How do you manage a good breakfast in the morning?
December 4, 2008 2:33 PM   Subscribe

I've been eating bagels or instant oatmeal at my desk for almost four years, and it needs to change. First, I'm tired of eating so many meals at my desk (breakfast, lunch almost every day, AND dinner on nights that I have graduate school!). But more importantly, I want something more substantial that's better for me and will keep me full longer than empty carbohydrates.

Part of the problem is that I'm afraid if I eat at home, I will be ravenous by the time lunch comes around. As it is right now, I eat at 9 a.m. and am hungry for lunch at 12, to the point of feeling faint by 12:30 or so. If I eat breakfast a full hour earlier, won't I be hungry for lunch that much earlier? Having a snack seems to defeat the purpose of eating breakfast at home.

I should say that I might not get enough protein in my diet in general--I'm just transitioning from being a vegetarian for my entire life to eating a little bit of meat (so far, only chicken and things that aren't exactly meat but aren't vegetarian either, like ramen, soups with chicken or beef stock, gelatin, etc). Suggestions for getting more protein are very welcome.

Mostly, though, I want to hear what you eat for breakfast and how (at home, at work, etc) and what you think I should eat.

Specific criteria:

1. Yogurt is 100% out in all shapes and forms. I can't even tolerate the smell of it. Same with cottage cheese.
2. I don't want to cook meat that looks like meat (so, turkey sausages would be ok, raw chicken not so much).
3. Cold cereal grosses me out--all that soggy stuff floating around in a pool of white liquid...
4. I cannot eat on my commute (packed subway). It's either at home or at work (where I do have access to a refrigerator and microwave, and for the most part, no problems with people stealing food out of the communcal fridge).
5. I'm looking for quick-fix, minimal-dishes-and-mess ideas rather than elaborate ideas. I'm going to have to start getting up earlier to eat breakfast at home; no point in making it more complicated than it needs to be.

Things I have already thought of: breakfast burritos (especially when prepared ahead in bulk, frozen and then heated in the microwave), minute oatmeal with honey and bananas, egg-and-cheese on toast/bagel/roll or egg-in-a-boat/hole/whatever you call it, etc.

What do you eat in the morning?
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty to Food & Drink (32 answers total) 59 users marked this as a favorite
Make omelettes or eat non-breakfast food in the morning, since you've ruled out a lot of the "classic" breakfast foods. Do you eat salmon? You can have lox.

Eat at home, where you have flexibility of options and cooking, and if that isn't going to tide you over until the lunch break, have a small snack - not a meal - a few hours in / a few hours before break. Nuts, a cup of soymilk, banana - these aren't things that are going to wreak havoc with your diet or weight or whatever.

I don't see why having a snack "defeats the purpose" of having breakfast. Few people that aren't over 65 can subsist on a timed three meals a day. Hypoglycemia, quick metabolism, lack of protein in a transitional diet -- all of these are not uncommon reasons that people nosh a little bit.

And load up on protein: you answered your own question there. A bagel is not doing much for you.

Although you're transitioning from your vegetable diet, I'd err on the side of including things into the diet, not out of it. You've listed a ton of rules up front, and that seems like it's part of the problem.
posted by softsantear at 2:46 PM on December 4, 2008

Best answer: The benefit of having breakfast at home is that you get to make it yourself -- not that it saves you time. If you pick the right foods, you'll find that they last you much longer through the day. Unfrotunately most of what are grouped as "breakfast foods" tend to be really high in sugar, and are not good for staying away / keeping up energy.

I tend to eat progressively - making big bowls of stuff for the week, which I then eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This might not be for you -- on the other hand, it makes breakfast a REALLY easy deal. Just grab what's in the fridge or combine whatever you've made for the week, heat it up, and eat.

