Egg-and-cheese bagels, it's not you. It's me.
December 15, 2010 1:41 PM   Subscribe

I need healthy grab-and-go breakfast ideas.

Scrounging up a healthy lunch and dinner isn't too hard when I put my mind to it, but workday breakfasts are another story.

Had I my druthers, I'd sit down and enjoy a nice bowl of steel-cut oats and some yogurt with fruit. But even if it weren't for the preparation time, I don't really want to get up 15-20 minutes earlier to eat breakfast at home. So I usually grab an egg-and-cheese sandwich and a coffee on my way to work, and eat in the car.

So: what healthier options could I bring from home to eat in the car? Fresh fruit is obviously a great choice, but what can I round that out with?


- Must be convenient for eating while driving - e.g., nothing that requires a spoon.

- I don't mind making something ahead of time, as long as it will keep for several days, and requires very little last-minute prep before eating. (Popping something in the microwave for a minute is fine. Anything more involved than that is not.)

- No pre-manufactured bars. (Homemade bars of some kind would be enthusiastically considered, if you have a good recipe.)

- I'm (more or less) a vegetarian.

- Bonus points if it contains whole grains and/or some protein.

- If it matters, I'm planning to start an exercise program which involves some time on the treadmill first thing every morning. So I'll be eating this stuff shortly after doing that. I don't know nothin' about the technical fitness/nutrition biology that some people get into, but if you do - and can recommend something you think would be good for this situation - then by all means fire away.
posted by ixohoxi to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
You can make yourself scones! ...Which I realize aren't the healthiest things in existence, but they're waaaay better than an egg and cheese bagel.

You can add pretty much anything to them (rolled oats and blueberries might be a good "healthy" option), they're easy to make, and freeze/warm back up in a toaster oven really well.

My favorite basic recipe:

1 3/4 c flour
2 1/4 t baking powder
1 T sugar
1/2 t salt
1/2 stick butter
2 eggs
1/3 c milk (or cream or half and half or whatever)

Combine, then bake at 450 for about 13 minutes. Makes about 8 palm-sized scones.

To that you can add: nuts, oats, frozen fruit, dried fruit, fresh fruit, jam, cinnamon, brown sugar, rosemary, cheese, etc, etc, etc. They're so adaptable.

(And really, they are extremely easy to make if you have a pastry blender. Really. I was hungry a little while ago and made some cinnamon sugar and blueberry ones in less than a half hour total.)
posted by phunniemee at 1:49 PM on December 15, 2010

For me it is a banana and a hard-boiled (we use a food steamer) egg. You can steam a bunch of eggs at once and they keep pretty well in the fridge for a number of days.

Or I make a soymilk and protein powder protein shake - takes all of two minutes.
posted by jillithd at 1:52 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nuts! Almonds are my favorite, but whatever nuts you like. I'm always rushed in packing my lunch, but almonds + apple + maybe some cheese if I'm starving = satisfying lunch, and would make a great breakfast, too.
posted by Knicke at 1:52 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'd start thinking outside of the breakfast box. You're an adult. You can have lunch or dinner food for breakfast too. If you need something you can eat in the car, think about handheld things you eat other times of the day. I sometimes have salad for breakfast. Wrap that salad in a tortilla and go. Have a PBJ sandwich. A bean burrito. Make your own Hot Pockets with whatever ingredients you like. Drink soup out of a thermos. In other words, eat anything you like to eat that fits your other parameters. Then, have oatmeal and yogurt for dinner, when you have time to sit with your spoon and enjoy it!
posted by decathecting at 1:55 PM on December 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

I would suggest a nuts and dried fruit mix, carefully measured if you're into that. A dozen or more almonds and an apple are always good, especially if you slice the apple first. I don't recommend eating while driving.
posted by Hylas at 1:58 PM on December 15, 2010

Get up 15 minutes earlier and make the oatmeal.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:00 PM on December 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Fruit? How difficult could it be to eat an apple (with peanut butter on it!), or banana? Grapes, raisins, prunes all work too.
posted by OHenryPacey at 2:04 PM on December 15, 2010

Breakfast burritos! I made my veggie ones with eggs, tater tots, salsa, shredded cheese and sometimes some kind of sausage substitute, like Morningstar Crumbles. An hour of prep once a month will give you ~28 burritos that require 90 seconds of heating in the morning.

