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If you’ve been thinking about school lunches and snack ideas lately, chances are, breakfast is an afterthought. Yet whether you’re opting for homeschool, distance learning or the full, in-person model, you’ll need healthy breakfast ideas for kids.
I don’t know about you, but without a lot of time in the mornings, I often fall into a breakfast rut: oatmeal, toast and eggs. It’s easy for sure, but so boring!
The good news is that there are so many healthy, quick and easy breakfast ideas for kids that can help make your mornings stress-free whether you need to get your kids on the bus or on a Zoom call.
KIDS’ BREAKFAST THROUGH THE YEARS
As a child growing up in the ’80s, breakfast in our home usually consisted of cereal: Cheerios, Corn Flakes, Cinnamon Toast Crunch (still my favorite!), and Honey Bunches of Oats.
Today, so much has changed and although we want meals to be easy and fast, we also need healthy breakfast ideas for kids that are packed with protein, filled with fiber, and have plenty of vitamins and minerals.
Another thing that’s changed over the years is that because of our kids’ dietary restrictions, food allergies, food preferences and picky eating behaviors, we as moms have found ourselves focused on things like:
So despite all of the choices we have, we’re all short on time (and patience!) and can’t sift through all the options.
As a result, we tend to serve the same breakfasts day after day.
Nevertheless, the old adage, breakfast is the most important part of the day, still holds true today.
So busting through the boredom and having healthy breakfast ideas for kids you can put into rotation will help them thrive—and make your life a little easier.
BENEFITS OF A HEALTHY BREAKFAST FOR KIDS
Serving up a healthy breakfast daily can:
- Give kids the nutrition the need for healthy growth and development
- Provide the energy they need at school
- Help them stay alert and focused
- Prevent weight gain, childhood obesity, and type-2 diabetes
- Improve their mood and behavior
Kids who eat breakfast every day have a higher daily consumption of key nutrients such as folate, calcium, iron, and iodine than those who skip breakfast, according to an August 2017 study in the British Journal of Nutrition.
Lower risk of weight gain and childhood obesity
Research shows that children who miss the most important meal of the day are more likely to be overweight and obese.
According to a January/February 2020 systematic review and meta-analysis in the journal Obesity Research and Clinical Practice, skipping breakfast is associated with—and increases the risk of— weight gain and childhood obesity.
According to a March 2016 study in the journal Pediatric Obesity, kids who ate breakfast at school, even if they already had breakfast at home, were less likely to be overweight or obese than those who didn’t eat breakfast.
What’s more, a 2019 review article in the Journal of Atherosclerosis Prevention and Treatment found that the more frequently kids eat breakfast, the lower their risk for childhood obesity.
Although I don’t think we should encourage our children to eat two breakfasts, eating even a small, healthy breakfast can go a long way.
Lower risk of type-2 diabetes
According to a September 2014 study in the journal PLOS Medicine, 9 and 10-year-old children who reported regularly skipping breakfast had 26 percent higher levels of insulin in their blood after a fasting period and 26 percent higher levels of insulin resistance, a risk factor for type-2 diabetes, than children who ate breakfast every day.
Therefore, a healthy breakfast helps to balance your child’s blood sugar and give him a steady amount of energy until lunchtime.
Better mood, behavior and body image
You know the feeling when you’re hangry: you’re tired, irritable and on edge. And your kids are no different.
When kids skip breakfast, their energy and blood sugar levels dip, which affects their mood and behavior. If your kids are snappy with you, have frequent meltdowns, or seem cranky, try feeding them a healthy breakfast.
Just like family dinners, eating breakfast with your kids also has benefits. A February 2019 study in the journal Social Work In Public Health found teens who eat breakfast with their families have a stronger body image than those who skip the meal.
Improved academic performance
A healthy breakfast helps kids to stay focused and concentrate, but skipping it may affect their academic performance.
According to a November 2019 study in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, kids who said they rarely ate breakfast scored more than 10 points lower on standardized tests (a difference of nearly two grades), than their peers who at frequently ate breakfast.
Breakfast fuels kids’ bodies with the key nutrients they need to listen, learn, understand, complete tasks, and boost their overall function at school.
In fact, a June 2016 study in the journal Public Health Nutrition, which included 5,000 kids, found those who ate breakfast and those who ate a better quality breakfast, were twice as likely to do better in school than those who didn’t.
WHAT ARE HEALTHY BREAKFAST FOODS?
When it comes to healthy breakfast ideas for kids, there are some foods to focus on.
