Easy Ideas for a Fast, Nutritious Breakfast

Make time for the day’s most important meal with our plan-ahead tips. Try these quick breakfast recipes for hours of energy.

Woman drinking a green breakfast smoothie

by NEA Member Benefits

You probably don’t need to be sold on the benefits of breakfast. As an educator, you know it helps your students succeed in the classroom.

Breakfast is just as important for you, and for all the same reasons. In the short-term, breakfast boosts your concentration for the morning.

In the long-term, it helps you manage your weight. In fact, if you’re trying to drop a few pounds, skipping breakfast to “save calories” is the last thing you want to do. Research finds that breakfast-skippers tend to consume more calories overall. Skipping breakfast also boosts your diabetes risk.

But good intentions often bump up against reality, and a crack-of-dawn start may mean breakfast gets lost in the morning time crunch. Try these strategies to make sure you don’t miss the day’s most important meal:

Stock up

The key to making sure you don’t skip breakfast is to stock the fridge and pantry with a range of fast, tasty options. A smart breakfast includes some lean protein, complex carbs and a little heart-healthy fat—a combo that will rev you up and keep you satisfied until lunchtime.

Try these options:

  • Eggs. These are a quick-cooking breakfast classic that’s a good choice for lean protein. And hard-cooked eggs are the ultimate breakfast-food-to-go.
  • Frozen, whole-grain waffles. These can go straight from the freezer into the toaster oven. Add a schmear of peanut butter and some sliced banana or strawberries, and you’ve got breakfast.
  • Nut butter. Peanut butter and almond butter are packed with protein, fiber and heart-healthy fat. Choose no-salt-added varieties if you’re keeping an eye on sodium.
  • Hummus. You can grab a tub of this Middle Eastern chickpea dip in any supermarket. It’s a tasty change of pace on toast or bagels.
  • Low-fat plain Greek yogurt. This is a nutritional darling thanks to its high protein tally and rich, creamy texture. Top it with fruit and nuts or add it to a smoothie for super-speedy breakfast.
  • Old-fashioned rolled oats. This cholesterol-fighting superfood cooks in about 5 minutes on the stovetop and even faster in the microwave. Or try our no-cook version below.
  • Fresh seasonal fruit. Use it to top toast, yogurt or oatmeal. If local seasonal fruit is hard to come by in the winter, stock up on frozen fruit. It thaws quickly to stir into cereal or yogurt.

Go beyond “breakfast food”

If you’ve ever grabbed a slice of leftover pizza for breakfast, you’re on to something. Around much of the world, breakfast takes a savory turn. In Asia, it typically includes rice and some fish. And in Japan, that’s usually accompanied by longevity-boosting miso soup.

Elsewhere, fiber-rich beans and legumes are the main event at breakfast. Residents of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula start the day with a spicy mix of black beans and rice. In Egypt and parts of the Middle East, lentils are a breakfast staple.

And if you go the pizza-for-breakfast route, just make sure yours is on a whole-wheat crust, loaded with veggies and light on the cheese.

Try these 3 breakfasts to go

  • Overnight refrigerator oatmeal. Combine equal parts old-fashioned rolled oats, plain Greek yogurt and milk (use regular milk, soymilk, almond milk or coconut milk). Add a drizzle of honey or maple syrup and stir to combine. Add chopped seasonal fruit and nuts, if you like. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The yogurt and milk will soften the oatmeal in time for breakfast the next morning.
  • Super-green smoothie. Combine 2 cups baby spinach, 1 chopped apple, ½ cup unsweetened apple juice, ½ cup plain Greek yogurt and 1 teaspoon honey in a blender and puree. Add a cup of ice cubes and blend until smooth.
  • Breakfast eggwich. Whisk together 2 large eggs, 1 tablespoon milk and a pinch of salt and pepper in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH 1 minute or until eggs are set. Divide cooked eggs between two whole-wheat pita halves. Top each with 1 teaspoon grated Cheddar cheese and a dollop of your favorite bottled salsa.