Please don't eat while driving.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 2:09 PM on December 15, 2010 [9 favorites]

Make ahead of time: oatmeal cookies and pack them full of yummy healthy stuff: flax seed, raisins, nuts, cranberries, whole wheat, etc. Cut back on the sugar in the recipe.

I also enjoy me a mozzarella cheese stick for breakfast. That with a piece of fruit and I'm a happy camper.
posted by Sassyfras at 2:22 PM on December 15, 2010

How about this amazing-looking two-minute weekday steel-cut oatmeal recipe? It would allow you to 1) eat what you prefer and 2) avoid eating while driving.

You prep it in a dutch oven, say on Sunday night, and leave it in the fridge. Then every morning, you scoop some in a bowl, add goodies (applesauce, etc), microwave, and enjoy. Keeps for five days!
posted by dayintoday at 2:29 PM on December 15, 2010 [4 favorites]

If you must drive while you consume breakfast, make a smoothie. At least that way you can sip it at stoplights, etc. Throw the following in a blender:

-1 banana
-frozen fruit (I like blueberries)
-juice of some nature
-protein powder (vanilla flavour is nice)
-optional squeeze of honey

Delicious and nutritious, as well as safer while driving.
posted by Go Banana at 2:29 PM on December 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

If you decide to bring a smoothie, try adding a little spinach to Go Banana's eponymous recipe -- you won't taste it. It still tastes like banana. It will be green to remind you how healthy it is, though.
posted by theredpen at 2:31 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I know you said no spoons, but if you took away the prep time for the steel cut oats, would they still be an option?

Lately, I've been making a big batch of steel cut oats and putting a week's worth of individual portions in Tupperware. The texture changes slightly, but I actually like it- a little thicker and more substantial. It's good microwaved for a minute or two, or even cold. I add milk and some brown sugar or syrup and go.
posted by charmcityblues at 2:35 PM on December 15, 2010

I was going to say Breakfast Burritos too. It's easy to make a bunch on the weekend, and freeze the majority. Plus you can change up exactly what's inside and get some variation.
posted by grapesaresour at 2:42 PM on December 15, 2010

How about some muffin-sized breakfast quiche? I've added the recipe below. You make them ahead of time, and then just warm them in the microwave for about 30-45 seconds in the morning. Easy!

Makes One Dozen

1 (10-oz.) bag baby spinach (save leftovers for a salad later in the day)
1/2 cup chopped onion, sautéed till translucent (in a skillet with about 1 tablespoon of oil)
1 (8-oz.) bag shredded low fat cheddar cheese (9 tablespoons)
9 eggs, cracked in a bowl and beaten as if making scrambled eggs
Salt and pepper to taste (added to the eggs, stir well)

Preheat the oven to 375. In the meantime, lightly grease your muffin pan with either a non-aerosol spray or a little oil on a paper towel.
Into the greased muffin cups, add about 3 or 4 leaves of spinach(sometimes I saute the spinach with the onions adding the spinach when the onions are almost done). Top the spinach with about a teaspoon of sautéed onions. Top the onions with about 1 tablespoon of shredded cheese. Then using a soup ladle, add enough egg mixture to fill the muffin tin about 2/3 full.
Bake your little breakfast quiches for about 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of your muffin tin cups. They should brown up nicely on the top, but be careful not to overcook. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick in the middle of one of the muffin cups. If the toothpick comes out clean, then your quiches are done! Let them cool for at least 10 minutes in the pan. Using a dinner knife, carefully run the blade around the perimeter of each little quiche and plop them carefully onto a plate to finish cooling.
Freeze anything leftover. To reheat, just let thaw overnight and zap in your microwave for a minute or less.
posted by garnetgirl at 3:09 PM on December 15, 2010 [8 favorites]

make a smoothie

After mixing your smoothie, rinse the blender pitcher, add water and dish soap and put it back on the blender to mix. Very quick and easy way to clean it. It's ready for tomorrow and no scrubbing.
posted by vitabellosi at 5:30 PM on December 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

I wish I was better at eating breakfast. That said, breakfast burritos are great. I like the purposeful leftovers nuked in the morning, which are not breakfast food, but are delicious.

