Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ask the Internet: Fast Breakfast for Students?

This week’s question comes from a student. Man, haven't we all been here?

Q: One thing I have always struggled with is having a good breakfast, especially on the go. I'm a college senior (class of 2010!) and my time is very limited in the mornings (probably because I get up at the latest I can). I have come to hate buying breakfast from the food carts or spending money (college/intern=broke) and would like to know any suggestions for any nutritious (and quick) meals in the morning. I have long commutes to Manhattan and usually have to eat on the go. Normally I try to eat fruit and a yogurt, or some sort of "cereal bar."

Anyway hope you can help with some suggestions!

A: Good question, sweet reader. You’re definitely moving in the right direction with fruit; portable, cheap, and healthy, it beats the everloving crud out of Go-gurt and its rainbow-colored kin. If you can pack a big ol’ fruit salad, it would provide a little variety, too. Sprinkle nuts on it for kicks.

Since you’re eating on the subway, I assume oatmeal and/or cereal are poor options. Do you mind baking? If you can set aside an hour or two every other week, you can do granola bars, muffins, or banana bread. It’d set you up for the whole month, and each piece will probably run you between $0.15 and $0.35. These Cranberry Zinger Muffins from Cooking with Amy are wonderful, and I remember digging Everybody Likes Sandwiches version of Chai-spiced Apple Oatmeal Bread very much.

Readers, beyond that, I throw the question to you. What are your favorite portable breakfasts? How do you eat on the go?

Want to ask the interweb a question? Post one in the comment section, or write to Cheaphealthygood@gmail.com. Then, tune in next Tuesday for an answer/several answers from the good people of the World Wide Net.

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Jesser said...

I have a friend who pre-makes egg sandwiches and keeps them in the freezer. You can either crack a whole egg or pour some scrambled egg into muffin tins (silicon would work well for this) and then bake until they set up. You can customize them to your tastes as well, adding spinach, salsa, cheese, etc. Then you put them on an English muffin, wrap and freeze. They can thaw in the fridge overnight. Same can be done w/ breakfast burritos.

Mariaa said...

Hi, this is my first time posting here. Love the blog :)

You can always look to McDonald's or other fast food chains for inspiration, then make your own version of what they have. For example, I like making breakfast burritos. My favorite uses scrambled eggs, shredded cheese, black beans and salsa, but you could put anything in them you like. Cook up a big batch of them, then freeze individually. All it takes in the morning is one or two minutes in the microwave and you're good to go.

Anonymous said...

If you have a little bit of freezer space you can make ahead and freeze breakfast burritos. I usually fill mine with scrambled eggs, black beans, cheese, and salsa. I wrap them in foil and freeze them. I take one out every evening to thaw in the fridge and they can be heated in the morning in the microwave or, if you have time, the oven. Obviously, take the foil off before putting in the microwave.

challenges2010 said...

Every workday morning I have a smoothie. Actually I make a double in my blender so I have one for lunch,too.

1 sc Protein Powder(initial cost sucks but per use is cheap)
1/3c oatmeal(I don't cook it)
1 Fruit(apple,berries,banana)
1/2c yogurt
1c water(more or less for desired consistency)

The Apple Hill Adventurer said...

I am all about the oatmeal. I will wake up 15 minutes earlier for it. Quick oats are great! 1/2 cup of oats, handful of fruit, dash of salt, and 1 cup of water in the microwave for 1 1/2 minutes and you have a healthy filling breakfast! I usually top it with some yogurt and chopped nuts too.

If you cant spend the time making it, I would advise a piece of fruit and some kind of fruit and nut bar or a granola bar that is mostly made of whole foods and oats.

I am just too much of a breakfast person to be able to eat it on the run haha. I will always make time :) it is worth it, to me anyways :)

Kimberly said...

I was coming to mention the same as Jesser - breakfast sandwiches made ahead. A breakfast fritatta would work too, to make it more portable you could pop it in a pita.

A big batch of oatmeal (the steel cut kind) would work, but it's less portable.

wosnes said...

I think breakfast is highly overrated. In many areas of the world, breakfast is the least important meal of the day.

