It’s a given that many of us have no time to cook in the mornings–we’re rushing out the door, grabbing a granola bar or driving to Starbucks right before school only to shovel a sugary croissant and a whipped mocha in our faces right before the bell rings and the teacher yells at us. Been there, done that. TRUST me, right when I walked into my science class with Greek yogurt in my hands, my teacher sent me out the door until I finished it. Should’ve seen that one coming!
Anyways, I’m back from winter break, and the majority of people I know are as well. Let’s just say that I’m kind of a rebel where I hide my food behind my desk and eat as discreetly as possible so that I don’t make a ruckus. The problem is that my appetite usually doesn’t peak until 8:30 or 9:00, hence why I am usually in a classroom by the time breakfast begins. I know that many teachers don’t like it, but I just find that sometimes you gotta eat, and you can’t let anyone stop you from doing it. All you have to do is pack your food accordingly to make sure that it doesn’t smell too pungent nor is it too messy. That meal of a crumbly donut and staining coffee, for instance, isn’t a good idea.
Down below are my personal tips on how to meal prep for breakfast, or to at least have more time in the morning if you do cook there and then. These have worked infinitely for me, and I am sure at least one will be of some use to you.
The night before…
- Look in the fridge. What do you see? Be sure to look for foods that you enjoy but will also give you plenty of energy to help you run around while cognitively thriving during the day, if that makes sense. Sweet potatoes, Greek yogurt, tofu, oatmeal, berries, eggs, and vegetables are my go-tos; I have so much energy after eating these foods and I don’t feel too heavy either. Leftovers are also wonderful to pack in the morning because everything is already prepared for you. Do whatever works best for you, and you’ll feel great in the morning.
- Find recipes. Preferably dorm-friendly and quick to prepare with limited ingredients that are easy to find. Bookmark them in a digital folder to have them on hand as well! I highly recommend smoothies, overnight oats, salads, or bulk recipes that will be described in the next tip.
- Cook in bulk. Have you heard of Sunday meal prep? Well, basically on Sundays, you literally spend the whole afternoon or so cooking all of your food for the week. It’s wonderful if you’re trying to get on track, prepping for a competition, or just being accountable for what you eat. For instance, you can make a tofu scramble for five, slow-cooker oatmeal, a giant curry, a huge bowl of fruit, or even some healthy pancake batter to make a ton of pancakes with and split them up.
- Don’t make things too complicated. Say you’re a die-hard student who has tons of extra-curriculars, leadership roles, AP/IBs, honors, etc. If you don’t know how to whip up an omelet in less than five minutes, I don’t suggest you doing that because you will always have to monitor the stove. Instead, you can set a timer and boil a bunch of eggs at once to take with you when you’re ready. Rather than cooking oatmeal on the stove, you can just leave it overnight to soak and microwave it for 1-2 minutes in the morning. Research some hacks to make sure that you don’t waste too much time.
- Pick recipes that work for you. Do you have less than five minutes to eat in between classes? You will probably do better on a smoothie, oatmeal, a soup or something that doesn’t require a lot of chewing. This also applies if you’re a really slow eater. If you have more time, then you have more options; if 20 minutes or more is not an option for you, then I do recommend making your foods easier to chew, such as mashing your sweet potatoes instead of keeping them whole.
- Pack everything in your lunchbox. If you have a bad habit of leaving stuff behind when in a pinch, just shove everything somewhere that you know you will die forgetting. For example, if you leave your lunchbox at home, you’re doomed. Just make sure there’s enough space for you to do so!
- Set an alarm. Or two. Or three. Or more…
The day of…
- Don’t put on makeup. It’s not like anyone is really going to care if you show up bare-faced at school, unless you come to school every day looking as heavily done as a Kardashian, then people may think you’re someone different! In all seriousness, if you do go to school early, you can save even more time by arriving to school so that you’re not late, eating breakfast, and then putting on makeup. I find that driving to school without makeup is much easier for my part because I can put it on with a fresh mind, knowing I won’t be late.
- Leave your backpack in your car. All you have to do is get out of bed, dress, get your lunchbox out of the fridge and drive to school! If you carpool, put it right by the door you leave.
- Use a microwave. Only if you have one at your home or your school, then you should heat up anything you have that would normally be eaten hot. Microwave time should generally be less than two minutes, preferably one or one and a half. If you don’t have one, then either stick to a recipe that tastes good cold or just….eat the food chilled.