Common things include:

1) Rice and eggs -- with lentils or black beans
3) Juice or fruit smoothie
3) Lately, a quinoa / tofu mix with soy sauce (lots of protein!)
4) Toast, jam, and fruit
5) Vegetable soup

The common theme being: dinner foods for breakfast are just as good, and MUCH more filling than bagels / muffins / toast (I love toast and peanut butter, which is why it's on my list.) Making a ton of breakfast burritos sounds like a great idea. Anything you can make in bulk and eat on the fly is a pretty safe bet -- I'm partial to things can be made in one big bowl and eaten whenever you need something quick.

In terms of snacks -- nuts? granola? dried fruit?

You might also check out this link for filling breakfast options.
posted by puckish at 2:48 PM on December 4, 2008 [3 favorites]

er, "not that it saves you time" meaning "not that it should affect time time you eat lunch" That's what I meant by that. My point was just that *what* you eat will determine how hungry you are, not what time you have breakfast.
posted by puckish at 2:49 PM on December 4, 2008

I usually have two pieces of toast with peanut butter. Sometimes when I run out of bread, I smear peanut butter on apple slices. I do often have a mid-morning snack, though.
posted by craichead at 2:49 PM on December 4, 2008

Very often I don't have breakfast and lunch at all and just eat dinner. Or skip the dinner as well and just do supper. But here are some ideas.. dried figs and tea? Figs are very filling. Romaine and various raw nuts? Nuts have protein but by themselves they're too dry and concentrated, with romain (or other lettuce) they are perfect. Milk and whole grain bread? Milk has a lot of protein, whole grain bread - a lot of fiber. Milk and bananas are also good.
posted by rainy at 2:55 PM on December 4, 2008

Best answer: I eat slow cooked oats with a heaping tablespoon of ground flax seed. It takes five minutes to cook one serving. While it's cooking I throw in the ground flax. Two tablespoons of ground flax is about 80 calories and has five grams of fat. I eat it because it is rich in Omega-3s. I'm always striving to get more Omega 3 in my life.

Hard boiled eggs are portable and easy. Boil up several and store them in the refrigerator.

Liquid eggs and frozen Birdseye pepper and onion mix make an easy and quick omelet. I buy these veggies all of the time to throw into omelets. The frozen onions and peppers (or other stir fry mixes) are just as good as fresh and there is no chopping when I'm in a hurry. Of course, you could use real eggs and fresh veggies. If you're calorie and sat fat conscious you could use one yolk and three and four whites.

I also eat yogurt but that's not helpful to you.

I don't see anything wrong with eating at home and bringing a mid-morning snack if you get hungry. You can eat a piece of fruit at your desk, a handful of nuts, string cheese, whole grain crackers, etc. Two healthy snacks as well as three meals a day is a good idea. It's normal to eat every three to four hours if you don't gorge yourself, which it doesn't sound like you're doing.
posted by Fairchild at 2:59 PM on December 4, 2008

Here's what a co-worker was making for lunch the other day:


add avocado after nuking the tortilla and cheese

For additional protein, add an egg - you can break the egg into a bowl, scramble it with a little water, nuke until cooked, and then add to the tortilla/cheese/avocado. Add black beans and salsa for even more deliciousness.

What I usually eat for breakfast is exactly what craichead eats.

Another co-worker eats soup for breakfast - sometimes it's canned, sometimes it's something she made at home. It always smells wonderful.
posted by rtha at 3:03 PM on December 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

I'd second the fruit smoothie thing. Blend it up the night before and put it in a bottle, or buy some of the kind that Odwalla sells in plastic bottles, and it's as transit-friendly as just about anything you'll find.

I used to make a stack of egg + cheese + english muffin sandwiches every morning for my household. Fast, easy to wrap in foil & stick in a pocket, and pretty good for protein/fat.
posted by brennen at 3:03 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I eat breakfast at home, usually hot cereal or high-fibre cold cereal. It keeps me feeling full and satisfied from 6 to around 10am, when I crave a snack. I get a morning snack at work (I admit to adoring coffee and donuts, but sometimes it will be something bready that I bring with me, or yogurt and fruit.) Here are some potential breakfast ideas for you:

-A lot of people like reheated dinner leftovers for breakfast. It sounds weird, but if you're grossed out by cold cereal and have eaten too much hot cereal, you might enjoy it. Make a little extra the night before and eat a good portion for breakfast. Lasagna and stuff is always better the next day.

