Originally published 3/21/2016; updated 1/4/2017.
By “Skipper,” I mean “of breakfast”—not the nautical variety. See, I used to do it. Religiously. First off, I have never been a breakfast-food fangirl. (And eating breakfast for dinner? DON’T EVEN...!) I remember dense pancakes that would sit in my stomach like a boulder, or overcooked eggs that would hit the back of my throat and bounce.
There are still times when I just can’t hack the idea of eggs or anything else that’s easy to make. In those cases, I bypass the breakfast food in favor of a PB&J. But I do now try to make sure that I eat breakfast in some form.
The importance of eating breakfast: it's all relative
Now, before you run off: I PROMISE that I’m not going to go all Breakfast Nazi on you. Despite what you’ve heard about breakfast being the most important meal of the day, and all the don’t-skip-breakfast-or-else-bad-stuff-happens hype, some studies and nutritionists dispute the “all importantness” of eating breakfast. Me? I figure that it’s all relative: find whatever works best for your body and do that.
I’ve found that MINE needs an infusion of carbs, protein, and fiber first thing in the morning.
I’ve learned that if I skip eating breakfast, I hit a low-blood-sugar wall at about 10 am, after which I exist in a fuzzy, zombie-like state until lunch. Productivity is NOT one of the redeeming features of Michelle-Zombie, although I’m told that MZ is funny and cute in a whimsical (= spacy), Muppet-like way. MZ is also ravenous by the time lunch rolls around. Brains are not out of the question. In all seriousness, though, I almost always end up eating more than I would have otherwise.
So, now I avoid Zombieland by eating a small breakfast. Now that I’ve figured out some easy hacks over the years, eating breakfast isn’t half the struggle that it used to be. NOW, I can cook eggs a bunch of different ways so as not to get bored, AND they’re cooked correctly—no more gagging. Bonus!
My strategies for eating breakfast every day (ahem, most days)
I am NOT an “eggspert” by any stretch of the imagination (BAD, I know, I know). In fact, here’s where my “home cook-i-ness” is going to show. THE HARDEST breakfast, IMHO—and I SWEAR everyone thinks is easy—is the fried egg. First, you have to crack it without breaking the yolk. Then, you have to get it into the pan without breaking the yolk. Then, you have to FLIP it without…you guessed it. And get it onto the plate, and yadi, yadi, yadi.
I hate flipping eggs and avoid doing so at all costs. Instead, my solution is the sunny-side-up egg. No flip step in my kitchen. So: olive oil (or butter, or both) into a pan over medium heat, add egg, add a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper. When the egg white is starting to set up and turn uniformly white, add lid. Turn heat to low. Remove the egg when there’s no detectable runniness, but before the yolk turns pale. BOOM. There are lots of variations on this, like baked eggs, eggs in purgatory, shakshuka, etc.
Nowadays, scrambled eggs or frittatas are my most frequent breakfast of choice. You can riff on them endlessly, making them as simple or as decadent as you want. They’re done in 10 minutes or less, and they’re really good once you figure out a few simple tricks. Wrap your frittata in a warm tortilla for a great breakfast on-the-go.
Eggs are a great way to use up leftovers. Got steak? Put it on a slice of toast, fry an egg to top it, add a slice of cheese, and top with another slice of toast. If you want to get fancy with it, caramelize some onions for an over-the-top topping. BEST BREAKFAST SANDWICH EVER. Got leftover veggies? Put them in a frittata. You get the idea.
Not in the mood for anything remotely related to eggs? No worries. There’s always oatmeal: quick-cooking varieties are done in 10 minutes and can be dressed up with all sorts of yummy things like pecans, cinnamon, craisins—really whatever you want. Rolled oats work best for a quick cook, but you can also make oatmeal in the slow-cooker the night before using steel-cut oats.
There’s also the work-ahead strategy, where you make a more complicated breakfast—for example, waffles, pancakes, or maybe even a breakfast casserole—and freeze individual servings. You can pop out a serving and reheat it in the toaster oven or microwave while you get ready.
To freeze waffles or pancakes, I put individual pancakes or waffles in plastic wrap first (after they've completely cooled), and then package all of the individually wrapped portions together in a large, zip-top freezer bag.
Breakfast casseroles are another great option for the work-ahead strategy: make them for a weekend brunch, then portion the leftovers out into single servings and freeze them. Thaw individual portions out the day before you want them, then reheat in the oven or the microwave (making sure that the internal temp reaches 165 degrees F).
A skipper no more?
I won't say that I NEVER skip eating breakfast anymore, but it's rare now. Also, since committing to a life of healthier eating and working out (#NewYearsResolution), I need extra fuel in the mornings.
I've included links to some of my favorite breakfast recipes below. I hope that these strategies will help you stay fueled AND save money ON fuel—by avoiding the drive-thru line at Micky D's!
A healthy, 5-minute breakfast. You can make scrambled eggs plain, with herbs, or with whatever leftover veggies or meat you'd like.
Frittatas are another quick and versatile breakfast option. There are a mind-boggling number of variations to try—I list a few of my favorites. Wrap your frittata in a warm flour tortilla for breakfast-on-the-go!
This oatmeal is made on the stovetop and done in about 10 minutes. I love to top it with cinnamon and praline pecans, or simply salt and a tiny bit of butter.
These waffles are a weekend treat for the Frank family. Sometimes, though, I make a big batch of them and freeze the lot for easy breakfasts during the week. Simply reheat in the toaster oven until hot and crispy.
This breakfast casserole is a hit for special occasions like breakfast on Christmas or Mother's Day brunch. It can also be made ahead, divided up into individual portions, and frozen for weekday breakfasts. You can reheat the casserole in the toaster oven or microwave (just be sure the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F!).