The Most Important Meal of the Day

— Written By Jeannie Leonard and last updated by Jill Cofer
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Oatmeal for breakfast

We have always been told that breakfast was the most important meal of the day and believe it or not, research shows she was right! Studies have shown that when children have breakfast, they are more alert and participate more fully in the day’s activities.

Breakfast is a very simple meal and does not have to be time consuming or costly to prepare. To make breakfast easy, use the guidance from

Eat foods from the grain group (bread, cereal, rice, or pasta), selecting whole grains when possible. Make sure to have a source of protein (cheese, meat, egg, peanut butter) and limited to 4-6 ounces per day.

Fresh fruit or a glass of fruit juice (no more than 4 ounces per day) is a healthy “fast food”. Children need 2 to 3 cups of milk every day. Breakfast is a good time to drink milk or have other dairy products such as yogurt and cheese.

Busy parents or caregivers who are looking for ways to regain control of their family life can claim breakfast as a time to be together with their children.

Breakfast is a great time for families to check schedules, share words of advice, or discuss an upcoming event. A good breakfast will get everyone in the family started off on the right foot for the day.

For a Great Breakfast, Try Putting a Few of These Foods Together

  • Cereal with 1% milk or nonfat milk
  • Whole wheat bread, English muffins, pita bread, or bagels
  • Peanut butter on whole wheat bread or crackers
  • Eggs
  • 100% fruit juice
  • Fresh fruit
  • Low-fat cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
  • Low-fat yogurt with fresh fruit

Break Away from Traditional “Breakfast” Foods

Many foods can be included in a nutritious breakfast. Try some of the following with a glass of milk for a quick, nutritious breakfast:

  • Turkey or chicken sandwich with fruit
  • Spaghetti with tomato sauce
  • Peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat toast
  • Cornbread with applesauce
  • Tuna on toast and fruit
  • Grilled cheese and fruit
  • Macaroni and cheese with fruit
  • Egg sandwich and fruit
  • Low-fat yogurt with fruit or granola
  • Low-fat cottage cheese with fruit
  • Celery stuffed with peanut butter
  • Frozen waffles, pancakes, or French toast with applesauce topping
  • Try different breads such as bagels, low-fat muffins, English muffins, pita bread, whole wheat bread, or rolls.
  • Use a variety of fruits in season: grapes, bananas, apples, kiwi, berries, grapefruits, oranges, tangerines, or melons