Back-to-school breakfast: Are you a short-order cook for the most important meal of the day?

You always hear that breakfast is the important meal of the day. I definitely believe that kids need to have full tummies to be able to concentrate and do their best at school.  However, there is often disagreement among siblings about what they want to eat in the morning and there isn’t much time to make multiple dishes.

My girls most of the time are happy eating either oatmeal or frozen waffles. Lilina wants the instant Quaker Dinosaur oatmeal, which is easy to make but pretty high in sugar. Rose is happy for me to make the 1-minute oats on the stovetop and then add her own flavors but that does add some time and is different than what Lilina wants. (Although it is healthier oatmeal.)

Walsh always wants eggs with some type of meat (soy or turkey sausage). However, they all like their eggs differently.

Rose likes well-done fried eggs. Walsh and Lilina like scrambled. But you don’t want to be making two sets of eggs on a school morning.

Walsh love those Jimmy Dean lite frozen breakfast sandwiches. They are easy, but the healthier ones are very expensive.

Often my go-to breakfast that they will most likely agree on is waffles with a side of yogurt or peanut butter or PB&J on wheat bread. They always have fresh fruit too.

For this week, I bought the thin bagels thinking that maybe I could do a quick egg sandwich for Walsh and a peanut butter or cream cheese bagel for Rose. At least part of it’s the same.  I also bought some easy frozen waffles and some Canadian bacon that I could heat up quickly and would be relatively healthy.  Lilina will probably still want her dinosaur oatmeal.

So how do you handle breakfast on school mornings? What do you try to get in them? Are you willing to make different things to make sure they get something nutritious in them or it’s just tough stuff and they need to eat whatever you are serving?

– Theresa Walsh Giarrusso, Momania on ajc.com. Follow me on Twitter @AJCMomania or on Facebook.

73 comments Add your comment

motherjanegoose

August 8th, 2011
4:47 am

My kids are/were not big breakfast eaters. Especially not that early. When they were small, I made sure they ate something…usually a pop tart and a glass of milk. We did eat waffles or bagels. Even peanut butter toast with a banana would work. We are not really cereal eaters. Once they hit MS, it was often Carnation Instant Breakfast. It is very hard to be excited about breakfast, to me, when you have to catch the bus at 6:30 for HS. I have never been a short order cook for any meal. Especially when I had to get out the door with them, to get to school myself. That is just me.

motherjanegoose

August 8th, 2011
5:16 am

HAPPY FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL…to those who are attending in Gwinnett County GA.
It seems like yesterday when I put mine on the bus for Kinder….14 and 19 years ago.
Thanks to all the wonderful teachers out there, you are the best!

mom of 3

August 8th, 2011
6:04 am

Never was a short order cook – my house my kitchen, until you are old enough to buy and cook what you wanted and then clean up afterwards, that was fine by me.
Breakfast was different things all 5 days and all 3 girls sat down to whatever it was….pancakes, muffins, oatmeal, sausage and egg biscuits, and on Fridays their absolute favorite even though not very heatlthy Pillsbury cinnamon rolls. NO – believe it or not TWG they didn’t get a choice. I miss mornings with my girls cherish each of them but don’t let them run them

Tad Jackson

August 8th, 2011
6:41 am

Try your best to have kids think of food as fuel … that the food they eat helps run all the parts, especially their brains!

Anyhow, I washed down my country breakfast as a kid and high schooler each morning with a glas of Tang. Anybody else a Tang drinker 30 to 40 years ago? My mother … God bless her! My sisters and I still rag her about it.

http://www.adixiediary.com

shaggy

August 8th, 2011
6:45 am

You know, my mom refused to be any kind of short order cook for breakfast or any other meal, for that matter. She cooked it. If you didn’t want it, you just went hungry. End of story. Lucky for me that I was an active kid and had an active appetite. A kid that is burning calories at a premium will eat what you feed them…guaranteed.

We practice it today as wisdom passed down. It stil works. Give it a try. Make that kid turn off the video game, turn off the TV, get off of the cell phone and run, jump, throw, scream their lungs out. Then, feed them what you want to feed them, not what THEY want.

