Healthy, portable breakfast ideas? Talk amongst yourselves.

Erika writes:

My 3-year-old is starting day care for the first time. I have to be at work very early, so we’ll be waiting at the door at 7AM for school to open everyday. In order to get out of the house this early, I’ll be sending her breakfast to school with her. My question is – I need some ideas for healthy, portable breakfasts that we can grab on the way out the door. Any suggestions would be much appreciated!

This is good info for everyone who has to run out the door in the morning, including slow-to-wake children. My favorite portable breakfast is oatmeal — it’s totally no-spill in the car (here’s the hack, including a link to DIY instant oatmeal packets). If her daycare has a microwave, it’s so easy for them to make it there.

You could pack up a bunch of reusable containers with cereal (mixed with slivered almonds and raisins if she’ll eat them) and send along a small container of milk.

Yogurt topped with cereal, granola, or nuts is another option.

Granola bars work in a pinch, but I never find them filling enough. Perhaps a granola bar, a banana, and some milk?

Anyone else have suggestions?


  1. says

    Even though our sitter is ready to feed our son breakfast every morning, giving him a little something seems to help him out the door. Here is some of what we have given him to eat during the ride to the sitters:
    * sippy cup of milk
    * small bowl of berries
    * small bowl of cut up watermelon
    * small bowl of grapes
    * special bread: either a bun, croissant or raisin bread (used to be frozen waffle occasionally, but we’ve cut it out)
    * raisins
    * apple
    * cheese and crackers

    Except for cutting up the watermelon, all easy to grab on the way out the door.

  2. says

    Make a bunch of breakfast muffins and freeze them. They thaw in seconds in the microwave, pack that and a banana and milk.

    If your daughter likes eggs you can make mini quiches and freeze them. Google “mini quiche” and you’ll see a ton of recipes.

    We like those small bagels you find in the bread aisle. They stay pretty soft so you can just make as sandwich of cream cheese and jelly you are good to go.

  3. Leslie says

    We freeze muffins and pancakes. My son loves the traditional “Morning Glory” muffins – google the recipe. For pancakes, I add blueberries and/or chopped bananas. 30 seconds in the microwave for either and away we go.

  4. Brent M says

    I’m a stay-at-home Dad w/two kids under three. I like things that:

    1) aren’t messy (crumbly, wet, melty)
    2) can keep long enough for a few-hours adventure
    3) don’t cost an arm and a leg

    So, my favorite grab-and-go snacks are: chewy, fruity granola bars w/no chocolate or peanut butter that will melt; healthful cereal w/raisins; banana chips; dried blueberries or cranberries; mini whole wheat pretzels; non-crumbly crackers (don’t use R!tz); organic fruit strips from, as my son says, “Char-get”; dried apricots or mango slices; green seedless grapes; and if I know they’re going to eat it soon, I’ll give them individual servings of low-moisture, part-skim mozzarella cheese strips (The yellow cheeses get greasy.)

  5. Kate says

    As the parent of the kid with the peanut allergy, I just want to gently suggest at least a wipe-down before you send your nut-eating kids into school. On behalf of all the moms dropping off allergic kids for their first school experiences, Thanks.

  6. ikate says

    The new Kashi cereal bars and a banana is my 2 year olds on-the-move breakfast. It’s a bit messy (fruit filled bars) but not too bad.

  7. Liz says

    You don’t say if she’s going to be eating this breakfast in the car on the way to daycare, or at daycare; and whether the daycare is willing to heat things up for you – both of those questions make a big difference!

    My daughter not only didn’t mind eating cold toast, but actually preferred it that way. Put it in a baggie with buttered-sides together to avoid a horrendous mess.

    Hard-boiled eggs are handy – boil up a half-dozen on the weekend, then peel one and pop it in a baggie or tupperware.

    Apple slices and bananas are neat enough to be eaten even in the car.