-If you enjoy baking, you might make a loaf of a good breakfast bread, like banana bread or raisin bread or a million other variations, and you can make it as fruity or fibre-y or nutty as you like. Having cheese along with (maybe some mild-flavour soft cheeses?) will help with protein. Or nut butters. Or you can look for recipes that incorporate skim milk powder for protein.

-If you're not totally sick of hot cereal, there are many more options out there than instant oatmeal. I make Red River cereal in the microwave and it cooks as I shower. I also like old-fashioned oats, Oat Bran, Cream of Wheat, etc. The more fibrous, the more filling. You can even do cornmeal mush or grits if you like. I like to add a little fat to the hot cereal -- a pat of butter/margarine, or a splash of cream. It satisfies for a longer period of time, as fat slows intestinal transit. Add nuts to the cereal if you want more protein (almonds and walnuts are delicious on hot cereal.) Fruit and milk should round you out for a full meal.

But I really think you should have a morning snack before lunch, even if it's something as simple as cheese and an apple. If you try your new breakfast routine and are still ravenous by 12, then it means you need a snack. It's no good to freak yourself out like that.
posted by peggynature at 3:04 PM on December 4, 2008

what about a microwaved omelet?
posted by citystalk at 3:06 PM on December 4, 2008

i always have breakfast at home and have a mid-morning snack. i just have to eat 6 times a day or i get very unhappy.

usually i have a high fiber cereal for breakfast and a handful of almonds for my morning snack. if you don't like cold cereal, how about warm grape nuts? texture is like oatmeal, but it's high in fiber and keeps you feeling full longer.

alternatively, have some apple slices and cheese or peanut butter in the morning, and then have a midmorning snack of something whole grained or fruit or nuts or cheese.
posted by thinkingwoman at 3:08 PM on December 4, 2008

My favorite breakfast is a fried egg and jelly sandwich. I also love hummus with carrots or bread, and that's an easy thing to prepack.

With regards to snacks, I *have* to recommend Trader Joe's Gluten Free Granola. It's seriously AMAZING, and I am not a granola fan, nor am I on a gluten free diet. It's chock full of stuff like dried fruit and flax seeds, and it comes in a resealable bag. Try the Cranberry Maple Nut flavor.
posted by cucumberfresh at 3:10 PM on December 4, 2008

posted by jcruelty at 3:12 PM on December 4, 2008

I love Annie's Kitchen soups and chilis. They're so delicious and with some toast, they are very filling.
posted by anniecat at 3:14 PM on December 4, 2008

I also love frying up eggs and dipping toast in the runny yolk. Yum!
posted by anniecat at 3:15 PM on December 4, 2008

My breakfast burrito takes about 5 minutes to make. I put the pan on the stove, start it heating. Get an egg out of the fridge. Scramble in bowl. Spray pan with non-stick. Put tortilla (I use the "carb balance" kind because they're loaded with fiber) in the microwave for 15 seconds. Pour egg in pan and cook. Add cheese, a little salsa. Done. I can eat it as I'm going out the door, in my car, etc. It's very fast, very easy, and the eggs really do keep me full longer.
posted by eleyna at 3:17 PM on December 4, 2008

How about a bowl of quinoa? Very high in protein, a nice taste, keeps me full for ages.

Very easy to cook - if you are looking for something savoury you could fire up a rice cooker with a cup of quinoa in it, add some seasoning, a handful of chopped vegies, maybe an egg. Then, hit the button on the cooker and you'll soon have a hot meal which will be filling and full of good stuff. I like that sort of thing cold, too, and you could even make a bulk quantity.

