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Confession: I have never exactly been a “breakfast person.” Sure, I love a gooey cinnamon roll as much as the next person, and I’ve housed my share of cereal boxes during college. It’s not the breakfast food that is the deterrent for me — breakfast food is great! Feeling alert and coordinated enough to cobble together a meal before my coffee kicks in? That’s another story.
Back when I worked in an office, I circumvented this with a routine: I made a point to get a bowl of oatmeal from the building cafeteria at my old job shortly after I arrived each morning. Once I started working from home, though, I found that it was difficult to remember to make myself breakfast each morning. More often than not, I’d look up around 11 a.m. and wonder why I was so grumpy. Oh, right, I’d think. You skipped breakfast again.
Plenty of studies back up the conventional wisdom that breakfast is the “most important” meal of the day, but just as many are likely inconclusive. As Andrea Dunn, RD, noted to the Cleveland Clinic’s Health Essentials blog, it’s more important to listen to “hunger cues” than it is to eat something by a certain hour of the day. “The term ‘breakfast’ means breaking the fast,” she said. “And at some point in our day, all of us do that, whether it’s at 7 a.m. or noon. […] What you eat over the whole day is more important than stressing over breakfast.”
Even so, I was tired of ignoring or missing my body’s hunger cues, and set out to find ways to make breakfast work for me. Here are six easy habits that helped banish the morning grumpies and helped me feel more capable in my kitchen, no matter the hour.
You’ve certainly heard of having breakfast for dinner, but what about having dinner for breakfast? As food historian Abigail Carroll explained to Smithsonian Magazine in 2013, the evolution of what Americans consider to be “breakfast food” has a lot to do with the Industrial Revolution, and entrepreneurs marketing their foods as being particularly good to eat in the morning. But there’s no stopping you from eating last night’s leftovers for breakfast — so now, whenever I have extra, I tend to grab and reheat that for breakfast.
2. Stock your kitchen ahead of time.
Whether you keep a batch of hard-boiled eggs in the fridge or store plenty of cereal for a goof-proof breakfast, it’s worth making sure you have what you need to throw something together, whether you’re craving a sweet or savory breakfast. My roommate and I keep a communal container of oatmeal on hand and out in the open — she’s also a fan of toaster waffles for easy morning breakfasts.
3. Aim to eat at a certain time every morning.
If you’re really listening to your body’s hunger cues, it might take a while to for your body to get the memo that you’re now a “breakfast person.” To ease myself into the breakfast habit, I started setting an alarm on my phone for 10:30 a.m., which was the new time I’d get up and make breakfast. A week later, I reset the alarm to 10:00 a.m., and then to 9:30, and finally 9:00, which feels reasonable to my schedule. Some days I still use the alarm as a reminder to eat, while others go by and I disable the alarm because I’ve already eaten.
4. Embrace the breakfast smoothie pack.
If you’re looking to up your servings of fruit and vegetables, why not follow Kitchn editor Jesse Szewczyk’s lead and make individual-sized freezer packs filled with smoothie ingredients? It couldn’t be easier than pulling a bag out of your freezer, adding the liquid of your choice, and blending away. If you want to outsource the prep step or explore creative flavors, you can order smoothie kits from Daily Harvest and other retailers; I bought a smoothie-kit box through Juice Press as a subscription-free alternative.
5. Get into the habit of “shutting down” your kitchen the night before.
Apartment Therapy and Kitchn contributor Shifrah Combiths swears by “shutting down” her kitchen every night, which means she wakes up to a clean kitchen that anyone can use. There are few things less appealing than a grimy kitchen countertop, and I’ve found that entering a kitchen in which my dishes from the night before are already dried and put away, and the stovetop is clean and ready for my use instantly puts me in a better mood. Thanks, past me!
6. When in doubt, embrace the delivery breakfast.
Ordering takeout can be costly, but on special mornings like birthdays or days when you just can’t, there are plenty of restaurants that are more than happy to help you fulfill your breakfast quest. I live in New York City, where the bodega-supplied baconeggandcheese reigns supreme, but you can hunt around for a local option that opens early for either curbside pickup or delivery. Just remember to order from the restaurant directly if you can. (And if all else fails? Well, there’s always the Starbucks drive-through.)