- Find a good place and time to eat. I don’t recommend eating in a bathroom stall (Mean Girls moment) or in a crowded hallway. Class time should be the last resort, unless if you have a really easygoing teacher (or you can get away with it easily), you don’t chew very loudly, and you’re not a messy eater.
- Pack everything in your lunchbox or your backpack. If you have a bad habit of leaving stuff behind when in a pinch, just shove everything somewhere that you know you will die forgetting. For example, if you leave your backpack at home, you’re doomed. Just make sure there’s enough space for you to do so!
As you may notice, I always start my days with some source of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. I believe that people can thrive off of a high-fat-low-carb diet and a high-carb-low-fat diet, but they’re absolutely NOT for me. Keto? Nope, sweet potatoes. Ornish? Nope, almond butter. However, there are certain foods that I believe you should always implement in your breakfast because it’s the first meal, it will set you up for a great day ahead, get your hormones fired up and basically just fill your body with as many nutrients as possible. I like variety, so I’ve split my breakfasts up into several categories: eggs, pancakes, oatmeal, sweet potato dishes and lots more–pasta included. YUMMMM! Let’s get started!
- Marinara mushroom and mixed greens omelet with grapes, strawberries, a Japanese yam and peanut butter
- One of my favorites! I absolutely adore marinara sauce on eggs–sounds weird but it is so good you’ll be hooked! Don’t ever skip your fruit, either. They’re full of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals and sweet natural sugars to fuel your day!
- Wild arugula omelet and a side a butternut squash, quinoa n’ greens salad; grapes, strawberries, blueberries; peanut butter; 70% Lily’s dark chocolate (sweetened with Stevia!)
- I never, EVER skip greens. I always have them at least twice or even three times a day, and I actually highly recommend shoving them into your morning to get them over with. You can easily steam up some green vegetables to put into omelets or have them raw in salads and smoothies!
- One fried egg with pepper over a mixed greens butternut squash and quinoa salad with an arugula egg white omelet; strawberries, grapes and blueberries; peanut butter; dark chocolate
- Don’t fear ze yolks! I actually find them to be way more satiating than egg whites because of the fats and micronutrients that sustain your nutritional needs! I perform better, I think better, I just find that I feel awesome when I eat whole eggs. I do recommend getting pasture-raised, organic eggs whenever possible because of the horrible practices done onto chickens. At the very least, get cage free organic eggs because pasture-raised eggs are quite expensive. Somethings that I would love to try are quail eggs, which are said to look like mini dinosaur eggs but pack a bunch of healthy fats, protein and nutrients as well–they’re also much cleaner than chicken eggs!
- Butternut squash and mixed greens egg white omelet with black and white bean kale curry; a soft-boiled egg with Sriracha chili paste; peanut butter; strawberries and blueberries
- One of my FAVORITES! The yolk of the egg just melted in my mouth, the curry was flavorful and the egg whites and squash actually tasted pretty good together 😛 During this time I was really trying to get in a large variety of nutrients! I can definitely say that it is slightly lower in carbs, but I still get plenty from the berries, the beans and squash. This is better if you’re cutting, and to really intensify it, omit at least two carb sources. I don’t recommend that if you’re not cutting, however, because…food.
- Mixed greens egg white omelet with a butternut squash and quinoa arugula salad; peanut butter, a small apple, dark chocolate and Ezekiel sprouted grain cinnamon raisin toast
- Don’t fret that my fruit portions are minimal, because this season is quite cold and scarce in the fruit aisle for me. This is where I eat tons of whole grains and root vegetables–here I toasted a slice of Ezekiel cinnamon raisin bread (burnt the edges so that’s why they’re sliced off at the top) and spread the peanut butter on top once I took out the slice. It was good, but I personally prefer having it fresh out of the toaster rather than overnight.
- My Blueberry Muffin Top pancakes made from my favorite protein pancake mix–FlapJacked Buttermilk Protein Pancake mix–with PB2, blueberries and strawberries!
- I like adding apple cider vinegar, coconut flour, Stevia, vanilla bean powder and cinnamon into my pancake batter for extra thickness and sweetness. Coconut flour is a great way to add fiber and healthy fats–it’s also super absorbent, so you would need to add a higher amount of liquid than your typical flour:water ratio. You don’t even have to use this pancake mix. Feel free to use oat flour, coconut flour, buckwheat flour, or any healthy flour! 😀
- FlapJacked Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough pancakes with raspberries–also added coconut flour, vanilla bean powder and Stevia into the batter!