If you wanted it to be sweeter you could add some cinnamon and honey.

I normally eat a big bowl of unsweetened cereal for breakfast.
posted by tomble at 3:19 PM on December 4, 2008

Best answer: A breakfast with lots of protein and some fat in it will not leave you feeling faint after three hours. Seriously, if I eat just carbs for breakfast I can barely get through the morning. If I follow that by just eating carbs for lunch, I feel like dying by 3:00, every time. You need to find protein somehow.

Since you are open to the idea of eating eggs, I will suggest egg muffins. I think I might have found these via metafilter originally. Basically, you scramble up some eggs, add cheese or veggies or whatever you like (I add sausage for extra delicious protein content but that may be going too far for you). Bake in muffin tins at 375 for 25 minutes. You can bake a week's worth of breakfasts all at once. They freeze nicely too, although the texture suffers a little. Then you just microwave them when you're ready for breakfast and you can eat them on the go.
posted by beandip at 3:19 PM on December 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Egg muffins. These are more like muffin-shaped frittatas. Make ahead, freeze, reheat in the morning. Or freeze frittata slices.

Steel-cut oats can be made ahead of time and frozen in single portions. Reheat, mix with milk or whey protein powder, sweeten or add cheese and herbs. Better for you than minute oatmeal.

Cheese. Low-fat or fat-free if you want higher protein content and fewer calories. Light string cheese is good. Ricotta cheese does not taste like yogurt or cottage cheese. Good with fruit or honey, or add salt or chili powder. Put on whole grain toast and eat quickly. Comes in multiple forms, in tubs of soft or in firm blocks. Goat cheese, cream cheese. Put on toast and eat with smoked salmon if you eat fish and onions, or jam.

Cottage cheese may be verboten on its own but can be incorporated in foods or otherwise altered so as to be unrecognizable. You can even make pancakes and muffins with the stuff, or use it as the base of a cheese sauce. Scramble some with eggs and it disappears. Yogurt, too, will sometimes work in a disguised capacity.

Small fruits that can be eaten by hand. Apples, clementines, berries, grapes, pears. Buy frozen bags of fruit and let them thaw in the fridge, then store in a small tub and sweeten as needed.

Whey protein powder. There are a million and one things that can be done with this stuff.

Hard-boiled eggs. Make a batch at the beginning of the week.

Egg whites. Can be bought in cartons.

Non-breakfast food. Leftover grilled chicken. Stuffed pitas. Leftover pasta. Peanut butter sandwiches. Pseudo-pizza on pita, toast, or English muffin. Olives. Nuts: almonds, walnuts, peanuts. Chili, vegetarian or not. Beans in general. Tofu: tofu scrambles, stir-fries, sandwiches. Seitan: stir-fries, sandwiches. Tempeh: same. Make tempeh-avocado-tomato sandwiches. Quorn "chick'n" nuggets.

Stick to whole grains wherever possible.

You do not need to add meat to your diet to boost protein, although it does make it a lot easier. Low-fat or fat-free dairy is an extremely easy way to do it, but don't expect to find low-fat camembert that's any good. Stick to fresh cheeses or naturally lower-fat ones.

Nuts, eggs, and milk don't have all that much protein in small portions. An egg averages 6 g of protein, a glass of milk about 8, nuts can be less than 6-8 g for a quarter-cup serving or a couple tablespoons of peanut or other nut butter. By comparison, a chicken breast averages 25-35 g of protein; a cup of fat-free Greek-style yogurt can have as much as 22 g of protein; a small scoop of whey protein powder up to about 20 g.
posted by jeeves at 3:21 PM on December 4, 2008

Best answer: My breakfast routine, when I remember it, revolves around toast. If you're needing protein to supplement that (I understand where you're coming from, I transitioned away from a vegetarian diet for the same reason) you could try:
- Peanut butter
- Egg salad (prep enough for two days the night before)
- Chicken salad (buy the canned stuff if you're not comfortable cooking the chicken yourself)
- Beans (I make a big pot of bean soup on the weekend. Scoop out some solids and put on hot toast. This also works with your frozen bean burritos.)

