Healthy Breakfast Ideas Your Kids Will Love

Father and son having breakfast in kitchen

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In This Article

For many busy families, breakfast ends up rushed and on-the-go as kids and parents gobble up whatever's on-hand to 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

As tempting as it may be to grab a Pop-Tart, cereal bar, or other sugar-filled, but quick, breakfast choices (or to let the kid who says they're "not hungry" go with nothing), it's worth trying to plan a few extra minutes into your evening and morning routines to prepare a daily quick and healthy breakfast.

In fact, research confirms that eating a healthy breakfast is particularly important for school-age kids academically, physically, and emotionally.

Consistent consumption of quality, nutrient-rich breakfasts has been shown to enhance on-task learning, academic performance, and student behavior. Ideal "quality" breakfasts include a variety of food groups to provide adequate energy and stave off hunger.

"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 healthy first meal of the day before they start the school day or weekend activities, try these helpful tips and ideas for quick, easy, and nutritious breakfasts.

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. This is particularly useful advice because 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.

Use a Muffin Tin

A great way to visualize portion size 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.

Prepare the Night Before

As much as you can, make some breakfast items the night before. For example, you can boil some eggs, 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 healthy items from the following three food groups:

  • Whole grains, such as whole-wheat bagels, high-fiber cereals, whole-wheat tortillas, oatmeal, and whole-grain toast
  • Protein, such as eggs, lean turkey, tofu, beans, nuts, and lox
  • Fruit, such as berries, melons, apples, and bananas

Fast Breakfast Ideas

Try these combinations (and make more of your own) to create healthy and easy breakfast options. The best part is that many of these quick breakfasts can be made in minutes the night before to save time in the morning.

  • Mini whole-wheat bagel with nut butter and bananas
  • Greek yogurt with nuts, granola, and berries
  • 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
  • Whole-wheat English muffins with turkey and cheese with fruit and yogurt
  • Quesadilla with beans and cheese
  • Fruit kebabs
  • Homemade trail mix
  • Waffles with nut butter
  • Mini muffins
  • Raisin bread with cottage or ricotta cheese

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 healthy, portable, and simple to make. It's full of protein to keep your kids full until lunch and a snap to customize to taste as you can add in just about any veggies, cheese, or meats you like. This breakfast is also easy for little fingers to eat and freezes and microwaves 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 easy to make and nutritious. Even better, they take only 10 minutes to prepare.

Make them extra appealing by topping 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 with fruit and baking rather than cooking on the stovetop—eliminating the need to watch and stir it so you can focus on getting kids ready for school.

Whole grains make this recipe hearty and nutritious and 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. Even better, they're packed with fiber, Omega-3s, and fruit rather than sugar, making them healthy, yes, healthy doughnuts—without sacrificing on flavor.

Easy Sunday Morning Baked Eggs Recipe

Baked Eggs
Patsy Catsos

This simple baked eggs 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 bell or sweet peppers, 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 healthy breakfast, consider having your child eat lunch at school if that's available to them. 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 healthy breakfasts don't have to be fancy, elaborate, or homemade. Store-bought items are fine—just check the nutritional label so you know exactly what's in there. Also, a sampling of nuts, cheese, and fruit that's put together in seconds can be just as healthy and filling as a made-from-scratch frittata or lemon poppyseed bread.

The important thing is that your child gets a nutritious meal before school—so 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.