    For super-fast service, make up in advance a batch of “Breakfast granola” – finger-food cereal (cheerios, chex, whatever your child likes), dried fruit (raisins, dried cranberries, banana chips), and (if you feel daring) crumbled pre-cooked bacon. Keep it in an air-tight container, then scoop out half a cup or so into a baggie or tupperware at need.

  8. says

    Don’t feel bound to traditional breakfast foods. A sandwich is a great, portable meal. If you want to stay breakfasty, scrambled egg sandwiches work well, with or without meat/cheese/veggies. Cook them fritatta-style, and there won’t be crumbly bits falling out all over the place. Peeled hardboiled eggs are also good. Just be sure to include protein – kids need protein along with their carbs.

  9. says

    ziploc bag of dry cereal, sippy with milk or oj or water or rice milk. We don’t do fruit around here much (Fructose Malabsorption), but when we do it is either clementine oranges or banana for the ‘in own handy storage unit’ thing, or a ziploc or container (blueberries, kiwi).

    That’s our main ‘breakfast on the go’ thing other than oatmeal, as noted.

  10. jen says

    Favorite toddler/preschooler breakfast ideas:

    frozen waffles/pancakes (I make extra pancakes on sunday and freeze individual ones for reheating all week);
    Cherrios and Milk (use old baby bottles for milk storage)
    Granola Bar and Yogurt
    Any other snack she seems to pull out at breakfast time.

    We’ve notice recently that my 2.5 yrold likes to decide what in her lunchbox is “breakfast”, and we all go along with it. Sure, I’d prefer she not eat the doritos for breakfast, but somewhere during the day, she also eats the sweet potato/flax pancake, so I try to be easy going. :)

  11. says

    We get the little mini-waffles. I cook them on the way out the door, and I let my daughter dip them into yogurt, instead of syrup. She really likes it!

  12. says

    Smoothies! For an on-the-go lunch or breakfast my family loves this simple recipe in our “Magic Bullet”:

    1 banana
    1 cup of fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt

    If you really want it to be filling (and a more nutritious to boot), use these substitutions:

    1 banana
    silken tofu (instead of or in addition to yogurt)
    frozen fruit (instead of ice)

    Only thing to consider with that recipe is that you’ll need a bigger straw because it seems that no matter how much you puree there’ll still be some fruit chunks that won’t go up a regular straw.

  13. whitney says

    My girls love when we make egg mcmuffin sandwiches. A slice of cheese , a piece of heated ham or sausage, and a cooked egg ( I scramble mine up, but let it cook like an omlet) all sandwiched on a toasted english muffin. Apparently there is even a toaster you can invest in that cooks the english muffin, egg and meat at the same time. I’m okay the seperate way- but it’s quicker for some.
    ps- I’m surprised as early as the daycare opens that they don’t provide a meal for the kids- that sounds kind of cheap.

  14. says

    We’re letting our daughter eat half of her “toasty cheese” sandwich (toast and cheese heated for 30 seconds in the microwave) for breakfast, and she eats the rest for lunch. On days that she doesn’t want to eat, it’s a string cheese stick and some juice. She’ll usually eat a microwave quesadilla too. None of it takes more than 2 minutes to make and we’re already making the sandwich!

  15. Lynne says

    I agree, the daycare should provide a breakfast – I work for a preschool that doesn’t start seeing kids until 8:30, and we are subject to daycare licensing laws which require us to provide both a morning and afternoon meal that is so substantial we don’t even call it “snack” anymore. However, my first grader now has to bring her own mid-morning snack to her school and I usually pack a granola bar for her. This is after the cereal and Ovaltine she insists on first thing at home. Occasionally I get her to eat half a banana as well. Then she has a cafeteria lunch (who knows what) and I just try to pack in all her nutrients at dinner. More spinach, anyone?
    I did discover something over the summer for camp, when she had to bring a non-refrigerated lunch during 90+ heat: use a sandwich press (makes it into an uncrustable-style mini-pie – mine is from Pampered Chef) for PBJs and freeze them. Put them in the lunchbox in the morning and they are refreshingly cold but edible by lunchtime.. and most importantly not soggy. You could do the same with non-nut fillings for allergies (also an issue for our preschool – please take this seriously!), and perhaps adjust the timing somehow for breakfast?

