It may be the most important meal of the day, but creating the perfect breakfast menu can also be the most challenging. Nealy Fischer offers some expert advice on breakfast planning.
Eating a delicious breakfast first thing in the morning sounds like a great idea until you wake up and actually have to make it. Between getting the kids dressed and out the door for school, and running around to make yourself look and feel presentable, the mornings can get pretty hectic. As a result, many of us get overwhelmed and skimp on breakfast. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
By creating a weekly breakfast menu, you take the guesswork out of, “What should we eat?” at rush hour. You also tend to get more creative and versatile with morning meals when you plan ahead. I even like to print my breakfast menu, put it in a pretty frame, and display it in the kitchen for everyone in the house to see. Try it! I promise, it will transform your morning routine.
Before you begin creating your own menus, check out my top three success tips to make breakfast a breeze:
1) Think about your family’s lifestyle
Does everyone in your household need to get up and rush out the door first thing in the a.m.? If so, consider meals that you can cook in advance. Fill your menu with easy, on-the-go dishes that won’t make a big mess—like muffins, protein bars, parfaits, or mason jar meals. More of a smoothie kind of person? Set aside your fresh fruits, veggies, a blender, and a to-go cup before you shuffle off to bed. That way, in the morning, your meal will be ready in minutes.
If your family typically has time to sit down at the kitchen table and enjoy a meal together, you have a little more freedom to play with menu options. But it’s still a good idea to prepare your meals in advance. Pancakes on your menu? Mix the flour and set aside all other ingredients so preparing the batter is as easy as one, two, three. See a nourishing veggie hash scheduled for tomorrow morning? Slice your vegetables the night before so you don’t waste time in the morning.
2) Take a ‘healthified’ spin
A good breakfast shouldn’t weigh you down. Rather, it should leave you feeling energized and ready to take on the demanding day ahead. So when you’re creating your menu, think about how you will put a ‘healthified’ spin on each dish. Add vegetables whenever possible. You can slice and cook them as a side dish, or disguise them in a quiche, frittata or an omelet. Try incorporating protein powders and superfoods into your pancakes and smoothies. I keep hempseed, chia seeds, flax seeds, almond flour, and other staples in the freezer, so I can add boosts of nourishment into baked goods and comfort foods. Make sure your breakfast menu is diverse and incorporates cheat foods like muffins. Just make them better-for-you!
3) Be prepared to modify your plan
Every good plan is meant to be broken. Planning and structure somehow gives you the confidence and the freedom to change things up when life pulls you in different directions. Before you head off to the grocery store to stock up on all new ingredients, take a quick peek in your pantry, fridge, and freezer. Figure out creative ways to use up leftovers to save you time and money. For example, a plate of cauliflower ‘rice’ can be recast as a side dish for morning eggs; leftover veggies can be used to stuff a frittata. Use your menu as a default plan, but be prepared to veer from course when it makes sense to. The possibilities are endless; you just have to be flexible!
My sample menu
While yours may not look exactly like my mine, here was my breakfast menu a few years ago. It has changed a lot as my kids have grown, but it still sits on our kitchen table.
Grain Free Blueberry Pancakes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 9 pancakes
4 large eggs beaten
3 tablespoons organic coconut flour
1 large banana mashed
2 cups blueberries
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or 1 vanilla pod deseeded
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup blueberries
agave nectar honey or maple syrup (optional)
cashew butter optional
Put all the ingredients, except for the blueberries and coconut oil, into a bowl and blend together with a hand stick blender.
Add the blueberries to the pancake mixture and stir in.
Spray your non-stick frying pan with the oil and heat over a medium heat.
Once the oil is hot, take 3/4 ladle of the pancake mixture and pour into the pancake pan.
Cooking until golden brown on the underside (approximately one minute), then flip over and cook until golden brown on the other side (about 30 seconds).
Once you’ve cooked all nine pancakes, stack them back on top of each other in a set of 3 to warm through in the hot pan and flip over to warm the other side.
Serve warm with a drizzle of maple syrup and blueberries.
Tip: After you have poured in the pancake mixture, shake the pan gently to ensure the mixture is evenly spread. It’s hard to believe that you don’t need flour, milk or refined sugar to create a lovely, light and kid-approved pancake. Although delightful, don’t be expecting your run-of-the-mill carb-filled pancake. These have more of an eggy crepe-like texture, which is equally appealing. If you’re used to eating clean healthy foods, you will more than likely LOVE these. Low-calorie, high-protein, gluten-free and wheat-free…. what’s not to love? Not only do they make a quick and easy breakfast, but they’re also the perfect pre or post-workout fuel, you can even add your favourite protein powder
Nealy Fischer is a wife, mother, globe-trotter and lover of a good home cooked meal. She is founder of The Flexible Chef – a wellness, food, and lifestyle brand that provides tools to live a masterful life on one’s own terms. Need more breakfast ideas? She has a ridiculous amount of sunrise recipes on her blog.