By Tracy Grossmann
If I am being honest, breakfast is often my hardest meal of the day to cook. Cooking breakfast, at some level, is admitting that the day has actually begun, and I am responsible to be an Adult to participate. I know I need breakfast. I know that my family needs breakfast. My children need a good breakfast to think well during their studies, to nourish them after a long overnight fast.
My husband needs food with enough umph to get him through his morning, something that will stick with him and give him the energy he needs to push through until lunch. And yet, it is so hard some days to begin. Coffee, a notepad and pen, and quiet would constitute a lovely morning. And yet, as the mother of five bouncing children, the reality is that I am unlikely to have any of those things without making some breakfast plans so that the rest of my family can have their quiet wake-up time as well.
Depending on their ages, children can be a big help with breakfast. In fact, often all I need is a plan of attack and my kids can get a good head start on the process without me. But the idea is needed, whoever does the execution.
For this reason, I almost always try to figure out what I am planning on for breakfast before I go to bed at night. That way, when my seven-year-old greets me before my first sip of coffee with “Mom, what’s for breakfast?” I can answer with “We are having toast, would you like to start slicing up the bread?” rather than muffled, incoherent speech and weeping.
Here are a few ways that I simplify breakfast.
Simplify the Recipe
When it comes to cooking in the morning, a simple recipe is a must. It is hard for me to talk myself into looking up and executing a long, complicated recipe when I have just woken up. I worked on finding simpler versions of my go-to recipes, and played with the ones I had. The result is a group of recipes that are both easier to remember as well as delicious. You may need to add or subtract seasonings to fit your family’s tastes, but over time that becomes second nature. Taste and add as you go, and don’t be afraid to modify the recipes to fit.
Simplify the Schedule
There is no rule saying you have to actually make breakfast in the morning. You mix up muffins while you are finishing up dinner. You can make granola on Saturday morning and use it for the upcoming week. Make casseroles the night before to bake in the morning. Bake bread ahead of time and use it throughout the week in various ways. If there is ever a time to simplify the amount of effort given to a meal, I believe breakfast is it. Simplifying it down means that it might actually happen, and this is a great thing.
Simplify the Menu
There are a million recipes on Pinterest, and there are days to dive into those depths and make a goat-cheese-and-spinach-crepe, but that is not “most days” at my house. Most days, I need to feed many kids simple, easy to prepare food. Especially for breakfast, when we all would like to have mild, familiar food, there is no reason to go crazy here. A rotation is a wonderful way to stay out of ruts and keep your family from tiring over one thing over and over.
Enlist the Troops
I highly recommend teaching a child or two how to make a go-to breakfast meal. My kids are great at oatmeal and they are very quickly learning how to make muffins, too. What a life saver! They love it, and so do I. Many of the recipes in this book are easy enough to be beginner-cook friendly.
Traditionally, breakfast contains a protein, starch, and a fruit or berries. Of course this is just convention and not set in stone, and we should feel free to adjust our menus based on what we have available to us and what makes sense for our family. The protein helps to stabilize blood sugar levels, so we should try to add that in, if we can.
Unless it is a special occasion, there is no need to have an elaborate breakfast. Of course, all of these ideas all take a bit more effort than cold cereal, but they can be more economic, and have greater nutritional value, all while remaining reasonably easy to prepare.
Here’s to happy breakfasts and do-able mornings!