Education Week: Help! My Slow Eater Needs Fast Breakfast

Cooking and Recipes GeekMom
I made these with molds from Williams Sonoma. They don't have them anymore, but they do have Cars and Star Wars themed pancake molds.

On a lazy Saturday morning, we pour pancake batter into molds. On an industrious Saturday morning, we might drizzle it by hand onto the griddle in the shapes of the Enterprise and a battling Klingon vessel. On weekday mornings, I’m thankful that day care feeds my kids breakfast right after I drag them out of bed and drop them off–until last week.

Last week kindergarten started. The bus leaves day care headed for school before they get breakfast. That means I need to feed my kindergartner. That means I need help.

Pancakes are great. They’re reasonably quick and delicious. But my kids can make a pancake–or any plate of food–last half the day. They’re both slow eaters. If I tried to serve a bowl of cereal before school tomorrow, I’d be dropping her off at her first day of college by the time she finished it.

That means I need fast food in the actual sense of speed, not as in McDonald’s. I was raised to shun prepared foods, but the box of frozen Eggos is looking better and better. It’s quick to cook, and worst case, reasonably solid in its toasted crispiness so that she could take it along in the car.

I’m not a fan of Pop Tarts (which seem more like dessert, at best) or those cereal bars with the mysterious milk-replacing goo in them. I’m of the radical opinion that food should be made of… well, food. But real food is rarely fast, and thus I find my morning Scylla and Charybdis.

Mommies of slow eaters, help me out. How do I either convince my kids to eat a plate of food before the next meal begins or get a decent breakfast in them (at least the one who has to go to school) quickly?

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18 thoughts on “Education Week: Help! My Slow Eater Needs Fast Breakfast

  1. Haven’t tried them, but I know Alton Brown has a home made “Pop Tart” recipe. I think it is in his “I’m Just Here For More Food” backing book, and in a Good Eats episode so it should be on FoodNetwork.com. Since you would be in control of the ingredients you could make them less desert like and they would likely be a lot healthier than the store bought

  2. As I type this I am baking muffins for my preschooler who is still zonked-out sleeping and needs to leave for school in half an hour. He’ll probably have to eat it on the run, but at least he CAN eat it on the run!

  3. Toasted sandwiches on whole wheat bread, bagels or english muffins are a breakfast staple at my house. Plain cheese, cheese and egg, cheese and leftover turkey, chicken or ham. The possibilities are endless. Breakfast doesn’t have to be pancakes and eggs. Whatever can’t be eaten before bus time gets tossed into a baggie to eat on the way. I don’t know how old your kids are, but when mine were younger and a whole sandwich was too much, I would feed them half and put the other half in the fridge for an after-school snack.

  4. I was going to suggest those pancake/sausage corndog on a stick things, but they’re probably fried if you make them at home. So what about making little…breakfast hot dogs in a bun style things? Put halved sausage links in a biscuit, maybe with some scrambled egg, fold them over and bake. You could make a bunch and then freeze them, stick them in baggies so kids can pop them in their mouths where ever they are. Like pizza rolls, but for breakfast! (I actually think I’m going to make these today. Cereal gets dull on a daily basis!)

  5. I have to eat on the run so I usually make granola bars on the weekend to grab-and-go during the week. Usually the bar is part of a breakfast/morning snack that includes:
    – A smoothie, made the night before and kept in the freezer until right before I walk out of the house
    – A granola bar
    – Fruit

    As a slow eater, I like to cut my food up into bite sized pieces so that way I eat as much as possible for the time allowed. Then leftovers can be packed away until mid-morning snack.

  6. you can make a whole bunch of waffles and freeze them yourself, if the Eggos are too much. Treat them like toaster waffles. You can also use the toaster for your premade french toast or pancakes.

    Smear them with peanut butter for a protein

  7. Once a week we get out tortillas, peanut butter, and nutella. We make “peanut butter tacos” for the picky-eater-boy (tortilla with a reasonable amount of peanut butter for protein and a smear of nutella so he thinks he’s eating chocolate for breakfast), wrap in saran wrap, pop into a ziploc bag, and freeze. We have grab-n-go breakfast for a week then – we pull one out the night before & throw it in the fridge, then he grabs it on his way out to the bus in the morning.

  8. we’re big fans of muffins in our house. We can make a batch on the weekend and then toss them in tupperware for during the week. The other possibility is that you can make belgian waffles and freeze them, then pop them in the toaster each morning. Put pb on them for some topping if you’d like an extra kick.

