I absolutely love breakfast (partly because there is coffee involved). There is something so nice about starting off with a clean slate and taking a few minutes to prepare myself for the day ahead.
Eating breakfast is a healthy habit too – studies show that eating breakfast regularly can help you maintain a healthy weight.
For many college students, it’s easy to let breakfast slip. In the choice between a few extra minutes of sleep or food, sleep often wins out and I’ve noticed many of my friends running out the door without having eaten.
My favorite mornings are those where I don’t have class until 10 and can enjoy a slow, leisurely breakfast. It’s a few minutes of calm before a long day and I treasure it dearly.
However, there are plenty of mornings where I have to leave the house early – which, to be honest, I’m terrible at. Most mornings, I’m running out of the house at a dead sprint with one shoe on and my backpack half open, but I almost always make time for breakfast.
I’ve had my fair share of 8am class (even 7:30am for one awful quarter) and I’ve found a couple tricks to help get in a good breakfast and still leave the house on time (okay, almost on time).
Make it ahead of time
For my earliest mornings, I always try to have something ready the night before. I can eat at home if I have the time and in class if I don’t.
Oatmeal is an excellent food to prepare early. It’s a whole grain and has tons of fiber – perfect for keeping me full all morning long. My two favorite ways of doing this are to make a big batch at the beginning of the week or to make overnight oats.
If I’m feeling especially proactive, I’ll cook up a pot of steel cut oatmeal at the beginning of the week so all I have to do is microwave it and add toppings. It reheats beautifully and breakfast is done for the week.
Another favorite, overnight oats, have been popular on food blogs for quite some time now. The idea is that you soak the oats the night before and can either eat them hot or cold the next day. I usually use a ratio of 1 part oats to 2 parts liquid (I like almond or soy milk) as a backbone and add in things like:
- chia seeds
- flax seeds
- peanut butter
- sliced banana
- frozen berries
- grated apple
- dried fruit
- canned pumpkin
- spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, etc.)
- vanilla extract
- protein powder
- cocoa powder
If I’m adding in things with a lot of liquid (like yogurt or frozen fruit), I’ll add less milk when I’m making the oats – I can always add more in the morning to thin them out.
Just toss everything together in a bowl or jar, leave it covered in the fridge, and grab it in the morning. When you take it out, you can add more liquid if you like and either microwave the oats or just eat them cold.
I taught my parents how to make overnight oats a few years ago and my dad still makes them several times a week. It’s perfect for mornings when he goes to the gym before work – he makes the oats the night before, throws them in his gym bag, and eats them at work. He likes to include a scoop of protein powder in his oats, making them perfect for a post-workout breakfast.
In a pinch, I also try to keep energy bars around (either store-bought or homemade, like these Peanut Date Cookies). This way, when I hit snooze one time too many, I can grab something from the pantry and run out the door.
Make it filling
Don’t get me wrong, doughnuts are awesome (especially the vegan maple doughnuts that Whole Foods makes…SO GOOD). They have their time and place but when I need something to hold me over through four hours of lab, I want something a little more substantial for breakfast.
I’ve found three main ways to make sure my breakfast sticks through the morning and keeps my energy levels high.
- Make sure there are enough calories. A banana just isn’t going to cut it for me.
- Focus on fiber instead of simple sugars. Fiber is bulky. It takes up a lot of space, which makes you feel full longer. Simple sugars are absorbed quickly, causing a rapid spike in blood sugar and subsequent crash.
- Get some protein in there. It can be eggs, yogurt, cheese, meat, whatever – if my breakfast is all carbs, it won’t fill me up for long. Leftovers for breakfast are totally acceptable and often make this easier.
In addition to having a filling breakfast, I usually throw a snack in my bag just in case I get hungry before lunch. I figure it’s always better to have a snack and not need it than to be starving in the middle of class and not have any food.
For real breakfast dorks like me, there is also second breakfast (I was this close to making a joke about elevenses because even though I’m really not a Lord of the Rings fan, I’m all about eating seven meals a day). I usually save second breakfast for mornings when my first class is a little later in the day. I’ll wake up around 7 and have something small to eat, like a piece of toast, with my coffee. Then around 10, I eat something more substantial before leaving for class.
Keep it simple
Honestly, it’s a miracle I can do anything properly before my coffee kicks in. To combat this, I tend to have variations of the same thing for breakfast. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about variety but sometimes mornings aren’t the time to mess around with new things.
I totally understand that this isn’t for everyone but it works surprisingly well for me. I usually go through a breakfast phase for a few months and then move on. I make small variations (different bread, jam, veggies, etc.) to stop myself from getting bored.
Here are some of my favorites. They’re easy to throw together together and also easy to change up.
- Toast+hummus/avocado+sauteed veggies+egg+hot sauce
- Toast+peanut butter+pumpkin butter/jam+banana+cinnamon
- Yogurt+fruit+granola+nut butter
- Oatmeal+various toppings (see above)
What do you like to eat for breakfast?