Real Talk

My Kids Are Incredibly Picky. Here's What They Actually Eat For Breakfast.

It’s supposed to be the most important meal of the day, so I put a lot of pressure on myself to make sure my kids eat well.

by Lauren Davidson
Ariela Basson/Fatherly; Getty Images, Shutterstock
Rise & Shine

Breakfast may be the toughest meal at our house. For lunch, we have seemingly endless kid-friendly options: mac and cheese, grilled cheese, noodle soup, and the occasional drive-thru run.

And for dinner, we’ve created a pretty steady routine: We usually serve a protein, vegetable, and side dish in hopes our kids will get a balanced meal, and we keep a few kid-friendly alternatives — slices of cheese or ham, raw vegetables cut up — on hand if someone simply cannot be convinced to try what’s offered.

But breakfast is tough. It has to be quick and easy, and it has to be something the kids can gobble down in the car if we’re running late (which, to be honest, we almost always are). We also have four kids of varying ages and school levels, which means we’re not all in the same place at the same time. It’s also been drilled into our heads that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, making it feel really high stakes. So what do we serve?

One option comes courtesy of the grandparents, who make amazing homemade waffles, carefully sneaking strawberries, blueberries or apples into the mixture, and then freezing them for my kids. All we parents have to do is pop them in the toaster and add a little Nutella or syrup. My kids love “grandma-pap’s waffles'' but need other options too.

Sadly, all four of our kids have rejected oatmeal, which would be so easy, offering whole grains mixed in with any fruit you can think of.

Our 7-year-old favors savory breakfast foods, so I’ve tried various egg dishes. On weekends, he’s happy with scrambled eggs or mini-quiches, but my attempts to cook them in batches ahead of time and distribute them throughout the week have failed; they come out soggy and inedible. Hard-boiled eggs are successful, but hard to sell on a regular basis. He’ll eat a frozen breakfast sandwich, but he’s rejected frozen breakfast wraps, and I rejected breakfast bowls after he asked if I could pick all of the potatoes out of them.

The rest of our kids prefer sweet breakfast foods, because in what world would all four acquiesce to the same food? Not this one. Cereal is usually our go-to; the trick is finding the happy medium between what they want (the most sugary, brightly colored options) and what I want them to want (not that). Cheerios usually deliver for us. Usually someone will eat the blueberry or strawberry varieties, and I feel good because there are whole grains and a fruit in the title.

Our fourth child gets away with pretty much anything just by virtue of being the baby in a family of six, so her breakfast is usually a bit of a free-for-all. If there are Lucky Charms in the house, she’s eating Lucky Charms for breakfast… but she’ll only eat the marshmallows. It’s a matter of time before she discovers that the store does sell packages of just the marshmallows.

The closest I’ve gotten to a one-size-fits-all breakfast food is homemade muffins. They’re easy (I enjoy baking and muffin add-ons, whether they’re aging bananas or frozen berries, are always in the house), and they’re easy to make healthy: substitute whole wheat flour, use egg whites, and mix in some rolled oats or flax seed.) Plus, I love muffins, and my tastes as an adult never evolved much from when I was a kid. So if there’s a breakfast food I like, I can assume my kids will, too.

I wish we had the force of will to get up just a little earlier to cook a full meal for breakfast like we do at dinnertime. But we survive each and every morning, and everyone eats something, so for now, I’ll consider it a win.