Fruit, cut up the night before and left in tupperware.

Toast and peanut butter (almond butter, butter with cinnamon, pesto).

Nuke an egg in a bowl for one minute on high. Add cheese, pesto, tomato sauce on a bagel. I know you said you do that, but I think they are fine, dressed up. And it is so easy and quick you could probably shovel it down before you leave.

Alton Brown has some homemade granola that is supposed to be amazing. I know he has also made some bars of various sorts. He also recommends making waffles in a waffle iron part of the way done, then freezing them and baking them the day you want to eat them. I cannot claim to have done any of this.
posted by jenlovesponies at 5:35 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

These bars are unbelievably good.

2 cups nuts (any division you want, any kinds of nuts you want. I generally go with 1/2 each of walnuts, pecans, cashews, and almonds. Make sure they're all about the same size.)

1 1/2 cups dried fruit (again, any combination. Figs, dates, golden raisins, blueberries, cherries, cranberries.)

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup powdered milk

1/2 cup wheat bran

1/2 cup wheat germ

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup vegetable oil (definitely NOT olive oil)

Mix fruit and nuts. Mix dry ingredients and add to fruit and nuts; add honey and oil. Add enough water to moisten. Press into a small square pan (8 x 8 or 9 x 9) that you have greased (or sprayed with cooking spray) and bake at 375 F for about 30 minutes or until it looks slightly golden brown. Let cool completely before cutting into bars.
posted by cooker girl at 6:00 PM on December 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Toast or even large crackers (like Wasa or Finnish crispbread) with smooshed avocado with a little olive oil and red pepper flakes. I smoosh the avocado right onto the bread or cracker and then dribble on the olive oil and sprinkle with red pepper but you could also mix them together quickly in a bowl and then spread onto the toast or cracker. If you use the smoosh on method just be careful not to use too much pressure or the crackers (esp) will break.
posted by kaybdc at 6:53 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Steel-cut-oats-in-a-Thermos. The night before, add boiling water and steel-cut oats to a Thermos. The next morning, it's ready.
posted by SillyShepherd at 7:05 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Egg and cheese is actually not a terrible choice for breakfast. Lots of protein which you need in the morning. So I say make your own breakfast sandwich instead. 1 egg (you could do egg whites or egg beaters if you prefer), scrambled in a non stick pan so you don't have to use butter, topped with one slice of lowfat cheese on a whole wheat english muffin or whole grain toast. You could also assemble these the night before (or make like 10 of them on a weekend) and freeze them. Then pop in the microwave for about a minute. Obviously you don't want to do this everyday. 6-7 eggs a week is probably pushing it even for a healthy person with good cholesterol. But it's definitely something to add to your stash of breakfast goodies.
posted by katyggls at 7:18 PM on December 15, 2010

This granola bar recipe is fantastic. When I make them I have to resist the urge to eat them for every meal.
posted by sepviva at 7:26 PM on December 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Any kind of nut butter on whole grain bread with real fruit, or jam.

Hummus on whole grain bread or crackers.

Look for high protein bread.

Cold pizza.
posted by mareli at 7:29 PM on December 15, 2010

Muffins -- morning glory muffins, bran muffins, any other healthy recipe. Make ahead, freeze, and then reheat in the microwave for 30 seconds or in the toaster oven for a few minutes before you go.
posted by chickenmagazine at 11:15 PM on December 15, 2010

"Egg Muffins" worked out really well for me. I found a recipe a while back that involved eggs, low-fat cottage cheese, blueberries, and some other ingredients baked in a muffin tin for 20 minutes on the weekend, and then refrigerated and used throughout the week. Sorry, I haven't been successful trying to google the recipie again, I've got it bookmarked on my home PC but can't get to it now. However, this recipe looks similar to what I use. I'd throw a banana in there too to even the flavor out. I refrigerate them on the weekends and just eat them cold straight from the fridge on other days.

You might want to look at a similar question I asked a while back, I got the egg muffin idea from there. Some of the other answers might help you.
posted by Vorteks at 9:39 AM on December 16, 2010

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