There are many days when I don't eat breakfast. When I do, it's often just in season fruit. A "big" breakfast is the fruit, toast and coffee. I do make my own granola and will sometimes combine that with some Greek yogurt. I'd eat that with the fruit and forget the toast.

I like most breakfast foods, just not first thing in the morning. 11-ish is the first time I'd consider eating them!

ktoth04 said...

Hrm, I don't know if this counts as 'healthy' or 'good'... but mostly I can't be bothered to do anything in the morning. My standard breakfast is an eggo (which i stick in the toaster, and grab plain, and walk around and munch on while I'm getting ready) with a piece of fruit which i eat when I get to work.

Eggo's are low calorie and cheap, but healthy... probably not. I enjoy them though, and they work for me.

panaili said...

My roommate tends to eat on the go a lot, mostly because she has problems eating anything right away in the morning. She has a pretty good system: when she gets up, she puts two eggs on the pot to hard boil, and by the time she's ready to go, the eggs are ready. (You can do it the night before, too.) She'll also grab a banana. She eats them when she gets to work.

On a personal note -- and most people probably won't want to hear it -- I think that getting up a little earlier to have a fresh breakfast is well worth the sacrifice of time. I completely understand feeling pressured for time in the morning -- I'm active duty military, so my time in the morning is very strictly limited. However, I started waking up just 15 minutes earlier every day, and that gave me enough time to be able to make a fresh, healthy breakfast. (I went from waking up at 5am to 4:45am.) It was kind of tough at first, but once it became habit, it was easy, and I didn't feel so pressed for time.

Quick breakfasts are a great option, but I think if you have the ability to eat a sit-down breakfast at home -- and can do so simply by waking up a little early --, it's a better choice to get into that habit, so that quick breakfasts can be for when something unusual pops up.

Alexis said...

Oatmeal is probably one of the most cost-effective breakfasts I've tried. Sometimes I'll make a huge batch on Sundays for the whole week, and just reheat and take it in a tupperware.

I'm currently doing "green monsters" for breakfast: I either make them that morning (takes less than 5 minutes) or the night before (and leave it in the fridge). I drink it on the way to work, and it keeps me full until lunch! Blend 1 banana, 1-2 c spinach, 1 T protein powder, 1 c milk and some water. Sounds weird, but it tastes good -- and is quick and pretty inexpensive.

MM said...

I go with fruit; I buy tangerines and bananas in bulk, and just grab a couple and stick them in my coat pocket on the way out the door.

(By the way, before that kid gets out of college he should learn to take it easy on the parentheses.)

Mark said...

I like a simple fruit & protein shake.
For $20 I just bought a Cuisinart Magic Stick hand held blender. Comes with a mixer cup.

Frozen packaged fruit (all sorts of berries, peaches, etc.). I throw in a bit of those, a half to whole banana, a spoonful of almond butter, a scoop of sugar free whey protein and a bit of water or milk for consistency.

The great thing is that it is fast with minimal clean up, it's healthy, and you can experiment with mixtures and quantities. I never measure any of it except the protein powder.

Throw it in a cup or leave it in the mixer cup and you're out the door. Tastes amazing too.

Rebecca said...

Breakfast burritos.. scramble eggs adding in whatever you like... veggies, bacon, ham, cheese, etc. Roll into healthy tortilla and hit the road. This can even be done a head of time in batches. Make a bunch, roll them up and set out on tray in freezer. After frozen then wrap them and when ready to go pop in micro and take it with you.

galnoir said...

How about a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole grain bread?

carrie murphy said...

this is not a very portable breakfast, but it is fast and good. break 2-3 eggs in a bowl, add a little milk, whisk. add some spinach, onions, tomatoes, etc--then microwave on high for 1 min 30 sec. take out, mix and add some cheddar or mexican cheese, pop back in the microwave for 30-45 seconds.

a super fast and healthy breakfast with protein and vegetables.

check out my blog about eating as a poor student at masteroffineeats.blogspot.com

jamie said...

