Healthy Breakfast Ideas Your Kids Will Love

Father and son having breakfast in kitchen

MoMo Productions / DigitalVision / Getty Images

In This Article

For many busy families, breakfast is rushed and on-the-go as kids and parents gobble up whatever's on-hand as they try to get to school and work on time. This sometimes results in breakfast being skipped entirely, which makes for grumbling tummies and wandering minds long before lunchtime.

Why It's Important

While quick, packaged breakfast choices are fast and easy, it's worth trying to plan a few extra minutes into your evening and morning routines to prepare a daily quick and healthy breakfast.

Marina Chaparro

Research shows that academic achievement is improved when kids eat breakfast.

— Marina Chaparro

It's also important to encourage kids who want to skip breakfast to have something to eat—even if it's not homemade or particularly nutrient-rich. Ideally, you want to combine convenience and nutrition.

Research confirms that eating breakfast is particularly important for school-age kids—academically, physically, and emotionally. Consistently eating a quality, nutrient-rich breakfast enhances a child's on-task learning, academic performance, and student behavior.

"Research shows that academic achievement is improved when kids eat breakfast," says Marina Chaparro, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition. "Their brains need fuel. They are metabolizing glucose at a higher rate. They are sleeping more. They are developing. Not eating breakfast means less power reserve in their brains."

In short, kids who eat breakfast do better in school. To make sure your kids are eating a nutrient-rich first meal of the day before they head off to school or their weekend activities, try these helpful tips and ideas for quick, easy, and nutritious breakfasts.

Ideal "quality" breakfasts include a variety of food groups that provide adequate energy and stave off hunger.

Smart Tips

Your best bet for making healthy breakfasts routine in your household is to plan ahead, wake up a few minutes early, and create a schedule (linked to your shopping list) so you know what you'll make and have ingredients on-hand. Here are some other great tips.

Get the Right Mix

A good way to remember what to include in a healthy breakfast is to be mindful of the phrase "three or more before you head out the door," says Toby Smithson, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and author of Diabetes Meal Planning and Nutrition for Dummies.

Smithson advises choosing one item each from the three food groups—protein, whole grain, and fruit—to create a healthy breakfast. (A good on-the-go breakfast would be string cheese, whole-wheat crackers, and an apple, for instance.)

Give Smaller Portions

Think quality, not quantity, says Smithson. Parents often don't realize that younger kids really don't need (and can be overwhelmed by) big portions.

Instead of expecting your first-grader to eat an entire piece of toast, a big helping of scrambled eggs, and an entire banana, for instance, give them a half-slice of toast, a few forkfuls of eggs, and a few slices of banana to nibble on. You can also serve the meal "family style" and allow them to take what they want.

Use a Muffin Tin

A great way to visualize the variety and amount a child might want is by filling up a muffin tin cup or reusable silicone muffin cups with cut up cheese, fruit, or other breakfast foods to have on-hand in kid-sized portions. Then, let them choose to eat what they want from the offerings, in the amount that's right for them.

Prepare the Night Before

As much as you can, make some breakfast items the night before. For example, you can boil some eggs, wash and slice fruit, make pumpkin bread, or prep oatmeal to serve the next morning.

Think Outside the (Breakfast) Box

Don't feel you need to limit your child to traditional breakfast foods for their first meal of the day. If they aren't excited about eggs and toast but love sandwiches, salads, tacos, or fried rice, there's no reason they shouldn't enjoy those meals for breakfast.

When thinking about what to serve your kids for breakfast, consider these nutrient-rich items from the following three food groups:

  • Whole grains, such as whole-wheat bagels, whole-grain cereals, whole-wheat tortillas, oatmeal, and whole-grain toast
  • Protein, such as eggs, meat and poultry, tofu, beans, nuts, and fish
  • Fruit, such as berries, melons, apples, and bananas (any fruit is great, including frozen)

Fast Breakfast Ideas

Try these combinations (and make more of your own) to create nutritious breakfast options that are delicious and fast. Many of these quick breakfasts can be made in minutes the night before to save time in the morning.

  • Egg burrito (scrambled eggs and cheese wrapped up in a tortilla shell that can be customized with just about anything, from chunks of sweet potato and avocado to shredded chicken) with fruit on the side
  • Fruit kebabs and yogurt
  • Greek yogurt with nuts, granola, and berries
  • Homemade trail mix
  • Mini muffins
  • Quesadilla with beans and cheese
  • Raisin bread with cottage or ricotta cheese
  • Waffles with nut butter
  • Whole-wheat bagel or toast with nut butter and bananas
  • Whole-wheat English muffins with turkey and cheese with fruit and yogurt

Recipes to Try

Below are a variety of kid-friendly breakfast options to try and hopefully find some new family favorites.

