We’ve heard it more times than we can count: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Breakfast is our fuel and controls the way we feel all morning long as well as the rest of the day. The problem isn’t that we don’t understand that concept by now, it’s that most of us struggle with finding healthy breakfast ideas that we can find the time to prepare, enjoy, and actually fit into our schedules on hectic mornings.
That’s where healthy, portable breakfast ideas come into play, and no, we’re not just talking donuts and pastries from the Starbucks drive-thru as tasty as those portable options might be!
There are several healthy, portable breakfast ideas you can carry with you to the office each day that don’t require lots of time to prepare or even take long to eat. Overall, you want to aim for a meal that provides a nice balance of protein, fiber, and doesn’t contain high amounts of saturated fat.
So whether you’re out of ideas, bored with your current breakfast menu, not eating at all, or are trying to eat a healthier breakfast, here are three winning portable breakfast ideas to consider:
1. Protein-Packed Overnight Oats in a Mason Jar
Benefits of This Choice:
Protein is your best friend for healthy portable breakfast ideas! It keeps you alert, stabilizes your blood sugar, and is also a great choice if you’re looking to lose or maintain your weight. Protein helps fight off junk food cravings as well as burns more calories during digestion than carbohydrates or fat do. However, don’t reach for the bacon just yet! Overnight oats can be a better choice, but it’s important to add some protein to this meal.
Tips to Make the Most of This Meal:
Choose something light and lean as your protein source such as nonfat (plain) Greek yogurt or a low-fat and no sugar added protein powder. Also, aim to get most of your carbohydrates from high-fiber foods in the morning versus foods that contain little to no fiber. Oatmeal is a great choice because it’s high in fiber and low in excessive carbs that will spike your blood sugar levels so long as you use the plain varieties.
How to Make Protein-Packed Overnight Oats in a Mason Jar:
In order to get the benefits of fiber and protein, make a jar of overnight oats the night before by layering the following in a mason jar or another cup of choice:
- ½ cup rolled oats, quick oats, or oat bran (all will work fine)
- 1 cup (or 6 ounces) of nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
- 1 scoop your favorite protein powder (vanilla whey isolate or a plant-based option goes great here!)
- 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds (for fiber and omega-3’s)
- ½ cup frozen berries
- Optional: your choice no calorie sweetener such as stevia and some cinnamon
- ½ cup non-dairy milk
Give everything a good stir once you’ve added it in, pop it in the fridge, and you can either eat it on the train to work, on the road, or you can eat it when you get to the office. The oats will have soaked up in the yogurt to create a comforting porridge while the frozen berries release their juices overnight to create a natural sweetness.
Other fruits are fine to use in this recipe, but berries (or apples) are best since they don’t spike your blood sugar levels quite as much as some other fruits can. Ground flax also offers fiber and omega-3’s to help keep you full, and cinnamon can stabilize your blood sugar levels even further as well as add a nice flavor. You should stay full for hours after this meal!
2. A Green Protein Smoothie/Shake
Benefits of This Choice:
A cold, creamy shake or smoothie can be incredibly refreshing first thing in the day, and it’s a great way to take in more produce and fresh foods before you even start your day. Many people also find they have more energy and focus, not to mention they feel lighter and healthier when drinking a smoothie or shake first thing in the day.
Tips to Make the Most of This Meal:
It’s important to consider how you make your smoothie or shake and what you include in it if you want to keep the recipe healthy. Do your best to include more greens than fruit to help keep your blood sugar stable, and be sure to add in some protein and a little healthy fat to your recipe.
Also, try to make your smoothie a little thicker rather than thin so it takes you more time to eat it. The slower you consume a smoothie or shake, the slower it will digest and better it will be for your blood sugar levels. You can even make it as thick as you would a smoothie bowl, pop it in a mason jar or thermos cup, and freeze it while you get ready in the morning. Then come back and enjoy eating it on your way to work with a spoon. It’s like enjoying a soft-serve version of a smoothie!
Here’s how to Make a Green Protein Smoothie/Shake:
Add the following to a high-speed blender:
- 2 cups loose spinach (you can also keep this frozen during storage to help it last longer)
- 1 cup frozen berries
- 1 scoop your favorite protein powder (whey isolate or a plant-based option work well here)
- 1 cup your choice plain yogurt (plain coconut yogurt or plain Greek yogurt are good choices)
- 1 tablespoon chia or flax for omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and fiber
- Optional ingredients to make it creamier: frozen zucchini, ½ a frozen banana, ¼ an avocado or puréed pumpkin
- Pinch of liquid or powdered stevia (or your favorite no calorie sweetener)
- Add-ins of choice: superfoods you may enjoy, cinnamon or other spices, etc.
