When seeking to incorporate more nourishing foods and learning how to cook from scratch, one of the first places I recommend starting is with breakfast. I've noticed that I feel so much better when I have a hearty, protein-rich breakfast in the morning. In fact, while foods like homemade oatmeal, pancakes, or other "sweet" items can be a side, I've found that I have to have something like eggs, sausage, or bacon to avoid feeling cranky and nauseated. This has been a game changer for me. Eggs make me feel full and energized and keep me satisfied for a long time, in a way that cereal never did. (Of course, every body and person is different, so experiment and see what kinds of foods make you feel your best.)
Making breakfast every morning can seem a bit daunting if you are accustomed to ready-made microwave options or cereal. Try starting with preparing a hot breakfast once a week and work up from there. Some breakfast items can be prepped the night before to eliminate so much work in the morning. Others can be made once and last a few days, easily reheated.
Here is a list, with links included when applicable, of some of our favorites that we pull from as we make delicious, homemade breakfasts every morning for our family!
Oatmeal (we like to top it with fruit and fresh cream)
Scrambled Eggs/Fried Eggs with Sourdough Toast
Quiche or Breakfast Casserole (this one has so many variations possible, so I usually pick a recipe based more on my mood at the time)
English Muffins (add an egg, some cheese, and bacon or sausage, and you have your very own homemade McMuffin, just way more nutritious and yummy)
Granola with milk
Yogurt topped with fruit and granola
Sourdough Dutch Baby (really delicious topped with fruit and maple syrup)
Breakfast Burritos (tortillas, scrambled eggs, favorite cheese, meat, and/or potatoes if you want! these are great to freeze!)
Bagels with Cream Cheese (really yummy when topped with Everything But the Bagel Seasoning and bacon)
GF Coconut Flour Biscuits (these are really good with served with butter and strawberry jam alongside scrambled eggs)
Breakfast can also be a good time to use up leftovers. Making sure leftover food gets eaten and not tossed is a huge step in providing meals on a budget. Many items can be repurposed for breakfast in a way that makes them feel fresh and new!
Use up leftover mashed potatoes by making potato cakes and topping them with a fried egg and some stir fried vegetables
Use up leftover baked potatoes by cubing them and frying them (preferably in bacon grease) until crispy. These can be mixed with scrambled eggs, or used as a breakfast side dish.
Make a hash using leftover meat, potatoes, or vegetables. Eat by itself, in scrambled eggs, or as a breakfast side.
Cut leftover fried polenta into strips and bake at high heat or broil in the oven. The goal is to get them a bit sizzley and crispy. Dip into warmed maple syrup for homemade and gluten free "French toast sticks".
Use stale bread to make French toast and serve with a side of bacon or sausage.
Stir fry leftover meat (chicken, bacon, ground beef) and cubed potatoes together and stuff into halved, roasted bell peppers. Top with cheese and bake until melted. Add a fried egg on the top.
A quick note on recipes...I use them more as guidelines, and you should, too. These are some common ways I detour when using recipes.
We don't use vegetable oils, so anytime a recipe calls for that, I sub out my own fat of choice. Saved bacon grease/lard is usually good for breakfast foods, but I also will use butter or coconut oil, depending on the recipe.
Flavorings is another area I usually go off-trail. If a recipe doesn't call for cinnamon, I add it. If it does call for cinnamon, I add more. We love cinnamon. Maybe you hate cinnamon. Then omit it! Seasonings, herbs, and other such additions are completely able to be customized to your own taste. The more you cook, the more familiar you will become with what ingredients are used to create flavors that you love to eat.
I will swap out honey for maple syrup and vice versa, depending on my mood and what I'm making.
I usually add a sprinkle of granulated sugar to the top of baked goods. I know that's against the Healthy Crunchy Mom manifesto....so sue me. I love the way it looks, I love the way it tastes, and I love the golden brown crunch it adds (so I guess it IS crunchy, after all!).
While cooking breakfast from scratch can take more time than some of the ready-made, convenient alternatives, some of these recipes or ideas require barely longer than microwaving an egg and cheese Hot Pocket. And the more you are in the kitchen, the more efficient you will become. I can whip up a simple breakfast of fried eggs, toast, and fruit for five of us pretty quickly, while also unloading the dishwasher.
MOM TIP: My kids wake up just ravenous, and they don't really want to wait for the hot breakfast to be done. (Me-"It will be ready in ten minutes." Them-"I can't wait ten SECONDS, I am STARVING.") Maybe one day I'll be the mom that is up at 5:30am and has breakfast waiting for them, but right now, in a season with a two month old and lots of other things to juggle, that isn't realistic. I've been making some granola bars or breakfast "cookies" and, when they come out of their rooms at 7am, giving them that with a glass of milk. It's basically a mini breakfast and keeps them happy and content until I have time to make us a bigger meal, which usually happens between 8:30-9am. This has made our mornings SO much more relaxed. If you don't want to make anything extra, easy-to-grab fruit, like bananas and apples, some nuts, and cheese sticks on hand can help tide them over until a hot breakfast is ready.
I hope these ideas inspire you to put on a cozy robe, grab a mug of warm tea, and head to the kitchen to cook up a delicious breakfast tomorrow morning.
(For more recipes, meal inspo, and general homemaking how-to's (and even more how-to-nots), follow me on Instagram. I frequently show our week of meals and talk about food and kids and balancing the two.)