You have five minutes before you need to head out the door to make it to work on time, and you haven’t eaten anything for breakfast. Do you skip breakfast altogether, visit a drive-thru, or stop by the vending machine in your company’s break room? If you answered yes to any of these options, then it’s definitely time for a change.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you plan ahead of time, a healthy breakfast of whole grains, low-fat protein, low-fat dairy, and fruits or vegetables doesn’t take a lot of time to prepare in the morning. When you eat a healthy breakfast in the morning, your productivity increases, you can stay awake and alert until lunchtime, avoid over-eating, and save money by not going to the drive-thru or purchasing unhealthy snacks from overpriced vending machines.
Use variety in your food preparation to make breakfast more interesting. If you eat the same thing day after day, you will be tempted to visit a drive-thru window just to have something different. Make sure you plan healthy meals, and avoid frozen or packaged foods in the morning.
Breakfast Planning and Preparation
Before you begin cooking, purchase some supplies. Some advanced planning and preparation makes cooking breakfasts easy as well.
Here are some important tips to make hassle-free breakfasts:
- Get Food Storage Bags and Containers. Invest in some sturdy, well-made hard-sided food storage containers, freezer bags, and flexible, inexpensive plastic storage containers. In order to quickly and easily access ingredients and staples for these recipes, you can cook and bake some items before you need them. If you have well-made storage containers, you can keep homemade cereals fresh for months at a time. Use freezer bags to store fresh fruits, berries, and other breakfast ingredients in the freezer, and take your breakfast to work in cheap, flexible plastic containers.
- Take the Time to Plan Your Weekly Meals. Having a rough idea of what you plan to eat for the week helps you plan your grocery trips, and helps you with advanced prep work for your meals.
- Review the Lists of Ingredients for Recipes. What staples do you need to have on hand to make these grab and go breakfasts? Create a grocery list using these recipes, and begin looking for sales on the items you need.
- Set Aside One Day a Week to Spend Time Preparing Food for Your Breakfasts. This might mean boiling oats for granola, slicing dates, washing fruit, or cooking some meals in advance.
Once you have the basics down, you can begin cooking and baking. We’ll go over some breakfast ideas that you can pull together over the weekend, the night before, or very quickly in the morning to eat on your commute, at your desk, or during that last five minutes before you have to leave the house:
Quick & Easy Breakfast Ideas
1. Baked Oatmeal
Oatmeal is a heart-healthy, valuable source of fiber and research proves that eating oatmeal can lower cholesterol. If you have never eaten baked oatmeal, do not deny yourself the pleasure any longer. In fact, you may already have the ingredients for this hearty breakfast treat in your kitchen or pantry.
- 2 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans)
- 1/3 cup dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, cherries)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 cups 2% milk
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 tbsp butter, melted
- 1 large egg
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Stir together the oats, brown sugar, nuts, dried fruit, and baking powder.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the milk, applesauce, butter, and egg. Stir into the oats mixture until combined.
- Coat an 11 x 7 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and pour the batter into the dish.
- Bake for 20 minutes in a 375 degree oven.
- After baking, allow to cool and cut into single servings. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in the freezer using a freezer bag. In the morning, remove the wrap and heat in the microwave for about 45 seconds or until gooey and warm.
2. Hummus, Tomato, and Cucumber on a Whole Wheat Bagel
Garbanzo beans, also known as chick peas, are a great source of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals, and are the main ingredient in hummus. Forgo the expensive store-bought hummus; making it at home is easy and much less expensive.
Prepare hummus over the weekend and store it in the refrigerator.
- Drain and rinse a can of garbanzo beans.
- Spin it in the food processor with a couple of garlic cloves, 2 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes (optional), salt, and pepper to taste.
- Drizzle in 3 -4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or more, until you reach your desired consistency.
- Slather over a freshly sliced and toasted whole wheat bagel, and top with thin slices of fresh tomato and cucumber. I have found that bagels from the grocery store’s bakery department taste just as good as bagels from a bagel shop and cost much less.
3. Frozen Fruit Smoothies
The USDA recommends that half of our plates at mealtime consist of fruits and vegetables. You can easily whip up smoothies in the blender in the morning to get your recommended servings of fruits and vegetables.