Non-toast suggestions:
- Leftovers, leftovers, leftovers. Prepare you evening meal with the idea that it'll be tomorrow's breakfast.
- Quiche is easy to prepare.
- My personal favorite: Pumpkin pie. A well-made pumpkin pie should be 2 parts pumpkin, two parts egg, one part sweetened, condensed milk. Yeah, there's sugar in there, but so much other good stuff. Mmmmmmm, pie.

All of these can be as elaborate or as simple as you want.

Regarding hunger and fullness, I've found that a small meal (a measuring cup's worth of food, or about 300 calories) every two hours keeps me going pretty well. I don't have the horrendous blood sugar peaks and lows any more, and I end up eating less since my body isn't screaming FOOD NOW OR DIE, resulting in overeating, when I finally a chance to eat. Rather than changing what I eat, I've changed when I eat, and it's made a big difference.
posted by lekvar at 3:21 PM on December 4, 2008

You could add peanut or almond butter to either one for a substantial calorie increase and some timed-release energy.


try Tim Ferriss' slow carb breakfast (link is to youtube video)
posted by bradly at 3:35 PM on December 4, 2008

Thanks to mumkin, I now enjoy steel-cut oats for breakfast. I find them much, much, much more filling & satisfying than instant oatmeal! Here's what you do:

- Before bed, bring 3.5 cups of water to a boil
- Turn off the heat, add 1 cup steel-cut oats, and cover
- Next morning, they'll be done. Put 'em in the fridge to eat all week.

In the mornings, I put some of my cooked oats in a bowl with milk and a little molasses or brown sugar. I microwave for a minute or two, then sprinkle some pecans and blueberries on top. It's delicious and really really filling -- I don't get hungry until 1pm or so.
posted by ourobouros at 3:44 PM on December 4, 2008 [11 favorites]

Best answer: These are all things I've tried for a quick breakfast, and they can all be eaten at your desk:

Kashi granola bars

potato salad (unorthodox for breakfast, but good)

as you suggested: fried egg with a bit of cheese on multigrain bread (bonus: ketchup and/or mustard)

a bit of peanut butter + plenty of pumpkin butter on multigrain bread

Bolthouse Farms smoothie

fruit cup

a couple clementines

Asian pear (the best fruit ever)

Most of those require little to no preparation. The potato salad would be made in advance or store-bought; the egg sandwich needs to be cooked in the morning, but takes just 5 minutes.
posted by Jaltcoh at 4:29 PM on December 4, 2008

a bit of peanut butter + plenty of pumpkin butter on multigrain bread

I should clarify: I pack this as a normal sandwich, but at work I separate the slices of bread and eat it as open face to maximize enjoyment.

You can do the same thing with hummus on multigrain if you don't mind hummus for breakfast. (Optional: there are all sorts of extras you can add to this: lettuce, walnuts, pesto, etc. -- get creative!)
posted by Jaltcoh at 4:32 PM on December 4, 2008

I was never a big fan of breakfast - nothing sounds appealing that early in the morning - but I was always dying by lunch-time. Recently I started taking a big glass of 2% milk, putting in a heaping tablespoon of whey powder (which I get in the bulk food bins at the grocery store) and shaking with a cocktail shaker. Sometimes throw in a handful of oats before shaking. Maybe also eat a banana or orange, maybe not.

It only takes a few seconds, tastes good, and it isn't so heavy that the thought makes me ill. And by lunch, I'm still doing good. Sometimes lunch time even sneaks up on me.
posted by ctmf at 4:53 PM on December 4, 2008

Divorce yourself from the idea that the only things you can eat at Breakfast are 'breakfast foods' and you'll open up a lot more options.

