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Family Meals: Breakfast

Today’s blog is part of a series I
started a few weeks ago – Staying On Top of Family Meals.
We’ve already looked at Planning Ahead and Cooking Ahead, and
now we’re getting down to the nuts and bolts of each meal,
starting with breakfast.

Breakfast was never a big deal to me until Maddie started school.
Suddenly we were on a time crunch and everyone was tired; I’d
rarely awakened the girls before school started, preferring to let
them sleep until they were ready to wake up. But school waits for
no child, so we had to adapt to a schedule. And since I’m a
big believer in breakfast (and you are too, RIGHT?) I knew I had to
get organized.

First and foremost, plan ahead. I know
I’ve said that several times, but it’s the single
biggest helper when meal time comes around and you’ve got to
serve up a nutritious meal in very little time. Make sure
you’ve got a well-stocked pantry and the battle’s
half-won. Having a wide variety of breakfast foods on hand will
greatly increase your odds that your child will pick one of those
foods and actually eat it. I’m not saying you need to run a
catering company – it’s good to limit the choices and
teach kids to pick what’s already on the menu, rather than
raising them to say, “Can the chef whip up a little something
with . . .” But offering three or four choices rather than
“which kind of cereal” will help avoid some breakfast

I’ve trained the girls to recognize the “breakfast
shelf” in the pantry: a whole lower row with all the dry
breakfast staples. There’s a shockingly long row of cereals
(I think I stock every single flavor that Kashi and Barbara’s
Natural Cereals and Cascadian Farms makes), and at the end of them
is the cream of wheat, oatmeal, and granola. Maddie and Cora will
toddle into the kitchen, open the cupboard, and usually choose
something to carry with them to the table. In the fridge,
I’ve always got milk, eggs, and yogurt and fruit for granola.
And lest you think kids don’t eat yogurt and granola, Cora
eats plain yogurt with granola and fruit for breakfast two or three
times a week.

If this doesn’t work, then I’ve still got options
because not only do I Plan Ahead, but I Cook Ahead. So I’ve
got French toast in the freezer ready to toss on the skillet, and
I’ve got mini quiches to pop in the microwave if
they’re in an eggs kind of mood. Sometimes I’ll agree
to scramble an egg if I’ve got time, but mostly they have to
choose from what I’ve already mentioned. And you know what?
They do.

I do have to confess I’ve got a couple secret weapons –
breakfast bars and breakfast cookies. Breakfast bars are my
homemade version of, well, breakfast bars. And breakfast cookies
are like a bowl of bran cereal in cookie form, with a liberal dose
of cinnamon as well. The girls love both, and if we’re
running late through no fault of their own I’ll let them
choose one of those to eat in the car. I’ve always got a
stash of both in the freezer for such “emergencies”,
and I can honestly say that my kids have not gone one day in their
lives without breakfast. I just don’t give them the option.

On the non-food side of the morning, I find it’s easier to
get them dressed and combed first, then plopped in a chair for the
remainder of the morning. Then there’s no worrying about
finishing quickly or hurrying up, and on those days when
we’re not heading anywhere specific the girls consider it a
luxury to eat in their pjs. And of course, the most important thing
to do to make sure you don’t miss breakfast: get up earlier.
I know, I’m sorry, but it must be said. Fifteen minutes makes
a difference, so get your mitts off the snooze button.

It’s the most important meal of the day, blah blah blah. You
know all this. Stock your pantry and your fridge, encourage the
kids to be part of the process, and you’ll find yourself
surmounting this daily hurdle without even breaking a sweat.


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