- Use fresh fruit and frozen fruit, such as apples, bananas, blueberries, mango, pineapple, and strawberries.
- Add some greens, like celery, cucumber, or spinach, and 1/2-1 cup of water.
- To make the smoothie creamy, add coconut milk, low fat milk, soy milk, or yogurt.
- Add an extra shot of protein by adding in one serving of tofu. Silken tofu works best in smoothies, and you can find plain tofu or coconut-favored tofu at the grocery store.
- Pour into a travel container and off you go.
I stock up on fresh fruit during store sales, wash it, cut it into pieces, and store the fruit in the freezer. When bananas get too ripe on the counter, I put them in a freezer bag and store them in the freezer for those mornings when I need a smoothie. If you like an icy smoothie, frozen fruit mixes better than ice in the blender. For more, here are some quick and easy blender recipes you can try.
4. Homemade Granola Bars
This bar combines the wholesomeness of granola, in the convenience of a bar. Store-bought granola bars can be very expensive and often have too much sugar. In this recipe, I replaced the sugar with honey and maple syrup. You can also save money by purchasing many of the ingredients in the bulk department of a discount grocery store.
- 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup sliced or chopped mix of nuts, like almonds, walnuts, and pecans
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened if possible
- 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups dried fruit, such as cranberries, raisins, cherries, and chopped apricots
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- Combine the oats and nuts and spread the mixture evenly on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Bake for 10 minutes, stirring the mixture after five minutes. Keep a close eye on the granola; you don’t want the oats and nuts to burn.
- After baking, carefully transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
- Stir in the wheat germ, coconut, honey, maple syrup, vanilla, salt, and dried fruit and thoroughly mix the ingredients.
- Butter a 9 x 12 baking dish and line it with parchment paper.
- Pour the granola mixture into the pan and press it down with a spatula to pack the granola tightly. If you don’t pack the granola into the pan, the granola will fall apart after baking.
- Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.
- Cool several hours or overnight before cutting into squares. Makes about 16 squares. Store the granola bars in a freezer bag in the freezer.
5. Breakfast Spinach Salad
The main star of this healthful breakfast salad is spinach, an excellent source of vitamins, fiber, and calcium. Simply top the spinach with a hard-boiled egg, Canadian bacon, chopped tomatoes, your favorite vinaigrette, and a whole wheat pita.
This packed salad will keep you going until lunch time. I look for Buy One, Get One Free sales on bagged baby spinach. Prepare this salad the night before to save time, and for the freshest taste.
6. Stuffed Whole Wheat Pita Sandwich
This sandwich covers all of the key components for a healthy breakfast: low-fat dairy, low-fat protein, vegetables, and whole grains. The sandwich helps you get through the morning without feeling sluggish or hungry.
Stuff the pita with lean meat or fish, such as turkey or tuna, your favorite low-fat cheese, vegetables, such as cucumbers, tomatoes, and spinach, and a sliced hard-boiled egg. To save time in the morning, prepare the sandwich the night before.
7. Breakfast Pizza
Forget about that cold, leftover pizza in the refrigerator and instead make a quick and easy English muffin pizza.
Split a whole wheat English muffin and top each slice with a thin slice of Canadian bacon, a fresh tomato slice, and 2 tbsp of shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese. Bake in a toaster oven at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
Bake the pizza while you prepare for work in the morning and you can have a hearty breakfast ready right before you walk out the door.
8. Fruit and Nut Breakfast Cookies
I can hear my mother now, telling me, “you can’t eat cookies for breakfast.” But even my mother would approve of these healthy breakfast cookies; they have dried fruit, nuts, and whole grains, and are sweetened with honey. You probably already have many of the ingredients in your pantry.
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 3 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup whole-wheat flour
- 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts, such as walnuts, almonds or pecans
- 1/4 cup dried fruit, such as raisins or cranberries
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Beat egg lightly, and add applesauce, honey, peanut butter, and vanilla. Mix until combined.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour, oats, salt, and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and stir until combined.
- Stir in the nuts and dried fruit.