- This was plain but simply delicious! Don’t worry, I had more food with this–mainly grapes and blueberries with a piece of dark chocolate!
- FlapJacked dark chocolate pancakes with Evoke Foods muesli which has goji berries, blackberries and almond butter
- Best combo ever, right? Getting carbs from the oat flour, blackberries and muesli, healthy fats from the almond butter and goji berries, and protein from the whey in the batter. Really, what’s not to love?
- Chocolate carrot cake overnight oatmeal in an empty almond butter jar
- I am all about the chocolate and beta-carotene, baby. And almond butter all around it makes it even better. A good way to make sure that you eat healthily throughout the day is to have your cravings in the morning–healthified, of course! I love having cacao powder or dark chocolate and nut butters because they’re rich, satisfying, packed with the fats and flavors but also nutrient dense without the refined sugar.
- Pumpkin pie oatmeal
- What a better way to begin the fall season than with pumpkin and oatmeal? Okay, I know that this looks SUPER soupy, but trust me, it was sweet and delicious! Actually, as a matter of fact, adding more liquid to oatmeal makes it more filling and voluminous! But do take note and don’t add more than a cup and a half of water when making oatmeal so that your oats are fluffier XD
- Matcha mint zucchini oatmeal (with Greek yogurt layers)
- Zucchini…matcha….hah? I know, it sounds weird, but trust me, zucchini oats–often “zoats”–are super popular on social media and the foodie platform. Zucchinis add a lot of volume to oatmeal without adding lots of flavor, so you’ll be getting in tons of nutrients as an added bonus! Make sure to cook them well and shred them very finely unless you like chunky veggies in your oatmeal. Plus with matcha, a superfood that’s hot on the market, you’ll make yourself a super healthy breakfast that has a ton of awesome flavors.
- Chocolate cauliflower oatmeal
- Again, adding vegetables in oatmeal sounds cray-cray, but bear with me on this one. Cauliflower has this incredible ability to transform itself into an alternative for carby dishes, such as pizza, rice, oatmeal, potatoes, pancakes, breads and so much more. Pulse your cauliflower veeeeeeeeeery finely, steam or microwave it until very soft and add into your oatmeal! The softer they are, the less you’ll notice the cauliflower pieces!
- Strawberry Sweet Potato Pumpkin Cake
- I was totally wrong when I thought it was impossible to pack a one-ingredient cake on-the-go. Cashew butter too–why didn’t I think of that any sooner? Anyways, just mash a sweet potato, put it in a nut butter jar, mix some Greek yogurt, pumpkin and Stevia in a separate bowl and top the sweet potato with the goods! This is just one idea, but you can do anything!
- Sweet Potato PB&J Sandwich with unpictured Greek yogurt and Elli Quark and fruit
- Taken before my internship rather than class, but a sweet potato sandwich is a great portable breakfast! Make sure to keep it balanced by adding in some fats and protein (which I get from my peanut butter, Elli Quark and Greek yogurt that I had on the side!).
- Mashed sweet potato in an empty nut butter jar with strawberries and blueberries
- This is a great grain-free and gluten-free alternative if you don’t like oatmeal or can’t eat them! It doesn’t look like much, I know. But seriously, don’t knock it ’till ya try it.
- Smoked salmon on a cut sweet potato with Sriracha, strawberries and blueberries
- One of my simpler recipes, this is a great grain-free, Paleo, high protein and gluten free alternatives to smoked salmon on toast. I would have used avocado, but I didn’t have any, but use avocado to make it more similar to those classic salmon avo toast dishes. It still tasted absolutely amazing with the Sriracha, and the sweet potato adds a really nice flavor and texture that I think is even better than bread, plus it had a ton of nutrients as well.
- Sweet potato cereal (using Nature’s Path Sunrise Crunchy Vanilla cereal and Erewhon corn flakes) with Greek yogurt, strawberries and blueberries
- I don’t exactly recommend this breakfast idea if you’re a really slow and loud chewer. However, this is a great way to incorporate extra vegetables into your diet and a very interesting way to have sweet potatoes without making things too complicated!
- Simple Pitaya Smoothie
- Made with some vegan protein powder, half a pitaya, blueberries, raspberries and some ice! This was taken before I took my ACT–smoothies are absolutely wonderful for the hotter days! I just made sure to drink the top half quickly beforehand so that it wouldn’t overflow!
