I slapped my alarm clock this morning at 5:56 am.
Lately, I’ve been using piano songs to wake me up, since the blaring nuclear-meltdown alarm on my Iphone gives me panic attacks when I wake up at the crack of dawn.
The alarm goes off.
Then I’m in the shower.
26 minutes left to go before I have to leave.
I brush my teeth, get dressed, and go downstairs.
13 minutes left.
Damn. What am I going to make for breakfast?
There’s a very simple process I use when I’m rushed, stressed, or confused in order to figure out what to eat in the least time possible.
What’s it involve?
Six questions that I ask myself.
6 Simple Breakfast Questions
Below are simple questions you can either ask yourself if you’re planning ahead (in the grocery store), or if you’ve got supplies but have that morning brain fog that kicks in when you have 12 minutes before you have to leave for work.
Remember, anytime you think:
Hmmm, what should I have for breakfast?
… You’ve already lost. Success stories have systems, people that struggle to do this on a regular basis try to wing things, or worse, figure it out on the spot when willpower is low or when we’re tired.
And like most things in my life, breakfast is systematized too.
Here are a few things to ask yourself tonight before you repeat tomorrow morning again.
1. The Tiny-Test
This question asks:
Is this fast?
By far, the simplest rule is the best: IS IT FAST?
Sure, I would love to eat like this every day:
… But it’s just not happening.
Seriously, that’d be awesome.
But until Latina or Costa Rican robots that can cook me breakfast exist, I’m not getting up an hour early for a meal I’ll eat in five minutes before running out the door.
Is it really going to happen?
So, what’s the fastest thing you can find? Then go on to question 2.
2. The 12 Hour Layover & Sleep Test
This one is massive for me.
I already get up and am rushed every morning, especially if I do some of my morning ritual and daily habits.
When I run out to work early in the morning and don’t have any food, I get grumpy.
And when I get grumpy, I get angry.
And when I get angry, grumpy, and hungry, I’m like a hangry pregnant woman with the meanest cravings of her life.
One way around rushing in the morning to cook eggs (for example), is to get foods you can prepare the night before.
A classic example of this would be something like a parfait, overnight oats, or even a pre-made meal you just microwave or heat up. Technically, you could even make eggs and bacon the day before, leave it in the refrigerator, and then just warm it up the next morning.
Creepy, and soggy, but it would probably work.
What can you make the night before?
Bacon and eggs might sound awesome right now, but do you have 25 minutes in the morning?
3. Does It Pass The Hulk (Bulk) Test?
Hulk = bulk.
A nice little memory trick for you there.
Think of a parfait. You have yogurt, you have berries or fruits and then you have granola.
You can buy any of those things in a five pound bag – the granola will stay good forever, the fruits you can buy in a large container (or use bananas/apples), and then the yogurt you can just buy a massive jar of and leave in the refrigerator for awhile.
First, this makes it extremely easy to make a breakfast in bulk. You don’t really have to worry about shopping every single day for food. And next, if you want to make your breakfasts in bulk, you can do that.
Think of it like going into Chipotle.
When you get into the store, they have all the food lined up in huge vats and then they just spoon out what you want into the actual bowl.
The food is ready in bulk, and then you just grab and go.
Try to treat your breakfast the same if you tend to do it cold.
Or even some kind of healthy cereal.
Not only is there a massive price saving benefit here, the payoffs for those of us lazy/grumpy/tired morning people are huge.
Being lazy + eating a nice breakfast = happy Alex.
4. Does It Have Protein?
One of the simplest food principles that consistently has been shown to help people weigh less is eating more protein.
Yes, like eating more animals.
Although if you’re not into eating Bambi or other animals, that’s okay too.
In general, because of the thermic effect of protein, it takes a bit longer to digest and it’ll keep you fuller, longer.
Now, I know there are some of you that swear that your morning oatmeal keeps you full for five hours. Personally, I’ve never found this to be the case.
Usually the first 30 minutes result in bloating, and then the next two hours result in hangry-ness, because I wished I ate eggs or something more substantial.
To each their own. But as a general rule, protein will keep you fuller longer and curb your appetite better.
Besides animal proteins like eggs and bacon, there are in the middle animal proteins like yogurt, and then plant proteins like nuts and seeds.
All of these are great (better) choices for breakfasts.
5. Would It Pass The Fast Food Test?
I recently experienced the worst feeling on the planet.
I woke up early, fully prepared to make myself a delicious breakfast of eggs and bacon, and then realized that I was out of bacon – out of bacon for a bacon and eggs breakfast.
For a moment, I considered throwing my frying pan through the bay window, but after regaining my composure, realized that I needed to plan better in the future.
Even if you just want to make a parfait, sometimes you realize you don’t have any yogurt left, or there’s no fruit. Or you ran out of granola so there won’t be a crunch.
What to do?
The best breakfast foods are ones you can mix and match.
A parfait is a good example.
If you don’t have berries, you can put bananas.
Or, if you want some crunch, add apples.
If you don’t have granola, you can throw some cereal in there.
And if you don’t have yogurt, well, you’re just going to work hangry. And that’s rough.
Eggs are another good example.
You can put eggs on toast, on avocado, on meat, or just eat them by themselves.
Toast is another awesome mix and match food. You can just have toast and butter, or you can have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You can throw eggs on toast. Or you can just put honey on toast.
You can even get really creative and put on sliced bananas with peanut butter and honey – lots of calories for breakfast to keep you full, and still pretty sweet.
So I tend to have three mix and match foods in my fridge always:
- Parfait mix.
If you’re missing stuff, can you throw something else in there?
6. Does It Actually Taste Good?
In general, you shouldn’t eat your money – you should spend it on things you CAN eat. Like pastries. Mmmmmm.
I’ll admit I’m a bit embarassed that I saved this one for last.
Taste can’t always be first for food, otherwise it’d be Krispy Kremes for breakfast every day, but it definitely shouldn’t be last.
I don’t care how healthy plain oatmeal is, most of us just won’t eat it if it tastes like cardboard.
The easiest way to make anything cardboard-like taste good is simple:
Add fresh fruits.
Or add a bit of brown sugar.
When I was a kid, my mom used to make this puritanical cream of wheat that I could’ve sworn pilgrims in little school kid clothing must’ve eaten in freezing new-england weather three hundred years ago.
And to make it a lot less boring, we would add some fresh (real) maple syrup to it.
Now I don’t know about you, but pretty much anything tastes delicious with maple syrup, and even if you hate oatmeal, adding 100 calories of maple syrup isn’t much when your breakfast is only 200-300 calories.
Enjoy it. And this is especially true when it comes to having kids, and actually getting them to eat healthier food.
Erin brings up some great points in her article here on quick breakfast “hacks,” particularly for making it work with kids.
Bonus Breakfast Hacks
There are also tons of other clever ideas for making breakfast, like this list from Buzzfeed on 25 easy breakfast hacks, including making hard boiled eggs in the oven or making french toast in a crockpot.
There were some great other clever ones that I liked quite a lot:
– Crispy hash browns using a waffle iron
– Apple rings dipped in pancake batter (time consuming, but look delicious)
– Using your Keurig coffee maker to make oatmeal
What about you?
How do you typically go about figuring out what to eat for breakfast?
What’s your system?
Share it below.
One Other Final Resource
Knowing what to make for breakfast is easy.
Actually doing it (as a regular habit) is the hard part. The really hard part.
And that’s exactly what I wrote my book for, Master The Day, because almost all of us know what to do, but actually seeing the results from being consistent is a totally different ballgame.
Images: Some images used with permission from freedigitalphotos.net