  9. Sweet jeebus keep the suggestions coming. My oldest daughter will plow through breakfast as fast as she can in order to get some playtime in before she gets taken to 1st grade. My youngest, who is in daycare, is a slow, slow eater.

    I am trying to convince my wife to just drop her off at daycare with breakfast and let the daycare lady fight over it.

  10. I second the idea to make a bunch of pancakes, waffles, granola bars… ahead of time. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, too. Cheese, hard boiled eggs, a PB and J sandwich are all portable and really can fill the tummy.
    I have a slow eater and it was making mornings unbearable! I was yelling and we were all getting frustrated.
    We had to institute a reward system. Very important is to not put this all on the child. I laid it out like this: My job is to make sure you have a good quick breakfast available to you. Your job is to eat it in a reasonable amount of time so you can get to school on time. We would set the timer and when breakfast was done it was done. If he finished his meal he got a sticker. At the end of the week the stickers could get traded in for some extra video game time, a special meal or staying up a little late on the weekend.
    For the “but you can’t send them to school if they haven’t had enough to eat” argument: Kindergarteners usually get a morning snack (check with your teacher) I always backed a really satisfying snack. Maybe another waffle with PB and J or cheese sticks, something that would really fill the void…but also equally quick!
    Hope this helps!

  11. Another direction to address is some kind of reward for eating fairly quickly.

    At our house, if we have limited time (or patience) something like “if you eat your food within 10 minutes you can have 5 minutes to play a game on my smartphone in the car.”

  12. I’ve made versions of Pigs in Blankets with mini sausages and crescent roll dough, stuffed muffins with corn muffin mix, cheese and crumbled bacon, and also fruity versions of the stuffed muffins with fresh fruits and cream cheese, and also PB&J graham cracker sammies. My kids (age 12 and 4) love all of them and eat them up quickly, specially if they are bite-size or finger-food to-go!

  13. Breakfast round here tends to be mostly yogurt paired with things that can be packed up in a plastic bag when the slow eaters don’t finish it all: cinnamon toast, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, muffins and quick breads. Other things that pack nicely into a bag to take along when you’re rushing out the door: raisins, granola, nuts, string cheese, cheese cubes, apple slices dusted with cinnamon sugar to hide the browning.

    One of our favorite breakfasts is peanut butter tortillas: spread two tablespoons of peanut butter and a half teaspoon of your favorite flavor of jelly on a whole wheat tortilla.

    I make whole wheat pumpkin muffins with oats and ground nuts for extra nutritional punch. I do find that most muffin recipes use too little oil and dry out after a day. I double the oil and use healthy options like olive oil or coconut oil.

  14. Ive used carnation instant breakfast with soy milk and we start it shortly after she gets up and sh finishes it shortly before we get to day care

  15. So many good ideas here! I am BIG on protein in the mornings. Egg variations are a go to, PB works in a pinch. Yogurt is great, if there’s time — it is hard to take on the go since you need a spoon.

    Here’s a couple quickies that we do:
    – make ahead mini-quiches. I can do these on the weekend. line muffin pans with pies crust and pour in scrambled eggs. then fill with cheese, sausage, bacon bits, spinach (my younger daughter loves this) or whatever you have. Keep in the frig and warm in the morning for 30 seconds.

    – egg salad and sausage sandwich. I make a batch of egg salad (4-5 servings worth) and a whole package of sausage. keep separate and covered in the frig. In the morning I toast some bread and slap the salad in there with 1-2 sausage links and we are good to go.

    – frozen pancakes. Double your weekend recipe and make a bunch when there’s time. pop in the toaster just like an eggo on Monday morning. (this is best with round ones, versus the intrcate shapes) schmear of PB and jelly or cream cheese or nutella or other protein source.

    – muffins are also great, of course. Just be sure to use a recipe that is high in protein so they (and you!) get through the morning.

    Also, make sure you are modeling good breakfast habits! ( Do I sound like a mom, or what? )

    all the best,
    Jen

  16. Plop them in the car with a banana,apple, or some orange segments. If you’re looking to feed them “food-food”, than what is better than whole fruits or maybe some kind of protein. There isn’t a rule about what kinds of foods have to be eaten for breakfast. My husband has walked in on me eating a chicken leg left from last night’s dinner before.

  17. My little guy isn’t in school yet, but he loves having yogurt and waffles in the morning. I keep some organic “tubes” of yogurt (like go-gurt) in the freezer so they’re less likely to make a mess as well as mini waffles that just go in the toaster (also organic, for me). He now asks for jam on his waffles, too, and that makes him eat them even faster!

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