- Chocolate vegan protein fluff with strawberries, blueberries, nuts and more!
- I actually ate this the day before I went on my first juice cleanse! This tastes just like eating from a jar of frosting; it’s also a great alternative if you don’t like oatmeal, smoothies and cereal. Get a good protein powder brand that is thick, creamy and unprocessed, stir up a scoop in some water or plant milk and you’ve got protein fluff!
- ThinSlim sandwich with PB2, unsweetened berry preserves, and sliced yams!
- Sounds weird, but it is absolutely delicious. What I love about ThinSlim bread is that it’s soft, versatile, is diabetic friendly and is quite high in protein and fiber: 7 grams of protein and fiber per slice, making it 14 grams for a sandwich! Anyways, you can put anything in between the bread, but I just like sweet potatoes and PB&J 🙂
- Smoked salmon on plain ThinSlim bread with unpictured grapes, strawberries, and almond butter on the side
- Normally I don’t eat meat in the morning because I don’t crave anything super salty, but sometimes I love having a good savory meal. Smoked salmon is a very healthy and convenient source of protein and omega-3’s, and is extremely delicious on toast. I’d also have it with some avocado but I didn’t have any at the time 😦
- Leftover vegan edamame spaghetti with kale, mushrooms and red bell peppers, sweet potato and blueberries
- Did you know that pasta can be part of a complete breakfast? That is, if you cook a healthy type of pasta and pair it with a variety of veggies, fruits and protein, of course it can! My pasta was actually made completely out of organic edamame, so I didn’t need to add any meat. I also cooked half a sweet potato to have on the side and some blueberries for sweetness!
- Breakfast curry with quinoa, chickpeas, Sriracha, butternut squash and vegan chicken with black beans
- My love for Indian food is just so infinite that I would never EVER get sick of curry. You can basically put anything in curry, but I generally love using beans and a type of squash or sweet potato. Oh yes, and I love my food super spicy, so do add in that Sriracha!
- Strawberries and blueberries; chicken fajitas with tri-colored bell peppers; punpkin peanut butter; vegan Thai green curry; Chocolate Power O’s
- Super random combination, but also super balanced. You’re getting in tons of vegetables, protein, healthy carbs, fats, fiber, plus a lot of variety of flavors and spices coming from the fajitas and curry! Honestly, when in doubt, go for leftovers when packing breakfast and lunch because it takes less than a minute to pack in a serving of leftovers in a separate container on the go and you have to do no cooking at all!
- Strawberries, peanut butter, and half of my homemade healthy chocolate cake frosted with canned pumpkin mixed with cacao powder and Stevia
- Holy chocolate. I mean, could it get any better than having chocolate cake for breakfast? The recipe is scheduled to be posted in the beginning of February, so definitely stay tuned for that because you will LOVE it–it’s gluten free, high protein, vegetarian, and super fluffy and delicious! I highly recommend having your “craving” foods for breakfast because you’ll fulfill them by the end of the day, and you won’t want them as much late at night.
- Around 4 ounces of my 5-Minute Sriracha Mango Tofu, vegan Thai curry with LOTS of spinach, corn flakes, Chocolate Power O’s and dark chocolate
- This meal is a bit more complicated to eat because you have lots of texture going on but it still tasted heavenly. There’s the super firm tofu, spinach leaves, and of course, the cereal, but it still tasted amazing. This is perfect for the laid-back, easygoing teacher who doesn’t care about food. Not a friendly option for those who have a policy against eating in class!
- Vegan Thai breakfast curry; leftover Chinese steamed mixed vegetables and whitefish (doused in Sriracha of course!); peanut butter
- Again, very diverse in flavors–I guess more on the Asian side except the peanut butter?–and textures, so I wouldn’t recommend this if you have a limited amount of time to eat. That being said, this lunch is quick to pack the night before because it’s basically leftovers.
Hope you enjoyed this post and learned some new tips and ideas on what to make for your breakfast if you eat at school! I know that I’ve started sleeping in a bit, so eating at school does help for me to rush out the door right away so I can get to school on time. There are so many ways you can make healthy living work, but most importantly, quick and easy especially for those of you with busy schedules, such as workers or students like me!
What are your best tips for packing a healthy breakfast on-the-go? What are your best breakfast ideas?