You may have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but have you ever wondered why that is?
“Breakfast helps us to set up our circadian rhythm for the day and allows us to eat while our body is primed for digestion, which is earlier in the day,” says Tara Allen, RN, and certified health coach, nutritionist, and personal trainer. “Skipping breakfast can work for some people when they are really in tune with their bodies and how to properly nourish themselves for their goals. However, sometimes it can set people up for blood sugar crashes, cravings, hangry feelings, and overeating later in the day.”
The problem is, few of us have enough extra time in the morning to whip up a filling breakfast beyond pouring a bowl of cereal or grabbing a container of yogurt. Pancakes? Please.
One solution is to prep your breakfasts ahead of time, much like you might your lunch — especially if you’re trying to be healthy, so you’re not tempted to grab a muffin on-the-go. Here are five recipes that will take little time to assemble in the evening, but offer big nutritional payoff come morning!
Peanut Butter Banana Overnight Oats
This breakfast from Fit Foodie Finds takes just five minutes. Seriously, who doesn’t have five minutes? Simply mash half a banana in a bowl then add creamy peanut butter, nonfat plain Greek yogurt, unsweetened almond milk, honey, and a dash of vanilla extract. Next, fold in your dry ingredients: oats, chia seeds (optional), and cinnamon. Stir until mixed and let sit overnight in the fridge. When you’re ready to eat the next morning, scoop a serving into a bowl then top with anything from more peanut butter, sliced bananas, and chia seeds to crushed nuts or berries. If you or the kids are running late, pack your oats in a portable container and eat on-the-go or at work. It tastes rich but is only 370 calories without the toppings.
Cheesy Egg White Veggie Breakfast Muffins
Sometimes you want to pair that cup of coffee with something super-comforting and savory. But lugging out a pan to crack and scrambling eggs is just too much work, especially if you're in a hurry. Instead, try this recipe from Ambitious Kitchen which delivers the same cheesy goodness without having to dirty a dish in the morning.
Just grab a 12-cup muffin tin, drop in chopped veggies like bell peppers, asparagus, mushrooms, spinach, or zucchini (seriously whatever you like works here), a little shredded cheese, and scrambled eggs whites, then bake for 20-30 minutes. Let cool and store. When you’re ready to eat one (get this, each is only 60 calories), pop it in the microwave or toaster oven then eat on its own or place between two sides of an English muffin for a quick and filling breakfast sandwich.
Healthy Banana Bread
If you’re guilty of letting your bananas sit until they are barely recognizable, here is a great way to salvage them, and save time making breakfast in the morning. This recipe from Cookie and Kate calls for whole wheat flour, which adds filling fiber, and is sweetened with maple syrup and honey (and super-ripe bananas), nixing the need for processed sugar. You’ll also use heart-healthy oil instead of butter, or applesauce if you’re looking to cut back on your fat intake. Bake in the oven for just under an hour and let cool before removing from the loaf pan. You can store at room temperature for up to three days, or in the fridge for a week. It also freezes well for three months. Each slice is 233 calories.
Frozen Breakfast Burritos
No time to sit before heading out the door in the am? Make this recipe from A Sweet Pea Chef your go-to breakfast for the whole family. These 350-calorie burritos are assembled and wrapped individually in tin foil, all you have to do is pop them in the oven to reheat then toss in your bag or your kids’ backpacks.
It takes just three steps: First, roast a pan of diced veggies of your choosing, though potatoes, peppers and onions work especially well. While they are in the oven, scramble cheesy eggs in a skillet and let cool. Then place a 12-inch whole-wheat tortilla over a square piece of tin foil, scoop a spoonful of veggies on top, followed by a spoonful of eggs before rolling into a burrito and wrapping with the foil. You might opt to add bacon or salsa. Once rolled, place in the freezer and store for up to three months. To reheat, place in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes at 350.
Balanced Breakfast Jars
If you’re an egg person but aren't a huge Mexican fan, take a page out of Fed and Fit’s playbook and prepare these grab-and-go jars ahead of time. Each 32-ounce mason jar is layered with a savory and nutrient-packed combo of roasted sweet potatoes, lemony kale (just sauté until wilted then add lemon juice and salt), and a peeled soft-boiled egg. To reheat, remove the egg, then microwave the veggies for 45 seconds before putting the egg back in and reheating for another 15 seconds. The heat from the vegetables will warm the egg without cooking the yolk. Each jar is packed with 8 grams of protein and will set you back only 231 calories.