The kids will soon be heading back to school, which means mornings just got more hectic. But before you grab a donut on the way out the door—or skip breakfast all together—remember that eating a nutritious breakfast is possible. And it doesn’t need to be time consuming.
By spending just a few minutes on meal prep earlier in the week, you can have a filling, delicious breakfast ready to go in no time at all. And that’s great news since recent research has found skipping breakfast may lead to nutrient gaps in essential nutrients such as calcium, vitamin C, and vitamin D. In addition, skipping breakfast has been linked with a decline in school performance in kids.
To help you pack in the most nutrition in the shortest amount of time, we turned to the experts and had them share their top picks for make-ahead breakfasts on busy mornings.
What makes a nutritionally complete breakfast?
The goal of any breakfast should be to provide you with a nutrient-rich meal that fuels you for the day ahead. A breakfast filled with complex carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats provides a great balance of nutrients your body needs along with long-lasting energy.
In order to give yourself the best chance at having a balanced breakfast, planning ahead is key. “Having balanced, filling breakfast options that are already prepared can help save you time, money, and keep you on track with your health goals,” explains Andrea Goergen, MHS, RDN, LDN, owner of Cultivate Healthy.
Here are five balanced, make-ahead breakfast options to enjoy on your busy back-to-school mornings:
3-Ingredient Chia Pudding
For a fiber-rich, filling breakfast, Dr. Lisa Leslie-Williams, PharmD, a holistic wellness expert and founder of Domestic Life Stylist, recommends whipping up a quick and easy chia pudding. “Chia seeds are a true superfood with just one ounce containing 10 grams of fiber, more than what you find in many cereals and even fruits and nuts. This makes chia pudding a filling and powerful start to any day.”
To make this simple breakfast, place ¼ cup of chia seeds into a mason jar with 1 cup of milk along with a splash of maple syrup, then refrigerate overnight. “In the morning, top the chia pudding with fruit or nuts if desired and you’re ready to go,” adds Leslie-Williams. This recipe can be adapted to incorporate a variety of milk options from coconut milk to nut milk and makes two servings. And since this recipe is made in a mason jar, you can just grab a spoon and take the jar with you for the perfect on-the-go option.
Eggs are a protein-rich breakfast staple, but making eggs on busy mornings isn’t always possible. That’s where this oven-baked frittata comes in. Not only is this make-ahead recipe packed with filling protein to help satisfy hunger, but it provides an easy way to fit in more vegetables into your morning as well. “Frittatas are basically a baked omelet and a great way to incorporate any vegetables you have on hand from onions, to kale, tomatoes, or even zucchini,” shares Goergen.
To make a simple frittata, whisk six eggs along with a splash of milk, a cup of chopped vegetables (any variety can work), and a handful of cheese if desired. Then pour the mixture into a greased 9-inch square baking dish and bake for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees F.
Once prepared, you can enjoy your frittata fresh out of the oven or cut it into individual servings and store it in the refrigerator or freezer. “You can thaw frozen frittata in the refrigerator overnight and reheat in the morning for a hearty, healthy breakfast that provides the energy and fiber to hold you over until lunch,” adds Goergen.
Think making a parfait in advance will lead to a soggy breakfast? Think again! Culinary nutrition expert Laura M. Ali, MS, RD shares a simple hack that makes the perfect solution for yogurt lovers.
“Mix a large container of plain Greek yogurt with fresh or frozen berries and chia seeds and divide this between individual containers that are refrigerator safe, like mason jars,” she says. “Then, mix chopped walnuts and granola together into small snack bags and tape them to the top of the jars to mix in when you are ready to eat.” The portability of the mason jars makes this an easy on-the-go breakfast solution while the ingredients are just the right mix for fueling your body. “You get the benefit of lean protein, calcium, fiber, antioxidants, and healthy plant-based omega 3 fatty acids to help kick start your day,” adds Ali.
Who wouldn’t want to eat cookies for breakfast? Unfortunately, grabbing a traditional cookie from a vending machine on a busy morning won’t fuel your body in the right way. But these make-ahead breakfast cookies can satisfy your sweet tooth while providing you with the nutrition you need. “Combining whole grain oats with nut butter and banana, along with add-ins like nuts or chocolate chips makes for a breakfast cookie packed full of protein and fiber,” shares Goergen.
To make a batch of breakfast cookies, combine 1 medium banana along with 1 egg, a pinch of vanilla, and ½ cup of plain Greek yogurt or a nut-butter of your choice into a high-speed blender or food processor. In a separate bowl, mix together 1 cup of oat flour along with one teaspoon of baking powder and a pinch of salt. Blend together to create your ‘cookie dough’ and fold in add-ins such as chocolate chips or chopped nuts if desired. Place your dough onto a greased baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees F for 15-18 minutes. Breakfast cookies can be enjoyed right away or stored in a refrigerator for up to five days.
Smoothies are a great grab-and-go option, but prepping for them can be time consuming—unless you know one simple trick. For quick smoothies, think ahead by chopping and adding your ingredients into small freezer-safe bags. Simply freeze the individual servings and when you are ready for your smoothie, pour the contents of the frozen bag into the blender, add water or milk, and blend. And just like that, you have a smoothie ready to go in less than two minutes.
To make sure your smoothie keeps you full, remember one important detail. “One of the biggest smoothie mistakes people make is adding only fruit and ice. Be sure to add some protein and healthy fat to keep you fuller longer,” shares Goergen. Using Greek yogurt can be a great way to boost the protein content, while add-ins such as avocado and nut butter can make for a creamy, thick smoothie rich in filling, plant-based fats, and fiber.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.
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