Me

August 8th, 2011
7:52 am

Our 16-year-old has been preparing and eating his own breakfast for about 3 years now. As a general rule he has whole grain waffles and cereal but, once in a while, he will add either scrambled or fried eggs. Cooking his own breakfast was his idea and, provided he continues to be properly cautious, we’re content to allow him this.

homeschooler

August 8th, 2011
8:00 am

I tend to short order cook more for breakfast than any other meal. But only when it’s easy. I’ll make my son a waffle with p-nut butter and my daughter a bagel with cream cheese (she is allergic to p-nut butter). But if I make eggs, bacon and toast, everybody gets the same, eggs, bacon and toast. My problem is, if it’s early, they don’t eat much and it drives me crazy, b/c they want to eat again later. They have eaten so well this summer b/c they dont eat until 9:30 or so.
Not sure what I would do if I had to put them on a bus at 6:30 or 7:00 because I am very concerned about kids going to school without proper nutrition. Kids who are getting on a bus early in the morning and not going to eat until early or mid afternoon really need to be eating a lot of protein and complex carbs 1st thing. I don’t envy the parents trying to make that happen.
Personally, I went to school everyday on a Carnation breakfast bar (ugh!) And I certainly had my share of Tang. Never was able to eat sugared cereals and Pop Tarts because I would become hypoglycemic and very shakey later in the morning. I really can’t believe what our parents sent us to school on in the 70’s and 80’s. I have to say that this is one area parents are getting better about with proper education. And those who don’t care or don’t want to fool with it, can just let the government feed their kids breakfast everyday at school. (okay, that’s another topic).

Lori

August 8th, 2011
8:19 am

I wish I had the time for cooking breakfast. I remember my mom was always in the kitchen making our favorite breakfasts for us before school. I kind of feel bad that my son usually ends up with toast or Eggos or cereal, but I am also trying to get ready for work, so I don’t have time for scrambled eggs and biscuits or anything like that. He isn’t much of a morning eater anyway though, so even if I did cook a big meal, he wouldn’t eat but a few bites of it. I just make sure that whatever he eats, he gets a nice big glass of lowfat milk to go with it, that way he gets some extra protein, and milk fills you up for longer than water.

Football mom

August 8th, 2011
8:27 am

My 16 year old has weight training BEFORE school and takes a protein bar and a Muscle Milk to have between the shower and the first class. His favoriaite breakfast on off days…….cold pizza.

My grandmother, who lived in FLORDIA, use to alwas have Tang for breakfast. We thought it was funny to have “koolaid” for breakfast.

NikNak

August 8th, 2011
8:28 am

I don’t consider putting a pop-tart or bagel in the toaster making breakfast, so I guess my mom never made us breakfast. We were NOT morning people and we needed all the sleep we could get to function properly. This was usually at the expense of breakfast. We knew where the cereal and milk were and we could make our own. Sometimes she would hand us a banana on our way out the door. Otherwise, she would send us off with an extra 50 cents to buy breakfast at school.

Also, it seems like through most of school we were eating lunch around 11, so a big breakfast would have filled us up too much. Mom was always good about getting us a snack in the afternoon, though.

jarvis

August 8th, 2011
8:34 am

I used to drink occassionally before school on Fridays. Nothing like chugging a 6-pack outside the Waffle House at 6:30 AM.

TallMom

August 8th, 2011
8:52 am

My kids LOVE smoothies for breakfast. A cup of frozen fruit, a dollop of honey, milk (soy, almond or regular) maybe a cup of yogurt swirled in the blender…voila! A filling, healthy breakfast. Plenty of different ways to make them. Another favorite is a PB&J smoothie…I know, sounds strange, but the kids LOVE it…ice, banana, milk, PB, jelly and blend.

Jasmine

August 8th, 2011
9:02 am

I won’t act as a short order cook in the morning. I serve yogurt, fruit, and a starch that is ready in 3-4 minutes from the freezer. You can make pancakes, biscuits, etc on the weekend and then freeze in small batches so you can warm quickly on a school morning.
I suggest for Theresa-if you have to make two different eggs then make it in the evening and refrigerate. The kids will either not notice or become more willing to eat what you serve. I would find another oatmeal for the one who likes it with frosted sugar bombs. Tell her the store sold out.

motherjanegoose

August 8th, 2011
9:03 am

Oh yes, we had Tang. HAHA. We drank it often. Wasn’t it promoted for astronauts?

Which reminds me that from the time I was 10 or so, my Mom ( always a stay at home Mom) did NOT even get up with us as she proclaimed, ” I am tired of listening to you two girls bicker over what I try to fix for breakfast….fix your own.” Yes, we got ourselves up alone ( my sister was 7) and breakfast and out the door to get the bus In Chicago , several blocks away. Another chapter in the book MOTHERJANEGOOSE DOES NOT HAVE A PERFECT LIFE. HAHA!

I never understood how she was a stay at home Mom but really not a Mom at all…hmmmm. We cleaned the house, it was divided up and Mom had the master bedroom and bath. I think my sister had the baby’s room, who is now almost 40 and my own kid’s favorite ally!