I like to make two or three extra servings of cream of wheat in the evening, and have it in the fridge in single serving bowls. I usually add dried cranberries and maple syrup while still warm. Nuke it in the morning and you're good to go.

jimgrey said...

Peanut butter sandwich on whole-wheat bread, plus fruit of your choice. Protein and fiber, fills you up all morning. Easy to fix, portable, and not messy.

limecloud said...

I always make extra waffles or pancakes over the weekend (it's really easy to double or triple the recipe when you already have all of the stuff out) and freeze the extras individually. When I'm running out the door in the morning I pull one of those out, pop them in the microwave for 30sec or so and run on out the door- easy, cheap, quick and healthy

Lorena said...

I actually make my sister a breakfast sandwich everyday for breakfast -- she's a nurse on the early shift. Since it's early, it has to be easy and quick, especially since I'm usually still groggy. I'll toast a whole wheat English muffin, beat an egg and nuke it in a microwave-safe bowl for a minute, and slice up some colby jack cheese. Once that's done, I quickly warm up (about 10 seconds) a slice of ham in the microwave. I put it altogether and wrap it in foil; my sister eats it when she gets to the hospital. You can customize this easily, too, by adding spinach or tomatoes to the sandwich (or the egg), or deleting the meat (like I do). This also works for breakfast burritos. Another quick breakfast are homemade oatmeal packets that I'll eat at work, or a fruity green smoothie that I can sip on the train and at my desk (I like pineapple, a frozen banana, flax seeds, some water and spinach in mine). Otherwise, PB&J is always a fast and easy option, while giving you some fat, protein, carbs and fiber -- key components that help you feel full and get you going in the morning.

KitschenBitsch said...

I'm with Alexis and Challenge2010. A smoothie made the night before and stashed in a travel mug (my preference is a mason jar) can be grabbed on the way out and sipped in transit.

If you can use a spoon and it's only time that's the issue, try overnight oatmeal -- I ate this the first six months at my new job when I was adjusting to leaving the house at 6 a.m., a time I was previously just getting to sleep. Put oats, water or milk and toppings (mine and CHG's stovetop oat recipes can be adapted for this) into a container with a lid. Stir, cover, and refrigerate. The next morning, the oats will be soft and have absorbed all the liquid and you can eat them cold or nuke them. (I love them cold, especially pumpkin oatmeal. It's like pudding!)

My final recommendation is what my mom ate on Weight Watchers in the 80s (but it's good!) -- mix cottage cheese, chopped banana, and cinnamon and put in half a pita pocket.

Good luck!

Anne said...

I've never tried it, but I love the idea of mini (muffin tin) frittatas. Single serving size, easily eaten hot or cold. Slap it on an english muffin with a slice of cheese for a breakfast sandwich.

Avlor said...

On the go breakfasts for our family:
- muffins (these can be frozen and defrosted as you need them)
- yogurt with dry cereal to put in it for crunchies
- banana bread or other quick breads (butter two slices and put the buttered sides together) and fruit (dried or fresh)
- boiled egg and bacon

Other ideas could be
- homemade granola bars
- homemade breads

ATTW said...

I am guy in the office who makes a bunch of oatmeal and dried fruit in advanced and takes it on the road. I have about 5 days worth in my desk at any given week. This is the best way for me to have it on hand if I don't get it in my gullet on the way out of the house.

Amy said...

Vitatops!!! They're available from Amazon.com (or at some local grocers) in a bunch of great flavors, they're 100 calories each, they are portable and SUPER filling (lots of fiber). A Vitatop and a cup of coffee are plenty to keep me happy until lunch.

(I'm not affiliated, etc. Just a fan.)

I also like Chex Mix Granola Bars (Turtle being my favorite) but they don't "stick with you" the way the Vitatops do.

A piece of string cheese and an apple?


Daniel said...

My ideal on-the-go breakfast is two boiled eggs.

You can cook them while you're in the shower (of course that's assuming you can take a shower in exactly 10 minutes--or 9 if you want a slightly softer egg!). You can eat them right away, or leave them in their shells and carry them with you for a free moment later in the morning.

They are inexpensive, very energy-dense, and they'll keep you full for a long while.

