I don’t know about the rest of you parents out there, but the hardest part of going back to school is the chaos that mornings bring.
The idea of having my kids dressed, fed and prepared for the day by 7:30 a.m. makes me queasy! I have gotten way too comfortable with our lazy summer mornings, and this dental spouse would love to tell you my kids are freshly brushed and flossed at drop off, but some mornings, I’m just lucky to get them to school before the tardy bell rings!
Teachers, I apologize, for the dragon breath…
That being said, I have spent some time thinking about what I could do to streamline our morning process– without feeding my family the garbage from aisle six. The offenders shall remain nameless, but you know exactly what I’m talking about!
If you have spent any time in the breakfast/cereal aisle of your favorite grocery store, you know how colorful the packaging is, and you have probably noticed several of your children’s favorite cartoon characters or princesses making a cameo on those boxes, too.
This is America’s food-marketing-machine hard at work; trying to undermine your ability to reasonably and nutritiously feed your family. We can do so much better than this! Filling our children with sugar and refined carbohydrates is no way to prepare them for a day of learning.
If you haven’t noticed, I’m a little fed up with America’s food-marketing- machine; what parent isn’t’?! So I want to share a few ideas that have helped streamline the mornings in our house.
Streamlining The Morning Freight Train
Did I mention my children love Toaster Strudels? Even I admit, they’re pretty yummy, but I think we all know those things belong on a dessert tray, at best, and nowhere near the breakfast table.
Most nutritious breakfast foods take time and effort to prepare, not to mention, the clean up– my least favorite part!
To keep the breakfast aisle crap at bay, I have begun using either Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon as my time to prepare breakfast ideas for the upcoming week. With a little time spent on the weekend, I find my mornings during the weekdays are much less hectic!
Preparation is Key!
Here’s a little breakdown of what I do.
First: I scramble 10 eggs with a little half and half. Then I undercook them a little so when I nuke them in the mornings (for 30 seconds) they don’t become overdone. And, If I have it, I dice up some ham and add it, too. If you have a stubborn eater, it’s amazing what a little shred of cheese can do – try it!
Next: Bacon is a huge favorite in our house, if you haven’t tried baking it on a baking sheet, this is the only way to fly. You don’t have to flip it and your grease stays easily collected. 25 minutes at 350 degrees and the bacon comes out wonderfully crisp. It also reheats in the toaster oven in about a minute. I usually cook up two packages to last us the week.
Also, when I’m in the process of reheating the bacon and eggs, I’ll grab whatever’s ripest: apple/banana/grapes/orange, etc. and serve it as well. BAM! Breakfast is done.
If my kids finish what’s on their plate, they can have a Trader Joe’s cereal bar. Trader Joe’s’ cereal bars have cleaner ingredients than Nutri-Grain, which is another product that is named inaccurately. Nutri.. Nothing!
Another breakfast idea I love is overnight steel cut oats. They reheat beautifully and I find we eat these pretty often. I love the options Food Network offers HERE! So many things you can add to your oats– berries, nuts, coconut, etc. The options are pretty endless, actually.
Another time-saving idea we love is making a large batch of yogurt smoothies and freezing them in small cups with lids. You can then pull a cup out of the freezer the night before and pop in the fridge. By morning, they’re the perfect consistency. The fantastic people at All Recipes have a TON of different smoothie recipes. Check them out!
I have such a sweet tooth in the morning so I love having one waiting for me; it keeps me from grabbing whatever sweet thing I see in my kid’s treat basket.
Breakfast is Not Just for kids!
We’ve all heard it and most of us will hear our mother’s voice when we read: “Breakfast is not just for kids!”
Equally important is the way my husband starts his day. Randy works out three mornings a week, so he leaves the house pretty early– usually around 6:00am, and because I myself, am not a huge fan of scrambled eggs, I began making a frittata for the two of us.
The great thing about a frittata is you can use whatever you have on hand… veggies, leftover meat and lots of cheese. At least that’s usually what ends up in ours and it goes great with that toasted bacon!
Hint: Use some of the grease (doesn’t take more than a few tablespoons) from your bacon to sauté your veggies before you add the eggs; we love that great bacon flavor! I usually wrap Randy’s frittata individually so he can throw it in the toaster oven at his office.
I also employ this preparedness technique for tackling those pesky weekday lunches. I make all of the kid’s sandwiches for the entire week, during the weekend.
My kids are purists, peanut butter and jelly and turkey or ham with cheese. That is how they roll. I have found all three varieties freeze just fine and will thaw overnight in the fridge.
Obviously there is some clean up involved, but knocking it all out at once is totally doable in two hours or less!
Think Outside The Box – Secrets Out!
Now that I have given you my tips, I have a confession to make: I let my kids eat a Toaster Strudel on Saturday mornings. Randy and I strongly believe in good nutrition, but also think you have to live a little. We think one indulgence a week isn’t going to derail our overall goal of healthy eating.
Well, while I write this, my frittata and bacon have cooled and are ready to be divided into portions. It’s a great feeling knowing a week’s worth of healthy breakfast options are in the fridge.
I hope everyone’s school year has a strong start! Wakey, wakey, eggs, and bacey!!
Breakfast hacks from the kitchen of Cullan Pagenkopf