@ Me…kudos to you…it is always good when kids can exhibit independence! My son did not cook much while in HS but he has learned how to do it. Maybe there is hope for him cleaning too :).
I started cooking most family dinners when I was 15 or so and knew how to cook most anything by the time I went to college. Even bread from scratch and a fresh blackberry pie with home made crust. Not now!

@Football…what time does yours have to be at school?

Amazed

August 8th, 2011
9:05 am

Last night I couldn’t sleep. I tossed, and I turned, all night – just as I have for months on end. The question burned inside me, raging like a wildfire as it has for so many months now. There was something missing in my life, an emptiness of a magnitude that few have ever truly experienced. As I lay awake bathed in a cold sweat, staring at the ceiling with bloodshot eyes, the unanswered question tortured me: “what do Theresa Walsh Giarrusso’s children like to eat for breakfast?” Suddenly, I felt a calling, almost divine in nature. I shambled down the hall and switched on my Dell, as if in a trance. My trembling fingers pecked out the URL for ajc.com, and with bleary eyes I stared at the screen, wondering why I had come to the site. But what is this? A new Momania article? My heart pounding with anticipation, I clicked the link; dare I hope? dare I dream? Yes! It is the answer to my prayers! Finally, the ageless anxiety and longing were dispelled. Of COURSE it would be turkey or soy sausage, how could I have ever even considered that Walsh would settle for mere pork? The more fool, I. And *dinosaur* oatmeal of all things… what a revelation, I had never even considered it. As my shaking hands scrolled down the page, I felt as if a massive weight had been lifted from my shoulders. My lips moved in silent prayer, fervently thanking God for using the AJC as his mouthpiece once again. The unimportant dross of the economy, local politics, and civil rights issues were swept away once again by that which is truly important. I have been freed from the shackles of oppression by what has been contained in this groundbreaking article. I am now drafting a letter to the Pulitzer committee – it is the least I can do to display my gratitude, and the least this article deserves.

RJ

August 8th, 2011
9:17 am

School breakfast…it works for me!

jarvis

August 8th, 2011
9:21 am

@Amazed, how long did it take to put together that drivle? That was an unnecessary amount of work to write an utterly unfunny string of self-promoting garbage. You aren’t half as smart as you think you are.

Very unimpressed.

Becky

August 8th, 2011
9:23 am

Like MJG, my two aren’t big breakfast eaters either..Sometimes they will eat the pancake sausage things that go in the microwave..They both love them..Or the boy will eat toaster stroodles(sp).. If we don’t have something at home, they like to get the chicken nuggets from Chik Fila..

@jarvis..That’s sorta like I was in high school..We would go out partying and I would usually get home in just enough time to shower, brush my teeth and go to school..Then I would sllep thru a couple of classes..

@TallMom..Actually that smoothie sounds pretty good..I’ve never put jelly in one, but the rest I have..I usually throw in strawberries or bluberries..

Sylvania

August 8th, 2011
9:25 am

Wow! Do you cook your kids whatever they want for supper, too? Stop being your kids’ best friend, and start being their mother. Sorry, but you dug this hole your in. Get some copies of John Rosemond’s Bill of Rights for Children and hang one in each of your kids’ rooms.

motherjanegoose

August 8th, 2011
9:34 am

Smoothies….great idea~ They now have cool individual personal blender where the top pops off to make a take away cup. My daughter has this and will hopefully use it at college. She is a good cook but I hope she remembers to eat something healthy each day. Hard to do when she is on the run for college and a job. She will be in an apartment and not on the meal plan, as it is not really practical when you live off campus ( her choice). All a part of growing up!

justmy2cents

August 8th, 2011
9:38 am

They eat whatever they are told. This is not Burger King, you do not get it your way.

DeltaWorker

August 8th, 2011
9:43 am

Nutella on a slice of bread – We had it this morning. Yummy :)
Banana, Frozen Waffles, Frozen Hashbrowns, Pop Tarts
Carnation Instant Breakfast – Going to have to try this one
Smoothies – Might do this tomorrow morning.

I can tell you all are an older generation if you’re mentioning TANG. Lol. Wow.

@Amazed. That was funny to me. Lol

@Sylvania, Bill of Rights for Children? I’ll have to look that up. Every parent is different with different parenting styles. I do agree you can’t be their friends though. You definitely have to love them as only a parent can. My 3 and 5 year olds are picky eaters. But if they aren’t happy with the menu, a glass of milk will fill them up. :) They are getting better and I do often cook something different for myself because I know they don’t eat everything I like.

motherjanegoose

August 8th, 2011
9:46 am

@ Delta…is the Nutella as healthy as they say it is. My daughter ( aged 19) laughs at the commercial and tells me, “right, you would never have allowed us to eat that!” She “discovered” it at college and can eat whatever she wants now!

motherjanegoose

August 8th, 2011
9:47 am

@ Delta…I am ancient…almost 52!