- ½ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
- ½ cup water
- 5-6 ice cubes
Blend on low, then progress to high and add more ice to make it thicker if you want to. Scrape into a mason jar or thermos, and enjoy either with a straw or spoon.
3. Homemade Protein-Rich Breakfast Bars
Benefits of This choice:
This healthy breakfast idea does require a bit of preparation ahead of time, but it takes no more than 30 minutes to complete on a weekend, and then you’ll have healthy breakfast bars all week long to enjoy. Plus, it contains sources of fiber and protein shown to reduce high blood sugar levels as well as high blood pressure.
Tips to Make the Most of This Meal:
Remember that when you make healthy breakfast bars, you want to be sure that you’re not adding lots of sweeteners like honey and maple syrup. Those may a bit more nutritionally dense than white sugar, but per tablespoon, they still contain 16 grams of sugar just like regular sugar. Your body doesn’t know the difference when it comes to your blood sugar levels, and it’s overall best to avoid liquid and added sugars when you can.
Always choose whole foods to sweeten your foods with when possible, or resort to a natural, no calorie sweetener like stevia as another option. You’ll also want to add ingredients to your homemade bars that contain some protein and fiber, which are key nutrients to focus on at breakfast.
Here’s a great recipe for Homemade Protein-Rich Breakfast Bars that is cost effective and perfect for on-the-go meals:
- 1 cup rolled or quick oats or quinoa flakes if you don’t eat oats
- ¼ cup chia seeds or ground flax seeds
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 scoop your favorite protein powder (whey isolate or a plant-based option is great here)
- 5 ounces (one small cup) your favorite plain yogurt such as plain coconut or plain Greek yogurt
- ½ cup egg whites or an egg replacer product
- 1 tsp. alcohol-free vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, or apple pie spice
- ½ cup fresh or frozen blueberries
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- Optional: ¼ cup your favorite chopped nuts, raisins or unsweetened, dried cranberries
- Add all the following to a bowl, and stir well to incorporate. You should not need to add any liquid since the batter should be thick.
- Spray a 9×9 inch baking pan with nonstick spray or lightly grease it with coconut oil and wipe off the excess oil with a paper towel.
- Pour the batter into the pan, and spread out nice and evenly. You can even sprinkle on some extra cinnamon if you want.
- You have two options to cook these bars: Microwave for 6:30 seconds or bake for 22-25 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Let the bars cool for an hour or so, and then cut into 12 squares.
- Pre-portion the bars in plastic baggies or another container, and enjoy one or two each day with some fruit for breakfast and some black coffee or tea.
Other Healthy, Portable Breakfast Ideas:
If you’re not in the mood to make anything first thing in the day for breakfast, (or you just don’t have time to prepare anything due to emergencies or other circumstances), here are some other great options that require less preparation:
- 1 apple and 2 hard-boiled eggs
- 1 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt, a piece of fruit, and a to-go packet or plain peanut or almond butter to add to the yogurt (add a no-calorie sweetener to the yogurt if needed)
- Drive-thru oatmeal and coffee – Most fast food restaurants have plain oatmeal on their menu now. Just be sure to get your oatmeal without added sugar, and sweeten with your favorite no-calorie sweetener and some cinnamon. Bring a piece of fruit with you in your bag and eat the oatmeal with that and enjoy it with some black coffee. This meal lacks protein, so if you have the option of adding side of egg whites or plain nuts, that would help balance it out a bit. This meal idea is still a great sugarless, on-the-go option.
- 1 Hard-boiled egg, 1 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt, and 1 apple
- 1 pack of plain 100 calorie almonds, a plain cup of yogurt, and your choice fruit
- 1 container of ½ cup of low-fat or fat-free cottage cheese and a piece of fruit
- 2 Hardboiled eggs with a pint of grape tomatoes and 1 cup of baby carrots
As you can see, there are lots of options you can enjoy first thing during the day to ensure you have a healthy, portable breakfast with you any day of the week. The main goal each morning is to consume protein, fiber, and small amounts of fat first thing during the day. This combination sets you up for healthy blood sugar levels, better focus, and can even keep your heart healthy and help you manage your weight more easily.
Give these healthy, portable breakfast ideas a try this week and explore combinations that work best for you. You may just have a more productive day at work, which is never a bad thing, right?