Your parents weren’t lying when they told you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Along with helping prevent the hangriness that can come with skipping a meal, eating breakfast is linked to a slew of health benefits, including better intake of important nutrients (like calcium), lower body mass index, a decreased risk of chronic disease and even a better quality of life.
But unfortunately, nearly one-quarter of Americans are skipping the first meal of the day. Grabbing a cup of coffee while running out the door seems to be the norm for many thanks to our overall busy lifestyles and having what is perceived to be “no time to eat.”
While it would be nice if all of us had the time (and desire) to whip up homemade whole-grain muffins and veggie frittatas made from the produce we grew in our backyard gardens, the reality is that many people don’t have the time or the bandwidth to cook up a leisurely and healthy brekkie.
But there are some good-for-you and quick breakfast ideas for the “too busy for breakfast” crowd that can help you fill your belly with important nutrients. With a little preplanning and possibly a touch of evening or weekend meal prep, having a quick and healthy breakfast option at your fingertips can be a reality every day of the week.
Here are five good-for-you and quick breakfast ideas that can help busy people eat something before they rush out the door to tackle their day. Each option contains nutrients like protein, fiber and healthy fats to promote satiety, and they are all jampacked with vitamins and minerals to help support energy levels and overall health.
1. Make-ahead frozen breakfast sandwiches
Skip the drive-thru and enjoy your own breakfast sandwiches that take less than 60 seconds to nuke in the microwave. Doing this not only will save you money but also will help make sure you aren’t taking in too much added fat and salt early in the day.
To make a make-ahead sandwich, simply top six whole-grain English muffin halves with six cooked chicken sausage patties. Top the patty with a slice of cheese, then place the second half of the muffin on top. Wrap each sandwich in tinfoil individually and freeze for up to one month.
To reheat, simply thaw one sandwich in the fridge the night before. In the morning, remove from foil, wrap in a paper towel and microwave for 40 seconds. Combine the sandwich with a fresh piece of fruit for a nutritious and convenient nosh.
This is a perfect breakfast solution for adults and kids alike. Starting the day with chicken can help keep the midday hunger pangs away because chicken is an excellent source of protein — a nutrient that helps promote satiety. The slice of cheese fuels this breakfast with even more protein, along with major nutrients like calcium.
2. Chia seed pudding
If you aren’t familiar with chia seeds, it is time to get acquainted. These little seeds are a nutritious superfood because they are loaded with key nutrients, including iron and calcium. Plus, they contain healthy fats, protein and fiber — three nutrients that can help support satiety and help prevent those hunger pangs.
Not much of a cook? If you can combine milk and chia seeds in a jar, then you can handle chia seed pudding. This pudding is a perfect quick breakfast idea, since you’ll handle the prep work the night before.
Simply combine 3 tablespoons of chia seeds with 1 cup of milk of choice in a jar and stir. Place the mixture in the fridge overnight, and in the morning, you will be presented with a nutrient-dense and delish breakfast pudding.
Feel free to drizzle in a touch of pure maple syrup for some sweetness or top it with some nuts and fresh fruit for extra nutrients and fiber. But no matter how you prep your pudding, you will be glad to have a stick-to-your-ribs option that is totally grab-and-go waiting for you in the morning.
3. Make-ahead smoothies
Smoothies sound simple enough to whip up. Just toss a bunch of ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. But for busy folks, the modest act of curating ingredients, chopping produce, and cleaning up knives and cutting boards is too much to handle during busy mornings.
Enter make-ahead smoothies, which require a little meal-prep preplanning. Most smoothie ingredients freeze beautifully, and using frozen ingredients may even make your concoction a bit more enjoyable to sip thanks to the resulting iciness.
In freezer-safe containers or bags, portion out ingredients like sliced banana, berries, spinach, kale and whichever ingredients you want in your breakfast into each one. This will allow you to pour your bag of ingredients into your blender with no extra thought or effort.
Before you are ready to blend, add 1 cup of liquid and some ice to the blender drum. Then simply blend for 30 seconds and you have a smoothie that is ready to sip in the car on your way to work or the gym.
When making smoothies, make sure to include a source of protein to promote satiety — otherwise, you may experience a sugar spike shortly after you sip. A protein powder, a scoop of natural nut butter or some no-sugar-added Greek yogurt are all great options.
4. Overnight slow-cooker oatmeal
On cooler mornings, nothing is better than having a bowl of cozy oatmeal waiting for you when you wake up. Yes, you can nuke a bowl of microwavable oatmeal, but slow-cooked steel-cut oats can taste so much more satisfying. Plus, depending on the brand you choose, steel-cut oats may have more protein and fiber versus other oat varieties — giving this dish some extra satiating staying power.
Unfortunately, steel-cut oats take 20 to 30 minutes to cook — hardly a perfect choice for busy mornings. Cooking them in the slow cooker overnight takes less than five minutes to do and makes for a super-quick breakfast that is good for you to boot.
Simply combine 4 cups of water with 1 cup of steel-cut oats in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low overnight for a hearty breakfast. And be sure to jazz up your oats with such spices as cinnamon and nutmeg, a dollop of nut butter or fresh berries.
Oats contain soluble and insoluble fiber, along with a slew of energy-supporting vitamins, to help sustain your undeniably busy morning.
5. Protein bar with fruit
There is no shame in snagging a protein bar and a piece of fresh fruit on your way out the door. As long as the bar you are choosing is low in added sugars and contains some healthy fats, protein and fiber, you should be good to go. And no matter which variety you choose (or feel free to make your own protein bars), the piece of fruit will fuel your body with important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to help you make it through your morning.
If you need a little extra nutrition in the morning, try washing this bar/fruit combo down with a glass of milk for even more protein along with a boost of bone-building calcium and vitamin D.