Casual Kitchen

Anonymous said...

Along the lines of granola bars, baked oatmeal can be made up ahead of time. The recipe calls for it to be served hot but I found it to be pretty tasty just eaten out of the pan, sliced into bars. I tweaked a recipe online, using applesauce instead of oil, and less sugar than the recipe called for. You can also add in peanut butter, pumpkin, dried fruit, etc.

My other ahead of time breakfast is South Beach Diet's mini quiches - egg substitute, chopped onion, a package of drained frozen spinach, and shredded cheese, also baked in muffin tins until the eggs set.

Mike said...

I have been eating the South Beach Diet Protein Bars for breakfast. Good ratios of carbs to protein to fat. Sometimes I'll add a piece of fruit.

Beki said...

Lots of people have mentioned oatmeal, but there is another way that is as portable as can be! Put some quick oats (with sugar, syrup or jam if you like) into a coffee travel mug and then add twice as much near-boiling water as a standard recipe. Stir it up, slap on the lid, and run. It's filling and can be drank, so no need for the spoon!

Fern said...

Ha! I'm glad I'm not the only person who eats cold overnight oatmeal. I usually add some fruit in the morning, a few sliced almonds, a tiny bit of fake sugar, and a dash of vanilla. Dessert for breakfast! If I can't find decent looking fresh fruit, I add a little chopped dried fruit when I'm soaking the oatmeal. It's also nice if you use half yogurt and half milk for soaking.

Anonymous said...

He's a hungry guy on the go! He's not cooking anything...that said, two minute breakfast for you- flour tortilla+schmear of peanut butter (oooh, or nutella!) +whole bannana, wrap it around the banana, you won't be hungry til lunch and its yummy room temp, shove into a baggie and munch on the subway!

Allie said...

I second (third, fourth...) the frozen breakfast burritos. I think I actually found the link on this blog: http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2009/02/20/bulk-breakfast-burritos-convenient-cheap-healthy-and-easier-than-you-think/. My husband LOVES them, and 2 minutes in the microwave is all you need before running out the door. I also love a toaster waffle with a smear of peanut butter for an on-the-go snack.

eatclosetohome said...

Not frozen: INSTANT breakfast sandwiches! Crack and egg into a microwavable bowl. Add a bit of whatever...like omelet fillings, salsa, leftover meat, spices...scramble it and nuke for a minute. Slide onto whatever bread product you like and eat it on the run!

Amy said...

I love making smoothies for breakfast. The easiest way I've found is to blend NakedBrand fruit juice, milk, a whole banana, protein powder and ice. This is the recipe used for Starbucks Vivannos, and you can modify the type of juice used to make different flavors.

CJ said...

I'm a big fan of wraps, burritos, etc. made ahead, the warmed in the oven before you hit the road.

As mentioned by many here, cook some crustless quiche in cupcake pan or square dish. (Any variation of an egg-vegetable-cheese if you want it...) Or make a fritatta. When cool, cut into serving sized or strips to tuck into a pita, tortilla, wrap or two slices of toast.
Grab a piece of fruit and some yogurt/nuts/dry cereal/granola bar for quick mid-day snacking.
Fill a small bottle with some juice or milk.

Don't forget the wonders of an english muffin or bagel with a little cream cheese, slice of tomato, maybe a slice of ham or what ever you want on it.

Anonymous said...

Try "Night Before Muesli"... put 1/2 c oats (not instant), 1/3 c milk, 1/3 c plain yogurt in a tupperware container. Mix well, leave overnight. In the morning, add whatever you want to zing it up - dried fruits, flavored yogurt, fresh fruits (grated apple??), spices... Then just take the container on the subway with you! Excellent (read: FAST) breakfast with 13g of protein (I used skim milk, nonfat yogurt) and 5g of fiber!
PS- LOVE the blog!

Sarah said...

I'll ditto the mini quiches in muffin tins. You make 'em on the weekend and fridge/freeze them and microwave on the way out the door. Totally portable and totally easy!

eatclosetohome said...

Corn tortillas spread with refried beans, cheese, and salsa. Nuke or toast in toaster oven.