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Five easy breakfasts to start the school day right

This article is Sponsored by Valley of the Sun United Way

You’ve probably heard the old adage “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” The origins of a healthy breakfast to prepare you for a successful day was a clever and timeless marketing initiative by General Foods in the early 1940s.

It turns out, the popular breakfast cereal producer was on to something. Studies have shown that children who eat a healthy breakfast succeed better in schools. But there is a disconnect across the state; Valley of the Sun United Way states that 1 in 4 kids in Maricopa County don’t know where their next meal will come from. If twenty-five percent of our classrooms are filled with hungry children, we are not setting up our future leaders for success.

The statistics speak for themselves. Children who live in food insecure households are 50 percent more likely to miss days of school. They are also twice as likely to be suspended. A hungry child in the classroom is often unable to focus, retain information and be engaged in their education. The long-term effects of a healthy breakfast go beyond just a morning routine.

Life can get busy, and as hard-working parents with a family to juggle, it can be challenging to provide a healthy breakfast every morning. We’ve compiled five easy and nutritious breakfast ideas to power up your morning and get your kids ready to fulfill their highest learning potential.

For the “I’m not a morning person” – Overnight Oats

If mornings have you groggy and out of sorts, this is the perfect breakfast. Take a few minutes to prepare everything the night before and enjoy a ready-made jar of oats that is transportable and delicious. 

This simple base of this breakfast starts with:

  • 1/2 a cup of rolled oats
  • 3/4-1 cup whole milk, almond milk or other milk substitution
  • 1 tsp. flax or chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup or other sweetener

Additional add on items such as apple, nuts, chocolate chips are always good options. More adventurous tastebuds may opt for Orange Tahini or Chocolate Strawberry oats by adding chopped strawberries and chocolate chips. 

For the “I’ve got a plan” person – Make-Ahead Breakfast Sandwich

Busy mornings don’t leave much time for a hot breakfast. But by prepping these freezer breakfast sandwiches before the week starts, you will be able to send the kids out with a warm meal in hand. You may even want to make a few extra for yourself!

Ingredients:

  • English Muffins
  • Eggs
  • Canadian bacon or ultra thick bacon
  • Sliced cheese
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly spray oven safe ramekin with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Crack egg into each ramekin.
  4. Beat each egg gently with a fork and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  5. Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake eggs for 12-14 minutes or until set.
  6. While eggs are baking, toast english muffins and gently warm slices of Canadian bacon in a nonstick pan. Skip this step if freezing breakfast sandwiches.
  7. Once eggs are cooked, assemble breakfast sandwiches. 

Pro Tips: Freezing and Reheating Breakfast Sandwiches:

If freezing, assemble breakfast sandwich by placing cheese on top of the first slice of english muffin, then Canadian bacon, then egg, then top with remaining english muffin. That way cheese won’t slide off of egg when reheating.

Freeze breakfast sandwiches for up to one month tightly wrapped in plastic wrap.
To reheat, remove plastic wrap and wrap breakfast sandwich in a paper towel.
Heat for about two minutes in the microwave, or until breakfast sandwich is heated through.

For the “my kid is a picky eater” person – Breakfast Banana Pops

Doesn’t a popsicle for breakfast make things more fun? Set out a DIY toppings station in the morning and let your picky eater choose exactly what goes on the   “nana-pop.” Keep the kids on board with new toppings every week, like freeze-dried fruit, flavored granola, or golden raisins.

Nana Pops Recipe

2 bananas makes 4 pops

Ingredients:

  • Bananas (Or try this idea with strawberries, pineapple, etc.)
  • Yogurt of choice
  • Granola of choice or crushed graham crackers
  • Add-on ideas: mini chocolate chips, coconut shreds, cinnamon sugar, raisins, etc.
  • Popsicle sticks or silverware to insert in the bananas

Instructions

Pour granola into a very shallow dish or plate. Peel bananas, cut in half and insert popsicle sticks. Dip into yogurt (or coat with a knife), then roll into granola and add-ons. Place on a parchment or wax-lined tray and freeze. Keep uneaten pops in the freezer.

For the “always on the go” person – Breakfast Roll-Ups

Tortillas are the ultimate vessel for all things “on-the-go.” Switching to a whole grain tortilla and adding a few chocolate chips for good measure makes this a perfect balance of fun, nutritious, and convenient.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Peanut butter
  • Whole wheat or regular flour tortillas (8 to 10 inches in diameter)
  • Honey
  • Small bananas, sliced
  • Cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips, if desired

For the “just add water” person – Easy Smoothie Packs

You don’t have to be a culinary wizard first thing in the morning. Keep a few pre-made smoothie packs in your freezer that you can throw together in the blender. You might even be able to sneak in a few veggies if you’re feeling adventurous.  Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Ingredients:

  • Spinach
  • Banana
  • Greek yogurt, plain
  • Mango cubes, frozen
  • Pineapple, frozen
  • Strawberries, frozen, unsweetened
  • Juice/ water / milk

In a zip-top sandwich bag, add the spinach, banana pieces, frozen yogurt cubes and mixed frozen fruit. Squeeze out the air and zip the bag shut. Place in freezer. Repeat for additional packs.

Instructions

Pour 1 to 1; 1/4 cup water, milk or juice in a blender. Add one frozen smoothie pack and blend until smooth, adding extra water or milk if desired to preferred consistency.

Pro Tip: The night before you plan to assemble the smoothie packs put plain, non-fat Greek yogurt in a sandwich bag, cut off the tip, and squeeze it into an ice cube tray to freeze.

With a few easy recipes in hand, you can make sure your child goes to school energized and ready to learn.

For classmates that don’t have home support for a good breakfast, Valley of the Sun United Way is working to #UniteAgainstHunger, to end hunger in the classroom. Listen below to hear Jim Sharpe, Jayme West and President and CEO of the Valley of the Sun United Way Chapter, Merl Waschler, on why the Weekend Backpack Program is crucial to hungry kids in the classroom.

If you are inspired to help make a difference for kids who don’t have enough to eat, you can learn more about Breakfast In The Classroom, and other #UniteAgainstHunger community initiatives (like Weekend Hunger Backpacks) by Valley of the Sun United Way.