Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Streamlining School Morning Breakfasts
Kari Lewis, MSU Extension - Glacier County

Last week we discussed lunch options for school kids (there's some great ideas available at, so today will focus on some ideas to streamline breakfasts for your kids.  We always hear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and the data supports that statement, especially for kids whose brains are developing and who need to concentrate throughout the school day.  Research shows that kids who eat breakfast score higher on math, reading, and standardized test scores and have longer attention spans.  In addition, kids who eat breakfast are less likely to be absent or tardy, are more likely to behave better in school, consume more important nutrients and are less prone to being overweight.  Breakfast eating kids make fewer visits to the school nurse, and are not as irritable, tired, or fidgety as kids who don’t eat breakfast.   

While most agree that breakfast is important, it can still be a challenge to ensure that kids receive a healthy breakfast and make it to school on time.  A nutritious breakfast combines a protein-rich food such as milk, yogurt, cheese, or peanut butter, a complex carbohydrate, such as a whole grain cereal, bread, or muffin, and a serving of vitamin C such as an orange, grapefruit, or strawberries. 

For Grab and Go breakfasts, keep at least two nutritious items on hand that are easy for kids to grab. These should be stored in highly visible, convenient spots where even young kids can reach them.  Some options for grab and go breakfasts include frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cereal and yogurt or milk, fresh fruit, trail mix (without the candy), or cheese sticks.  If cereal and unbreakable bowls are stored in a low cabinet, and milk is kept on a low shelf, kids can serve themselves breakfast, potentially helping ease some of the morning rush.

Homemade breakfast burritos can easily be made in a large batch,
frozen in individual ziploc bags, and reheated for a
quick breakfast.  Photo by Kari Lewis.
Personally, I’ve found that making a large batch of breakfast burritos and then freezing them in individual Ziploc bags works great to have a breakfast on hand for my husband who leaves the house far earlier than I do!  I also like to make muffins and quick breads, and can easily substitute in whole wheat flour to add more fiber to the recipe, can use applesauce instead of oil for less fat in the recipe, and often reduce the sugar as well, to make for a healthier breakfast item.  After baking, I typically slice the quick breads and individually wrap slices, and place them in a Ziploc freezer bag which makes for a quick breakfast item. 
Slow cooker oatmeal is an easy breakfast that can be
prepared the night before.  Photo by Kari Lewis.

Some other tips to help make breakfast time run smoothly include:
 - Get clothes, backpacks, and school items ready the night before so that breakfast isn’t rushed.
- Allow time for breakfast, you can even set out the plates and glasses the night before to make it easier.
·         Sit down together at the table, and turn off the TV or radio, unless you’re listening to the KSEN School Lunch Menu together!
·Plan a weeks’ breakfast menu at one time, it will be easier to stick to it if there’s a plan.

There are numerous ideas available for quick, nutritious breakfasts for your family, and your child will benefit both in the classroom and in life from having a breakfast routine.  

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