Getting your family off to a good start when they're in a hurry!

Fast and Nutritious Breakfast Ideas

by Shari Smith


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You only have five minutes to get your kids to eat. No, wait! That was five minutes ago! What's a harried parent to do? You grab a few crumbling pop tarts and bundle your children off to school. After all, breakfast has been scientifically proven to be the most important meal of the day.

Leanne Ely, C.N.C. from SavingDinner.com says, "No meal is more important than breakfast. This is the meal that breaks the fast from the night before and stokes your metabolism. It's also the meal that gets the brain and body ready to face the day. Going without breakfast, especially for kids, puts them at a huge disadvantage in school and will not help them keep up academically, physically or emotionally even, with their breakfast-fed peers."

Here are several ideas to help make the start of your day as stress-free as morning sunshine. Make-ahead meals are a Mom or Dad's lifesaver. On the weekends when I have a bit more time, I make a whole box of pancake mix into pancakes or waffles. I freeze the cooled cakes and waffles for about two weeks' worth of quick, tasty breakfasts.

You can sneak in bits of fruit or nuts for even more nutrition and to vary the taste. French toast is another treat at our house. I make a whole loaf for about $2, a huge saving over the expensive, store bought brands. My kids think homemade is much tastier, too.

Another fast meal is eggs and toast. One or two eggs a week are a good source of protein, and you can prepare them in a variety of ways to keep it interesting. Muffins are as easy as 1,2,3 and a great grab and go breakfast. Add a juice box or a travel cup of milk and you're all set with time to spare.

Cold cereal is a staple, but "kids cereals" can get expensive, not to mention all the extra sugar loaded into each bowl. Look for store brands and cereals on the top and bottom shelves for the best prices. My kids can't tell a taste difference. Sales and coupons go a long way. If possible, shop without your kids so you don't get talked into buying high prices, sugar-loaded fluff.

Nothing fills tummies better than oatmeal or other hot cereals on a cold winter's day. There are a ton of new flavors on the market, even chocolate and s'mores. I use one or two packets of instant flavored oatmeal and add regular oatmeal for a terrific meal. My kids like the fruit flavored kinds the best, or I add diced fruit like canned peaches or pears.

Cereal bars work in a pinch, but some of the brands are so packed with sugar and fat that they're more like a candy bar. I choose ones with a granola base and maybe chocolate chips or nuts added. Sunbelt® puts out lots of choices for everyone's taste and is easy on the budget as well. They are at least half price of the national brands.

Fruit fits the bill as well, whether it's a banana in your cereal, a bowl of melon balls and toast, or a glass of OJ. Grapes are the ultimate fruit on the go. Kids generally love apples and peanut butter. Orange sections make great finger food. Letting them choose will make getting five a day a breeze.

Another timesaving strategy is setting your alarm fifteen minutes earlier than the kid's wake-up time. It gives you a chance to face the day, with or without a bracing cup of coffee. You'll feel better about fixing a nutritious breakfast on the run.

Now you and your kids can face the day with a smile instead of a race out the door with tummies growling. With one less thing to worry about, your day will get off to a great start.

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