I know it sounds like a pipe dream, but the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend kids eat vegetables at every meal and snack.
Depending on your kids’ ages, they need between 1 and 3 cups of vegetables a day.
Serving vegetables at breakfast is actually a great opportunity to teach kids what a healthy meal looks like. And the more opportunities they have to eat vegetables, the more likely they will.
When kids eat vegetables at breakfast, they’ll get the nutrition they need for their growth and development and to help prevent serious health conditions as they get older.
Vegetables are also filled with fiber which will help them stay satiated and may prevent weight gain.
Fresh, whole fruit has plenty of vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber and water which kids not only need to thrive, but it promotes feelings of satiety and can prevent constipation.
Protein helps to build muscle, carry nutrients through the body, regulate hormones, and strengthen skin and bones.
Including protein-rich foods at breakfast staves off hunger, balances blood sugar, and can prevent weight gain.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 50 percent of the grains we eat be made up of whole grains, which are a great source of B vitamins, zinc, magnesium, and fiber.
Unlike white, refined grains, whole grains do a better job of satisfying hunger and balancing your kid’s blood sugar levels.
We now know that fats are not the villain they were made out to be for years. Healthy fats like those found in fish, avocado, and nuts are a vital source of energy for our kids and help satisfy their hunger.
Fats are essential for healthy cell membranes, they support kids’ brains and the growth and development of their nervous systems, and help their bodies absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K.
Fats are also necessary to make hormones and immune cells and they help regulate inflammation and metabolism.
HEALTHY BREAKFAST IDEAS FOR KIDS WITH EGGS
With nearly 30 grams of protein in one large egg, plus several key nutrients like potassium, vitamin D, B vitamins, lutein and omega-3 fatty acids, eggs are one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids.
1. Hard-boiled eggs
Boiling a batch of hard-boiled eggs in the beginning of the week is the ultimate time saver and ensures you’ll have a quick and healthy breakfast that’s also a great option when you’re rushing out the door in the morning.
Pair eggs with veggies, a fruit and a whole grain option and you’re set to start to the morning.
2. Egg muffin cups
The great thing about egg muffin cups is that you can make a batch and have a quick and easy option ready to go. You can also customize the egg muffins with leftover vegetables and your choice of meat and cheese—or none at all. Try this recipe: Veggie Egg Muffins
3. Frittata or quiche
Using eggs in a frittata or quiche is easy and a great way to serve vegetables for breakfast.
Try this recipe: Broccoli, Cheddar & Spinach Frittata.
4. Breakfast burrito
A breakfast burrito with eggs, veggies and beans is a great healthy breakfast to have on hand.
Beans are an excellent source of protein and fiber which will give your kids plenty of energy and brain power until lunch time. Also, the more often you serve them—at breakfast or at other meals—the more likely your kids will eat them.
Try putting out beans with their favorite extras: salsa, avocado, cheese, and a whole wheat tortilla and let them make their own breakfast burrito.
Related: 5 Reasons Your Kids Should Eat Beans
5. Eggs in a hole
Studies show kids love variety, and eggs in a hole—a piece of toast with a soft cooked egg in the middle—is the perfect way to switch up breakfast.
It’s so easy to do too: simply use a small, round cookie cutter to cut a hole in the center of the toast.
Then put a bit of butter, olive oil, or coconut oil in the frying pan. Crack the egg into the hole and cook the egg until it’s done.
If your kids don’t like sunny side up eggs, you can flip and cook the other side too.
6. Egg tacos
If you have leftover taco shells, add scrambled eggs, black beans, and salsa and you have a quick and easy breakfast.
7. Breakfast casserole or breakfast strata
When I can carve out the time, I love making breakfast the night before because it makes mornings so much easier.
A breakfast casserole, also known as a breakfast strata, is one of the best healthy breakfast ideas for kids.
All you have to do is combine bread, eggs and any ingredient you have on hand (vegetables, cheese, etc.) and pop it in the oven.
8. Hard-boiled egg pops
If your kids aren’t a fan of hard-boiled eggs, try serving them on a stick.
Hard-boiled egg pops couldn’t be more kid-friendly or easy.
Take a hard boiled egg, cut a small X in the larger end and insert a skewer or skinny bread stick.
Serve it plain, or top it with some ranch dressing and diced veggies—yum!
9. 2-Ingredient pancakes
When it comes to easy breakfast ideas for kids, it doesn’t get much better than 2-ingredient pancakes.
Combine one rip banana and two large eggs in your Vitamix or blender, add a bit of butter or oil to your skillet, pour the batter in and cook until done.