JoeV

August 8th, 2011
9:48 am

@Amazed

Brilliant. I was sitting here reading the blog and wondering, “why the heck do I care what you serve your kids for breakfast?”

Fred

August 8th, 2011
9:50 am

Theresa, you are a stay at home mom. Get up earlier and make them what they want. Your morning breakfast table should look like a Shoney’s buffet. Sheesh……….

Just kidding. I only have one and she NEVER knows what she wants, until 30 seconds before it’s time to go. Compounded to that is the fact that she doesn’t want breakfast until she’s been up a couple of hours. I can’t imagine dealing with three. We try to keep yogurts, fruit, and breakfast bars handy so she can eat on the way to the train station. That reminds me, I still have watermelon from the weekend. I should have fed her and mommy some of that before they went to the zoo this morning (school starts next week for us). But as someone mentioned earlier, they eat lunch around 11.

Tad; I drank tang. I made it myself though. My mom never got out of bed before noon I don’t think…….. If I wanted breakfast, I made it.

DeltaWorker

August 8th, 2011
9:52 am

@motherjanegoose it has mostly natural ingredients. There’s a hazelnut/coffee/cocoa flavor to it. My girls (soon to be 3 & 5) are very picky so the fact they like it is amazing. I’ve seen the commercials over and over. So it’s probably not ‘as healthy’ as they say but for active children with milk and/or a banana, I think it’s healthy enough to put on your morning list of things to serve. I did notice the calorie count was high but I’m pretty sure I spread less than the serving amount on their bread. I think it’s worth the try. Definitely on my list going forward.

genevieve

August 8th, 2011
9:53 am

Amazed: I spit my coffee on my keyboard as I read this. Hysterical! you made my day!

Fred

August 8th, 2011
9:54 am

I never understood how she was a stay at home Mom but really not a Mom at all…hmmmm.

We had the same mom. Well almost. I cleaned her room too. And most usually cooked for her.

DeltaWorker

August 8th, 2011
9:54 am

@motherjanegoose…yes ma’am. :) You’re around the age of my parents. Not ancient though. You’re just getting started. :)

motherjanegoose

August 8th, 2011
9:55 am

AH…Shoney’s…where are they? @Shaggy…your type of buffet :)?

Me

August 8th, 2011
9:58 am

@MJG — I’m afraid we have all but given up on the “maybe he will learn how to clean” part as it relates to ours!
However, on another “good” note, he actually prefers to do his own laundry – saying that we don’t fold his clothes correctly! Ha! More power to him!! He was shown how to separate the colors from the whites, etc. and then shown the settings and correct amount of detergent so, again, content to stay “hands off”! :)

DeltaWorker

August 8th, 2011
9:59 am

@RJ it worked for me. My mom was on her way to work as we got up to dress ourselves and walk to school or the bus stop. I’ve never been a banana eater (hate the smell) and didn’t want to cook because I’d have to clean the kitchen as well (mama didn’t play). My girls are so lucky…by comparison anyway. Lol

motherjanegoose

August 8th, 2011
10:02 am

Fred…I can always use another ally on this blog…can I count you in? I even like watermelon :)

motherjanegoose

August 8th, 2011
10:05 am

@ DeltaWorker…good to have you… I am a Gold Medallion :)

DeltaWorker

August 8th, 2011
10:09 am

@motherjanegoose love it!!! :)

Woody

August 8th, 2011
10:13 am

This just in:

In Atlanta Public Schools, 78 percent of students qualify for discounted lunch. Statewide, that number is about 56 percent, according to the Georgia Department of Education.

This either speaks to a government pandering to voters, or parents who won’t meet their most basic obligations. Sadly, it is probably both.

Denise

August 8th, 2011
10:16 am

When we left for school from my grandmother’s we had hot breakfast…oatmeal, grits, eggs, toast…whatever she cooked. That’s because we needed “something to stick to our ribs” LOL! I can’t remember Mama cooking. I remember getting to school early enough to eat breakfast at school, or if we didn’t, not eating hot breakfast. We at a lot of Pop Tarts on the way to the bus stop.

