Our breakfast nook is finally ready for school. That’s a good thing.
I shocked a lot of people when I announced at the beginning of summer that my kids would have to make their own breakfasts when they head back to school — the kids included.
I mean, can a 5 1/2-year-old and 8-year-old really be trusted with feeding themselves? I can’t speak for everyone’s kids, but in our case, yes.
Both of my children are good eaters who enjoy a variety of foods. I don’t have to worry about them skipping breakfast — because they like it too much and I will be watching anyway. Both are interested in nutrition and understand that eating well is a requirement.
And, they both can read — which helps a little too.
Setting the Breakfast Rules for Kids
To get our breakfast nook ready for the kids, I had to spend a little time thinking about food varieties and how to best encourage them to choose wisely without having to look over their shoulders constantly. That’s what led me to our family breakfast rules:
Breakfast must consist of at least two of the following:
- 1 fruit
- 1 grain
- 1 dairy
They can combine them however they like or have all three, but they cannot double up on any (I am aiming for variety here — obviously, two fruits would be okay, but we’re working on balance right now).
To reinforce these rules, I created a sign for our breakfast nook so they they can always have a reminder at hand.
Stocking the Breakfast Nook
Also in our breakfast nook is a basket of fruit that I keep stocked with their seasonal favorites (there’s also some fruit in the fridge as well). And we have a huge supply of yogurt on hand always, as well. The kids can also have milk or cheese with their breakfast for their dairy.
For grains, some days the kids will just have buttered bread (they can’t make toast since we don’t have a toaster). But Will also sometimes has cereal. And with our Keurig, the kids can make their own oatmeal (just skip the pod and make sure the pod holder is clean!).
We also have a wire basket with bars they can have for breakfast — granola, cereal, fruit and nut, etc.
A few of their favorites:
- Trader Joe’s Cereal Bars (not pictured)- My kids are crazy for these bars. I love the punny packaging (and that they have pretty straight-forward ingredients lists). I try to keep these on hand as often as possible. And they are also great for school snacks.
- KIND Mini Bars – KIND Bars are made from nuts, sometimes fruit and something gooey and delicious to hold them together. They are positively addictive. (Seriously, I’ve spoken of my KIND bar love before.) And these smaller Mini Bars are great for lunch boxes (if your school allows nuts) and for breakfast too. For kids like my daughter who like KIND bars, but can’t finish a whole one, they are perfect for adding to the morning fare. (I should note that KIND sent me a few Mini Bars to try, but all opinions are my own).
- Kidz Zone Perfect Yellow Cupcake Bars – Okay, these totally fall into the treat zone for the kids since they are a little sweeter than I typically want them to have in the morning. But they are great for those days when the kids have a lot of activity planned since they are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Plus, my kids adore them. (Again, I should note that Zone Perfect sent these to me to try … and the kids loved them. All opinions are my own.)
- Quaker Chewy Bars – These are a total classic, so we always have them on hand. While they aren’t good for my son’s nut-free school, for breakfast they can be an excellent option alongside healthy choices like fruit and yogurt.
Kid-Friendly Breakfast Nook Tour
While this might not be for every family, having my kids take charge of breakfast frees me up in the mornings to make more interesting, fun lunches for the kids. And empowering them to make smart food decisions can only mean good things for the future. We’re all pretty excited.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of four cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to a tween and a teen, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.