Add fresh fruit and a bit of maple syrup and you’ve got a breakfast your kids love.
10. Sweet potato breakfast boat
Instead of hash browns, make a baked sweet potato with eggs.
To save time, bake the sweet potato the night before.
Then in the morning, slice the potato open, create a well, and add an egg. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Then add diced vegetables, herbs or salt and pepper.
11. Baked avocado eggs
If your kids like avocado, make baked avocado eggs.
Place sliced avocado halves on a baking sheet, scoop out the middle and crack an egg into the center.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper, add your favorite toppings and bake for 15 minutes—so easy!
Related: How To Prepare Avocado
12. Egg breakfast sandwich
Toast a whole-grain English muffin, add a scrambled egg and some cheese.
Add tomato or a side of fruit, and you’ve got one of the best healthy breakfast ideas for kids.
HEALTHY & EASY BREAKFAST IDEAS FOR KIDS WITHOUT EGGS
Kids don’t like eggs? No problem. Here are several healthy breakfast ideas for kids without eggs.
13. Overnight oats
Cooking oatmeal in the morning takes time but putting together individual mason jars of overnight oats takes just a few minutes.
Start with rolled oats, and add milk, fruit, chia seeds or flaxseeds and you have a healthy and easy egg-free breakfast ready by the time your kids wake up in the morning.
14. Baked oatmeal
Baked oatmeal is my (and my kids’) new favorite way to serve up a healthy breakfast.
Instead of waiting for oatmeal to cook on the stovetop, you simply add your ingredients to a loaf pan, bake it the night before, and you have enough for a few days.
Try this recipe: Baked Oatmeal With Pumpkin and Bananas.
15. Healthy breakfast smoothies and smoothie bowls
I’m not a fan of pureeing vegetables and sneaking them into meals so kids will eat them, but when you make a green smoothie or a smoothie bowl, it’s no secret what they’re eating.
Smoothies are a great way to feed kids vegetables for breakfast and get several servings in at once.
A good rule of thumb when making smoothies or juices is to use 80 percent vegetables and 20 percent fruit. Add protein like your kid’s favorite nut or seed butter and serve with whole-grain toast.
Related: How To Make Smoothies For Kids
16. Yogurt parfait
Greek yogurt is an excellent source of calcium and protein and a parfait for breakfast couldn’t easier.
Since most yogurt brands have plenty of added sugar, stick with plain Greek yogurt and add fresh fruit like raspberries and low-sugar granola for extra fiber.
17. Avocado toast
Avocado is chock full of nutrition and high in fiber and healthy fats.
When it’s paired with whole-grain toast and vegetables and fruit, it also makes for a healthy and easy egg-free breakfast.
18. Protein bars
Grabbing a protein or breakfast bar is quick and simple, but most bars are high in sugar and contain artificial ingredients.
Read labels carefully and look for those with a decent amount of protein and fiber and those that are low in sugar.
Or, make your own breakfast bars with whole ingredients like oats, dried fruit, and nuts or seeds.
19. Breakfast pudding
Pumpkin is one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids so I was so excited when—after interviewing Danielle Walker of AgainstAllGrain.com—I discovered her delicious recipe for Paleo Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding.
If you’re trying to avoid gluten or simply looking for new breakfast options, try it out. My kids loved it and it was so quick and easy to make.
20. Mug cake
My daughter loves mug cakes, and with some healthy, upgraded ingredients, it can be a healthy breakfast option.
Most mug cake recipes call for flour, baking powder, milk, and oil but look for those that are low in sugar and use fruit as a natural sweetener instead.
Try this recipe for Blueberry Mug Cake.
21. Breakfast cookies
When your kids walk down the stairs and see cookies on the table, they’ll definitely be on board to eat breakfast.
Look for recipes that have plenty of fiber and protein with ingredients like chia seeds, flaxseeds, nuts, and/or nut butters and don’t call for added sugars.
22. Baked apples
My kids loved baked apples because they’re satisfying but feel like a treat at the same time.
Even better—you don’t even have to turn on your oven.
Simple slice an apple, sprinkle with cinnamon, and pop it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. Add Greek yogurt, peanut butter, or nuts/seeds and you have a healthy and quick breakfast option your kids will love.
23. Toast with nut butter and fresh fruit
It doesn’t get much easier than toast for breakfast and this is one kids can make themselves.
Add peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, pistachio butter, or sunflower seed butter, top with slices of banana or strawberries or mash raspberries or blackberries for a yummy breakfast.