I like to start my day with a couple of turkey pepperoni sticks, as an example, because protein, even in very small amounts will carry me through the day much more effectively than a much larger quantity of carbs. Any kind of lean meat will serve this purpose -- I sometimes go with kolbassa or ham or other such things. Also, Costco sells these pre-cooked way salty chicken breast slices that I buy periodically and often eat for breakfast (and other meals) since they're a great source of lean protein. (And salt. They're very salty.) Eggs are good relatively lean protein, too, but I don't like eggs, so I don't eat them for breakfast.

If I mention lean protein a couple more times, it'll stop having any meaning to me as a word. But really, that's what you need to start eating in the morning to get you through the day without the sugar crashes that are caused by the typical north american breakfast of carbs.

Cheese is not usually all that lean, but is another source of fat and protein for your morning diet rather than carbs.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:50 PM on December 4, 2008

I have had a lot of luck making Alton Brown's protein bars. If the thought of a protein bar grosses you out, don't worry; the only thing these things have in common with those jaw-wrenching, chocolate-coated, store-bought chemical monstrosities is that they both have a lot of protein and they're both rectanguloid. These ones have a lot of dried fruit in them and have a dense, somewhat cakey texture. I love them for breakfast. It'll require buying some things you probably wouldn't buy otherwise, but you can bake a whole bunch of them and not worry about protein in the morning for a long time (they freeze well for long-term storage). I probably wouldn't recommend making them your entire breakfast, although I've done that some mornings when I'm in a hurry.

Like many people, I don't find many foods appetizing early in the morning. But things like this, that are just a little sweet, seem to go down fine.

I've also read that not getting enough protein in the morning makes you hungry sooner than you would otherwise (and also that it will give you cravings for less healthier foods).

Here is the recipe, though I always prefer cooking Good Eats recipes by following a transcript of the episode.
posted by ErWenn at 7:47 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Dal Bukhara, it's what's for breakfast.

You might also look into Ostrim sticks and kashi bars - both the crunchy and the soft.

Be careful with kashi though - those things are so filling you might forget to eat for the rest of the day.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 10:37 PM on December 4, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone--these are some GREAT suggestions. I knew that there were more options out there than what I could think of.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 7:05 AM on December 5, 2008

On work days, I get up at 6:00 a.m. and I'm out of the door at 6:15 a.m. Ready-made breakfast products don't fit my needs since they're either stuffed to the brim with sugar or leave me starving by 11:00 a.m. My solution: whole-grain crackers, nuts, seeds and dried fruit, packed the night before, eaten at my desk when I arrive at 7:30. A typical breakfast will contain of three large-ish whole-grain crackers, a small handfull of nuts (50% walnuts, 50% other), four dried apricots, a small handfull of a mix of dried cranberries and seeds and some yoghurt-coated raisins. For packaging I use a Tupperware-ish container with three separate compartments, but anything that keeps the crackers from breaking while they're in your bag would work.
posted by rjs at 8:48 AM on December 6, 2008

Protein in breakfast is a must for me also. I eat Eggo's "nutritious" waffles (nutrigrain I think is what they're called), and I top them with some peanut butter for protein. Topped by a bit of syrup. The peanut butter really helps get through the morning. It is also easy to make and I can go say hello to my cat while the waffles are in the toaster :)
posted by evening at 5:16 AM on December 8, 2008

On a day when you have time, mince some ham, onion, peppers, mushrooms, celery, and/or whatever you like. Fry this up and put it in the fridge for later. Then, in the morning, throw this in the pan, add some eggs and milk/cream, and scramble! Easy peasy. For extra yum, grate some cheese on top.

I eat this (or similar) seven days a week, and it definitely keeps me full until lunch. I eat breakfast at 7, and usually have lunch at about noon - so this keeps me satiated for five hours or so.
posted by arcticwoman at 11:43 AM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

« Older Chronological Classics   |   Miscegenation less popular than gay marriage? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.