- Grease cookie sheet with butter. With a spoon, drop batter onto the cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Bake for 8 – 9 minutes. Makes about 20 cookies.
- Make a batch or two and store in a freezer bag in the freezer.
9. Freezer Breakfast Burritos
Eggs have received a bad rap in the past, but one large egg has 13 essential vitamins and minerals, about 6 grams of protein, and only 70 calories. A dozen eggs costs around $2, so at 16 cents a serving, they also make an economical addition to your breakfast.
You may not have time to scramble eggs in the morning, but you can freeze them the night before to save time. I was skeptical at first. After all, freezing scrambled eggs did not sound very tasty. But I learned that reheated frozen eggs actually taste wonderful.
It only takes two minutes to scramble an egg in the microwave. If you want to avoid the cholesterol found in the egg yolk, you can also use egg whites, available in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 pound turkey sausage
- 1 green or red sweet pepper, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 12 large eggs
- 1/2 cup 2% milk (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
- cheese, shredded
- salsa (optional)
- 12-14 medium sized tortillas
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and add the turkey sausage, pepper, and onion.
- Break the sausage up into tiny pieces and brown the sausage until completely cooked, and peppers and onions are soft. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper until combined.
- Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of butter and melt all over the pan. Add the eggs and scramble until cooked through.
- Warm the tortillas in microwave per the package instructions.
- Layer 1/2 cup scrambled eggs, 1/2 cup cooked sausage and peppers mixture, 1-2 tbsp shredded cheese, and a little salsa on a warmed medium-sized tortilla. Fold up into a burrito.
- Place each burrito on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and flash-freeze in the freezer for at least 60 minutes. Wrap each burrito in foil and store in a freezer bag in the freezer.
- When ready to eat, remove foil, wrap in a paper towel and microwave for about 60 seconds or until warm all the way through. Breakfast is served!
10. Savory Breakfast Muffins
When people think of breakfast muffins, they usually think of the sweet varieties, such as blueberry or banana nut. However, instead of starting your day with a lot of sugar that has you crashing and burning by noon, try these savory muffins loaded with eggs, oats, Canadian bacon, red pepper, and cheddar cheese. This is a great breakfast for those days when you need a lot of energy!
- 6 large eggs
- 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped Canadian bacon
- 1/2 cup chopped red pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 cup flour
- 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and applesauce until combined.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and pepper. Add to the egg mixture and stir until just combined. Mix in the cheese, Canadian bacon, pepper, and parsley.
- Prepare a 12-muffin pan with non-stick spray. Pour in the batter and bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until baked through. The tops of the muffins should be set and a toothpick poked through the muffin should come out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes and then remove from pan.
- Once cooled, wrap individually in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag and store in the freezer. When ready to eat, remove plastic wrap, wrap in a paper towel and microwave for 30-45 seconds until heated through.
11. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt has gained popularity in the U.S., primarily because of its health benefits. Non-fat Greek yogurt is high in protein, and low in sugar and carbohydrates.
Mix yogurt with fresh berries or bananas, and a scoop of homemade granola or muesli. Combining the tasty yogurt with fresh fruit and a low-fat grain keeps you full until lunchtime. Greek yogurt is also a healthy and nutritious snack idea.
12. Cold Cereal
A tried-and true favorite, you can quickly fix a bowl of cereal before you head to work. Combine homemade granola or muesli with fruit and soy milk to kickstart your morning.
Fruit contains essential vitamins and minerals and soy has protein that can give you the extra energy you need in the morning. The carbohydrates in the cereal keep you full, so you won’t be tempted by a late-morning foray into the break room.
Making a healthy, homemade breakfast takes some initial planning and kitchen prep time either the weekend or the night before your work day. If you can spend an hour or two a couple of times a week preparing breakfasts, you can make several of these recipes to have them ready to go in the mornings before work.
Pair any of these ideas with some fresh fruit and you can have a more productive day, and avoid binge eating fast food and vending machine snacks. And you just might have more money in your pocket at the end of the week. To save even more on your breakfast food, check out these tips on how to extreme coupon on groceries.
How do you avoid the drive-thru window in the morning? What are your favorite grab and go breakfast recipe ideas?