When preparing breakfast for my kids, I have three criteria: It shouldn’t cost a lot. It shouldn’t take me a long time to prepare. And it has to be healthy. It’s important to me that my kids start the morning off right and filling them up with something healthy helps them stay focused at school. It’s not really that challenging to get a decent breakfast on the table each morning. Here are my 13 penny-pinching, quick and healthy breakfast ideas for kids!
Well-Balanced and Easy Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Kids
I was shocked to hear from my older children how many of their peers skip breakfast. And then I remembered my own childhood – I do remember my mom making me pancakes for breakfast when I was in elementary school but once I hit junior high (and she was at work in the mornings), my brother and I were on our own. We often resorted to grab-and-go sugary breakfast pastries or a snack bag of dry cereal to eat in the car on the way to school! Yeah, not exactly healthy and after a hour or so at school, my stomach was burning with hunger. That sure made it hard to focus on my studies.
After going through a weight loss program that taught me how to keep my blood sugar levels steady I’ve learned the enormous benefits of a well-balanced meal. Without the proper balance of carbohydrates, fats, protein and fiber your meal will “burn off” quickly causing you to be hungry much quicker.
Kids need to have a decent breakfast so they can best concentrate at school. Serving a healthy breakfast doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. My tweens are able to prepare many of these themselves, though for the sake of speed I tend to put breakfast together quickly for everyone in the morning.
1. Prepare the Night Before
I totally understand the morning time crunch of getting kids out the door on time. There are 4 kids to get ready, with two of them starting school at 7:45 am. My kids wake 1 hour before we have to be out the door. This allows them time to get dressed, make their beds, sit at the breakfast table for a meal, brush teeth & hair and get in the car. My older kids are also able to unload and reload the dishwasher.
The kids do all their prepping the evening before, including making sure their school tablets are charged, their homework is in the backpack, their outfit is chosen and their shoes are ready to put on. There are no morning scrambles to find any missing items because they’ve prepped for their school day the night before (PS. None of my kids have ever been late to school). Read more about how I streamline the morning routine here!
Breakfasts to Make the Night Before
There are some breakfasts that can be prepared the night before. Round out the carbs in the morning with cut fruit and a glass of milk (we drink both cow and almond milk at home). Kids can just grab a few ready-made items and start eating.
- Homemade Baked Goods – If you make your own baked goods, at least you’ll be able to control ingredients and sugar levels versus store-bought products. For baked goods I like using whole wheat flour instead of white. I like Wheat Montana Prairie Gold 100% Whole Wheat Flour. It’s not pricey and it has a smooth taste and texture so I easily sub it in for white flour in all my baked goods.
- Whole Wheat Baked Doughnuts – Baked doughnuts are easy to make and if you sub in whole wheat flour they’re an even healthier option. I melted semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave and dipped the doughnuts in just for a special treat.
- Yogurt Parfaits – Into glasses or custard dishes, layer plain or vanilla flavored yogurt with cut fruit or berries, dry oats or granola and chia seeds.
- Fruit Salad – Chop up all those ripe and ready fruits into a colorful fruit salad that can chill overnight in the fridge.
- Muffins – Use healthier ingredients like whole wheat flour, applesauce/mashed bananas/honey instead of white sugar and include chopped fruits, nuts and grains.
2. Budget-Friendly Foods
I have two teens, a preschooler and a toddler. When they want scrambled eggs, I cringe a bit, knowing that I’ll be using half the carton and eggs aren’t cheap. I want my kids to eat a healthy wholesome breakfast but they don’t need to eat a full plate of eggs. Instead I’ll give them a smaller amount of eggs, topped with cheese and salsa and served with beans and a whole wheat tortilla. Or try these ideas:
- Omelettes with leftovers – Have some leftover veggies from dinner the night before? Don’t let them go to waste – Fold them into the center of an omelette and sprinkle with a bit of cheese. Sauteed mushrooms, squash or steamed broccoli are favorites of my kids.
- Oatmeal – Can’t get more basic for breakfast than a warm, bubbling pot of hearty oats! So cheap and you can dress it up nicely. I love chopped apple, lots of cinnamon, walnuts and a sprinkle of brown sugar.
- Whole Wheat Pancakes – Pancakes are super simple to make from scratch and truly take only a few ingredients. Use whole wheat flour and toss some blueberries into the batter. Or top them with chopped bananas and walnuts (my favorite way to eat them!) A drizzle of pure maple syrup tops them off.
- Egg Sandwich – One egg per kid is all you need. Make it fried, sunny-side up or scrambled and place it on a toasted English muffin half or a bagel. Layer a slice of cheese and some spinach leaves and this is a filling breakfast that is way healthier than the fast-food variety (and takes less time than going through the drive-thru!)
- Smoothies –When your fresh fruits and greens start to turn, chop them up and freeze them for use later in a smoothie. Just lay them out on a parchment covered cookie sheet and place into the freezer. Then take the frozen pieces and transfer them into zip close bags. Frozen pineapple or berries, a huge handful of frozen kale or spinach, almond milk and a dollop of Greek yogurt is a favorite to sip in the morning (and I promise, you won’t even taste the greens!)
3. Total Time-Crunch
Need to get out the door but the kids haven’t eaten yet. Toss these winning breakfasts together and they’ll be ready to eat within minutes.
- Frozen Pre-made Whole Wheat Waffles – Use a weekend day to prep breakfast for the following few weeks. By making your own whole wheat waffles you can control the ingredients and they’ll be just as convenient to pop into the toaster as the prepackaged variety. Sometimes I “make it fun” with a topping of whipped cream.
- Sprouted Grain Toast with Peanut Butter, Banana and Chia Seeds – Sprouted grain bread tastes wonderful after it’s been toasted and when you top it with peanut butter (no sugar variety, just nuts/salt/oil), banana slices and a sprinkling of chia seeds, it’s almost like dessert! My husband takes this one step further and drizzles his slice with honey!
- Greek Yogurt with Toppings – Another quickie to toss together with ready-to-go toppings! I like chopped banana, walnuts, a bit of agave and I’ve even been known to toss on a few dark chocolate chips
4. Picky-Eater Healthy Breakfast Ideas
I’m a reformed picky eater myself so I know all the tricks! It can be difficult to get any meal into your picky eater, let alone a decent breakfast. These are sure-to-please healthy breakfast ideas for kids, even the particular children! Be sure to check out more ideas on this post with Practical Tips for Feeding Picky Eaters.
- Coffee Cake with Swirled Jam- Say “cake” for breakfast and you’re speaking my love language! Make a coffee cake healthier by subbing in whole wheat flour, halving the sugar and swirling in no-sugar jam into the top of the batter before baking.
- Banana or Zucchini Bread – If your picky eater is off-put by the “specks” of banana, considering adding in bits of dark chocolate to hide the color. You can also hide the color of the zucchini in bread by making a puree of cooked blueberries and adding to the batter. I love this recipe for Disney’s Banana Bread and use coconut oil in place of butter and halve the sugar.
- Cold cereal with berries – Pre-boxed cereals don’t have to contain a boatload of sugar. Tossing in fresh berries will help sweeten them up. Check out this list of best and worst boxed cereals at 100 Days of Real Food. The book 100 Days of Real Food – Easy Wholesome Recipes is a wonderful guide to eating more wholesome foods.