A healthy approach to menu planning part 1: Breakfast

by lizzi (follow)
Helping plant the seeds of positive birth. www.sproutbirthing.com.au
Nutrition (269)     
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet so many people skip it in favour of a coffee or nothing. Or they just eat the same (not nutritionally great) thing every single day. This is where a little planning can make things so much simpler and healthier!

YUM! But not really a complete breakfast. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Things to consider:

What do you like to eat?

Think about what you really like to eat. Does that bowl of soggy cereal really make you feel inspired about the day ahead or leave you feeling a bit "blah"? Sick of toast and vegemite, but stuck in a breakfast loop? What would you prefer to be eating instead?

I LOVE to eat big cooked breakfasts - C'mon, you know that you do too! So I've been having cereal only once or twice a week and making a variety of different cooked breakfasts the rest of the time. I mostly do omelettes because they are so easy. Sometimes I add some short cut bacon or some baked beans or I cook the eggs differently for variety.

Are you a morning person?

This will really feed into what you decide to make for breakfast. If you are having the same boring cereal every day simply because you don't feel like making a full on breakfast in the morning, look at preparing something the night before or upping the nutritional profile of your cereal. Easy breakfasts to prepare the night before are green smoothies, dairy based smoothies, or you can pre-chop some vegies for an omelette. An easy way to increase the nutritional profile of your cereal is to simply make sure you are eating a variety of cereals and add a few "superfoods" like chia seeds, LSA and fruit.

I'm definitely NOT a morning person. So having a menu plan for breakfast ensures that I know what I need to prepare in the evening. If I plan to have a green smoothie for breakfast I make it up after dinner the night before. If I am having an omelette I chop extra vegies when I'm preparing dinner and put them aside. I also have difficulty making decisions when I am still half asleep...Having a plan means that I don't have to!

What do you have planned for the day?

If you are planning a huge lunch, then a small bowl of cereal might be all you need to get you going. Or if you will have the morning to yourself you might be better off putting a little more time and effort into your breakfast.

On daycare days I drop the kids off and come home to make a full cooked breakfast with eggs, bacon, vegies, toast and avocado with a sprinkling of parmesan - it's so nice to enjoy it knowing that no-one is going to be trying to steal some and because it's only once a week I think it's okay as a treat!

Do you have any specific nutritional needs that can be addressed at breakfast?

Breakfast is a great opportunity to make a start on getting your nutritional needs met. Low in calcium? A smoothie with fruit, milk, chia seeds and yoghurt can be a great way to give yourself a calcium boost. Need an iron boost? My healthier cooked breakfast is a good source of iron - add a little ham or short cut bacon or even left over steak or chicken for an extra boost. Been feeling a little sluggish lately? Add fibre with fruit and vegies or a high fibre cereal.

Baked beans
Add some extra nutrition with some baked beans. Quick, simple and yum!

Breakfast is a brilliant opportunity to get in an extra serve of fruit or vegies. If you have trouble getting your two serves of fruit each day a few options could be:

Add some fresh or dried fruit to your cereal in the morning. At the moment I'm loving dried cranberries or chopped fresh peaches on my gluten free cereal.

Use some beautiful tropical fruits in either a green or milk based smoothie.

A fruit salad with greek yoghurt can be put together in the evening for a quick and easy breakfast.

If the 5 serves of vegies is where your trouble lies then breakfast can be the perfect opportunity to get a head start for the day!

Add chopped vegies to your omelette.

Fry or roast up some tomatoes.

Green smoothies can also help out with vegies.

Once you have all of these questions answered, writing out the actual breakfast plan for the week will be simple!

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