruit, toast, and if there is time, they’ll even scramble an egg or two. Things change, though, when school starts. All of a sudden there is pressure to get up and out, and often breakfast is skipped in exchange for a few more minutes of sleep.
Occasionally I buy cereal, but more often than not the cereal is never finished. And I refuse to buy those prepackaged breakfasts because for cost and as a matter of principal. But my kids still need to eat something quick, so here’s what I’ve learned: when you still have four kids in the public school system (two of ours are at college) you need to plan breakfast as much as you plan weekly dinner menus. More often than not that means cooking on the weekends. Some breakfast ideas that can help kids put good food in their stomachs quickly include:
Bacon – We love bacon, but that’s something that’s usually reserved for the weekends when we have more time. What I’ve found is that you can cook bacon on the weekend and then freeze it in a resealable bag. The kids take it out as needed, pop it in the microwave, and within minutes they have BLT toast or even bacon and peanut butter on toast. My high school boys especially like this breakfast.
Muffins – On the weekends I try to bake a batch of muffins. The key is to keep them as healthy as possible while still making them tasty. When I make breakfast muffins, I’ll add flax seed, pumpkins seeds, bits of apple, and even some chocolate chips. I’ve also been known to throw in a handful of that uneaten cereal. Muffins can be grabbed and eaten on the way to the bus stop.
Juice – This one is a little tricky. So many juices are just flavored sugar water. I try to get good brands of juice and I went to a thrift store and bought a set of vintage juice glasses (you know those tiny jelly-jar like glasses) to use in the mornings. My kids are welcome to have juice, but even when it’s natural, they only need a little bit of that concentrated energy to get going.
English muffin sandwiches – Toast the English muffin while you are getting your school supplies together and throw on a slice of deli-meat and cheese. What you get is an instant (warm) breakfast sandwich. If you want the cheese melted you can then put it in the microwave for a few minutes.
English muffin garlic toast – Toast an English muffin, add butter and then some roasted garlic salt. Although you might not think that garlic is an appropriate breakfast food, my kids think it’s a treat to get a food that is usually served at night in the morning.
Shakes/smoothies – Although we aren’t so big on shakes and smoothies, I know other families are. Combine juice with milk or throw some fruit with juice, milk or yogurt into a blender and in a matter of minutes you have a quick, eye-opening breakfast.
Oatmeal – None of my kids like that slimy instant oatmeal (do you blame them?) but we like steel cut oatmeal. Our secret quick trick? A small 6-cup rice steamer. Use a ¼ cup of oatmeal and add ½ cup of water. If you measure these out the night before, it’s even faster. Just dump them together and stir. With the lid off the rice steamer, press ON and then go on your way. By the time you come back the oatmeal is ready. Add a bit of fruit, a pat of butter and the end result is you won’t be hungry until lunch time.
How about you – have any good quick kids’ breakfast tricks you’d like to share?
Next month I’ll share with you some of our best tricks for packing cost-effective and healthy school lunches.
Wendy Thomas lives in Merrimack with her husband and six children, and has been published in various regional magazines and newspapers. Check out her blog Simple Thrift-Creative Living on Less, at http://simplethrift.wordpress.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.