By Lisa Graff, UNL Dietetic Intern
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Most of us have heard this so many times that it goes in one ear and out the other. All meals are important, but breakfast really does help set the tone for the rest of the day. Research has shown that people who eat breakfast are less likely to overeat throughout the day and that people who don’t eat breakfast consume more calories than breakfast eaters! So how can you make breakfast work for you?
Get Into A Routine – The first step to mastering breakfast is to carve out a specific “breakfast time” in your day. It can be early – right when you get out of bed, or later – right before you leave for work or school. By being consistent and having breakfast at the same time every day, your family will soon grow accustomed to the routine.
Think About Balance – Most kids would be happy eating a toaster pastry or bowl of cereal every morning and calling it good! However, it is important that we provide a balanced breakfast in order to stay full until lunch time. A balanced breakfast will include at least 3 of the 5 food groups; dairy, fruit, vegetables, protein and grains.
Here are some examples of balanced breakfasts:
- A piece of toast (grain) with peanut butter (protein) and banana slices (fruit)
- Oatmeal (grain) with berries (fruit) and a glass of milk (dairy)
- Scrambled eggs (protein) and a bowl of cereal (grain) with milk (dairy)
*Tip: Including protein and fiber in your breakfast (and other meals) will help keep you full longer!
Be Prepared – Mornings can be tough for lots of people, me included! If you are not a morning person, think about preparing breakfast ahead of time. Foods like eggs, meats and baked goods can be cooked the night before, then reheated at breakfast time. If you are crunched for time on weeknights, try making a week’s worth of breakfasts on the weekend.
Here are some examples of foods that can be prepared ahead of time:
- Waffles/Pancakes – make a double batch on the weekend, then freeze with waxed paper between each. At breakfast time, heat in the microwave for 30 seconds or pop into the toaster!
- Muffins – make a large batch of whole grain muffins on the weekend, then freeze. Muffins can be thawed by placing them on the counter the night before you plan to eat them.
- Eggs and meats can be cooked the night before, placed in the refrigerator and then microwaved in the morning.
The most important thing about breakfast is eating it – so don’t skip breakfast just because it isn’t perfect!