My mom had mental health problems that she battled but she also had the “yall can do it yourself” attitude too. When she and Daddy were having problems, to punish each other, neither would cook so the other wouldn’t have anything to eat. That meant neither my brother nor I would have anything to eat either. We ate a lot of eggs and bacon back then, until I got a driver’s license. After that we’d go get ourselves (and just ourselves) something to eat. We figured if they didn’t cook while they were at home all day they couldn’t possibly be hungry so we didn’t bring them anything.

motherjanegoose

August 8th, 2011
10:22 am

@ Woody…some here tell us that most anyone can fill out the paperwork for free or reduced lunches. It is encouraged and often abused by those who can then spend their money on the things they really “need”. I have never had kids on free or reduced so I cannot comment on the process.

My husband grew up on free lunch, while his Dad visited the liquor store and chain smoked. He made sure that would never happen with his children.

I am ALL about feeding kids who need food…just not about their parent’s expecting the rest of us to feed them forever while they enjoy the extras.

Ann

August 8th, 2011
10:26 am

@ DeltaWorker and @motherjanegoose – Sugar is the first ingredient on the Nutella ingredients list, meaning it has more sugar than anything else. Artifical flavor is the last ingredient. To call it healthy is a stretch. Nuts are healthy, but with too much added sugar, they are not. If you want a healthier pb sandwich, there are some delicious “all fruit”, with no added sugar, jams and jellies at Trader Joe’s and other stores with natural products. They taste as good as the jellies with added sugar, as they add grape or apple juice as a sweetener to the fruit in the jam.

motherjanegoose

August 8th, 2011
10:38 am

@ Ann but is it better than a bowl of Froot Loops…I do not know but ate more bowls than I care to count!

” The first ingredient is sugar! In fact, Froot Loops is 41% sugar by weight.”

DeltaWorker

August 8th, 2011
10:39 am

@Ann thanks for that. It’s yummy. But I’ll stop by Trader Joes to see what they have. Have to say the Trader Joes near me (Sandy Springs) hasn’t been the most pleasant experience. Their customer service is about as good as Kroger, which may be slightly better.

sp

August 8th, 2011
10:41 am

When my mother got off her late night job at Denny’s, she would meet me and my brother John (named after his absent father) at the bus stop with a bag of her leftovers. Sometimes it was the remnants of a Grand Slam or a Moons over My Hammy – and on really good days we’d have some t-bone steak.

She was a great mom – she would give us the bag with a huge toothless smile with a “Have a good day, hon” – and never removing the cigarette from her lips.

I was nicknamed “Denny” for a long time – They called my gay brother even worse names, but that all stopped when I went to High school, and sent my brother to that “rehab” camp. Memories I wouldn’t trade for the world..

abc

August 8th, 2011
10:41 am

You make them what you want them to eat, and if it doesn’t suit their refined palates, they go without. Don’t coddle them so much. You’ll raise up a bunch of sissies.

DeltaWorker

August 8th, 2011
10:42 am

@motherjanegoose my husband is a cereal fanatic, because it’s easy. Lol. And that crazy to me because he always text me his stomach is going crazy after breakfast. Really? Hahaha. But his mother likes to fill us with cereal when we visit her. I always go to the store and cook breakfast. One person can only eat so much cereal before getting a headache and it’s so not filling to me. I’ll keep my nutella on the list but I’ll take @Ann’s suggestions and see if there’s something more desireable. :)

I Love Life Cereal

August 8th, 2011
10:55 am

Amazed, that was hilarious! Thanks, you made my day better. :)

Cammi317

August 8th, 2011
11:06 am

My 8th grader grabbed a Kashi Protein Bar and a glass of milk this morning. She is not a big breakfast eater, she is more of a late day eater (something we are working on to try and reverse). During the winter months, I do get up and make her a hot breakfast (whatever I chose to make, NOT whatever she decides she wants), but during the warm monts she can grab cereal, a grapefruit, protein bar, yogurt or whatever is quick.

Cammi317

August 8th, 2011
11:10 am

@Deltaworker, try MaraNatha’s Dark Chocolate Almond Spread instead of Nutella. The ingredients, in order, are: Dry Roasted Almonds, Evaporated Cane Juice, Palm Oli, Cocoa Powder, Non-fat Dry Milk, Canola Oil, Soy Lecithin, Natural Vanilla Flavor and Salt. It’s very tasty and what I had on toast this morning when I got to the office.

DeltaWorker

August 8th, 2011
11:35 am

@Cammi317 I’ll try it. Thanks.

MomOf2Girls

August 8th, 2011
11:42 am

@Cammi317 – where can you find it? I’ve never heard of it, but just looked it up and it’s Kosher. Worth a try.