Breakfast: Fuel Your Day! Back »

Written by Misty Hildenbrand under the direction and review of Ann Schwader.

Breakfast is the most commonly missed meal of the day, and one of the most important meals for kids and teens. For many people, by morning, the last meal was 8-12 hours ago. Breakfast is a great way to start the day by giving the body the energy it needs. Eating breakfast is another chance to load up on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Choose MyPlate, everything you eat and drink matters.

Breakfast & School Performance

Eating breakfast has been shown to help kids stay at a healthy weight and do better in school. Children who eat breakfast miss less school. While at school, they have better focus, problem-solving ability, and improved memory. Scores on math, reading, and standardized tests are higher after eating breakfast. In the classroom, kids who eat breakfast are better behaved and get along with other kids better. For kids who play sports afterschool, eating breakfast helps keep energy levels high and improves sport related skills.

Make Breakfast Part of Your Day!

Getting in the habit of eating breakfast everyday can be challenging. Start small by eating a mini-meal in the morning. Prepare breakfast the night before so that the food is ready to eat in the morning. Set the alarm 10 minutes earlier to allow time to eat. Many kids are not hungry in the morning. To increase morning hunger, avoid late night snacking and give them a few minutes to wake up in the morning. If kids are not hungry by the time they leave the house, many schools serve breakfast before class begins.

Ideas for Quick and Easy Breakfasts

  • Fruit, yogurt, and granola parfait. Grab a container of yogurt and add a piece of fruit and a handful of granola.
  • Hot cereal. Add a piece of fruit and a tablespoon of peanut butter for a balanced meal.
  • Cold cereal. Look for one that is made from whole grains, low in sugar, and high in fiber.
  • Whole wheat bagel or toast topped with protein. Mix up toppings by switching between low-fat cream cheese, peanut butter, and hummus.
  • Grab a pre-made granola bar or low-fat muffing. Enjoy either store bough or homemade.
  • Leftovers. Grab leftovers from last night’s dinner for an easy breakfast.

Try one of the following healthy breakfast recipes to fuel your day:

Overnight Oatmeal
Courtesy: What’s Cooking USDA Mixing Bowl


  • 1 cup dry oatmeal
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • ½ cup fresh or dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, or apricots)
  • ¼ cup walnuts, light chopped (or pecans)


  1. Put all ingredients in a cooking pot and cover. Let sit overnight in refrigerator.
  2. In the morning, put on a stove burner and cook on medium heat until simmering, then turn on low and heat for 10-15 minutes, more or less depending on type of oats, quick (5 minutes), regular, or steel cut.
  3. Serve warm with a little milk (or milk alternative), a drizzle of maple syrup, and a side of fresh fruit, if desired.

Nutrition Facts: Calories: 345, Carbohydrate: 54g, Fat: 13g, Protein: 8g, Sodium: 17mg, Fiber: 7g. Serves 2.

Make Ahead Mexican Rollups
Courtesy: Iowa State University Extension and Outreach


  • 1 can (15 ounces) beans (black, pinto, chili, etc.)
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 3 cups instant brown rice, cooked
  • 2 cups cheese (cheddar, Monterey jack, or hot pepper) shredded
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 8 (8 inch) whole wheat tortillas


  1. Place beans in a colander and rinse to reduce sodium. Transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Thaw frozen corn in microwave. Drin and add to bowl.
  3. Stir in rice, cheese, and salsa.
  4. Spoon ½ cup filling on each tortilla and roll up.
  5. Wrap each burrito tightly in plastic wrap. Freeze in a single later on a cookie sheet.
  6. Seal wrapped burritos in a freezer bag when they are frozen.
  7. To reheat frozen burritos: Remove the plastic wrap. Wrap burrito in a damp paper towel. Set microwave on medium power. Heat burrito for 3-4 minutes.

Nutrition Facts: Calories: 410. Carbohydrates: 58g, Fat: 14g, Protein: 17g, Sodium: 800mg, Fiber: 9g. Serves 8.

More Ideas

For more information on why breakfast is important, check out North Dakota State University Extension’s Food WI$E Fuel Your Empty Tank with Breakfast. Also, check out the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic’s Smart Nutrition Solutions for Busy Mornings.


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