Spinach and Quinoa Breakfast Mini Quiche Recipe

Low-FODMAP quiches
Patsy Catsos, MS, RDN, LD

This yummy spinach and quinoa quiche is a simple and portable option that's full of protein to keep your kids full until lunch. It's also a snap to customize to taste as you can add in just about any veggies, cheese, or meats that you like. This breakfast is also easy for little fingers to eat and has the convenience factor of freezing and microwaving well.

Greek Yogurt Blender Pancakes

Greek Yogurt Pancakes
Kaleigh McMordie, MCN, RDN, LD

These delicious pancakes will be a hit with most kids. Plus, they're nutritious and easy to make—they take only 10 minutes to prepare.

Make them extra appealing by topping them with your child's favorite fruits, jam, syrup, and/or fold chocolate chips or berries into the batter.

Easy Pear Baked Oatmeal

Pear Baked Oatmeal
 Kaleigh McMordie

Put a twist on traditional oatmeal by topping this version with fruit and baking rather than cooking on the stovetop. This eliminates the need to watch and stir, meaning you can focus on getting kids ready for school.

Whole grains make this recipe hearty and nutritious. The sweetness of the pears (which can be swapped out for other fruit as desired) is likely to encourage your little ones to gobble it up.

Strawberry Sweet Potato Toast

strawberry sweet potato toast
Kaleigh McMordie, MCN, RDN, LD

This creative, nutrient-packed recipe uses slices of sweet potatoes in place of bread to create a filling and delicious take on toast. Pile on strawberries, Greek yogurt, and granola for an innovative taste sensation.

This one is also a snap to accommodate to any other toppings (such as other fruit, veggies, or nuts) your child prefers—and what you have on hand.

Banana Bread Doughnuts With Honeyed Yogurt Glaze

banana bread doughnuts with honeyed yogurt glaze
Leyla Shamayeva, MS, RD

Scrumptious banana bread doughnuts are a definite kid-pleaser. They're flavorful, fun to eat, and satisfying.

Easy Sunday Morning Baked Eggs Recipe

Baked Eggs
Patsy Catsos

This simple baked egg recipe is elevated with basil, cabbage, parmesan, and cherry tomatoes and comes together with just 5 minutes of prep. Kids can help make this simple dish, too.

Encourage them to experiment with other additions such as spinach, slices of a bell or sweet pepper, or other types of cheese like feta or cheddar.

Savory Spinach and Feta Oatmeal Bowl

Spinach and Feta Oatmeal Bowl
Kaleigh McMordie, MCN, RDN, LD

Kids get both eggs and oatmeal in this inspired recipe that also packs a savory punch with spinach and feta. This meal gives your kids ample protein, fiber, and veggies without the excess sugar that often comes with oatmeal.

Breakfast at School

If your family's morning rush just isn't conducive to making and sitting down for a meal before you head out, consider having your child eat breakfast at school if it's available. Many schools (public and private) offer breakfast, which is often offered free of charge or for a low-fee.

There is a well-earned stigma about the relative healthiness of school cafeteria meals but the quality and nutritional content have improved—and eating something is likely better than nothing.

A Word From Verywell

Remember that having something for breakfast is better than having nothing. A nutritious, tasty, and satisfying breakfast doesn't have to be fancy, elaborate, or homemade. Store-bought items are fine and necessary for many busy families.

A sampling of nuts, cheese, and fruit that's put together in seconds can be just as nutritious and filling as a made-from-scratch frittata or homemade muffins.

The important thing is that your child gets a meal before school. You can send them off with a full tummy knowing you've set them up for a great day of learning.

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Article Sources
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  1. Eck KM, Delaney CL, Clark RL, et al. The "Motor of the Day": Parent and School-Age Children's Cognitions, Barriers, and Supports for Breakfast. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019;16(18). doi:10.3390/ijerph16183238

  2. Adolphus K, Lawton CL, Dye L. The effects of breakfast on behavior and academic performance in children and adolescents. Front Hum Neurosci. 2013;7:425. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2013.00425

  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. School Breakfast Program. Reviewed January 26, 2017.