  16. says

    MUFFINS! We make and freeze our own version of Morning Glory Muffins with carrots, apples, zucchini & yogurt. He loves these. Pumpin muffins and banana nut muffins are also a nutritious portable breakfast. Recipes on my blog!

    We also make fruit scones that are very portable.

    In a real pinch–you can’t beat a banana and/or a hard-boiled egg.

  17. says

    I have one easy suggestion to make — a quesadilla. Trader Joe’s sells whole-wheat tortillas; use whatever kind of melty cheese you like (pre-shredded, if you prefer). Heat up a pan at medium heat, throw the cheese onto one side of the tortilla, fold it up and let it heat. Turn it over once the cheese starts to melt. In about three minutes you can grab it and wrap it in a paper towel. It’s not as fast as it could be, but on cold mornings it’s nice to have something hot, and I have always found these to be a nice, gooey breakfast.

  18. Chaya says

    A nutritionist once recommended Carnation Instant Breakfasts for me. They aren’t perfect (i.e. they are processed chocolate shakes, not homemade fruit smoothies), but the powder packets that you mix with milk take about 2 seconds, and are very filling. I recommend the chocolate shake, and I know Kroger’s carries a store-brand one for relatively cheap. You can give it to your child in a sippy or a straw cup, or if she can handle it, a disposable cup with cover. Also, for the super easy, less than frugal, the yocrunch naturals (not for the car). My picky kids love them, and since they come with granola, they are getting some goodish carbs along with the other good stuff. Well, and the sugar. Good luck!

  19. Marie says

    How funny, I was just going to paste in the Giant Breakfast cookie that Laura has on her site and she beat me to it. We make batches of these (adding lots of different ingredients like coconut and dried cranberries) and freeze them. They are awesome!

  20. Big GUM says

    Luna bars (or similar, but don’t let the marketing towards women scare you away from these – my little guys love ‘em) combined with a cheese stick or yogurt tube (Stoneyfield Farms makes nice ones).
    Slices of cold leftover pizza are a fun breakfast -on-the-go.
    Slices of banana, pumpkin or apple spice bread with a cheese stick or yogurt tube.
    Mini pitas stuffed with peanut butter and honey.

  21. Leigh says

    My boys (3 and 18 mos) prefer savory breakfasts and their favorite on-the-go one is snack mix in a cup with milk in a sippy cup.

    You can make your own “Chex Mix” or buy the commercial kind. I like the Cheerios version–it has multi-grain Cheerios, regular Cheerios, two kinds of Chex cereal, preztels and crackers, and is suitably garlicky for my bunch. Best of all, it’s baked and has no trans-fats.

    A big bag is around 5 dollars at Sam’s, and it lasts a while.

    Just the words “Snack Mix” make my little guys’ eyes light up. It’s a relatively healthy snack they will actually eat, and that makes MY eyes light up.


  22. says

    Be wary when preparing any snacks with nuts! Many daycares won’t allow them, and your DD or DS might throw a hissy when she or he can’t eat their anticipated snack. (happened to me.)

    The breakfast cookies and muffins sound great! Can’t wait to try.

  23. says

    My favorite on the go breakfast foods for my 2 and 5 year olds are:

    -frozen waffles: they come in blueberry, cinnamon and plain, just toast and eat.
    -breakfast burrito: place scrambled egg and a slice of cheese in a tortilla and heat in microwave until cheese is melted. (eggs can be made the night before and put in fridge).
    -fried egg & cheese sandwich on hamburger bun. Also an be made the night before, put in the fridge, and heated in microwave.
    -dry cereal in a baggie. Non-sugary types like Kix or Cheerios. You can also mix them for variety and add raisins, cranberries etc. We use this for snacks when we go out, not just for breakfast.
    -Muffins: If they’re needing something fast, but not eating in the car. (too crumbly & sometimes sticky.)

    I’ve gotta try those breakfast cookies! They sound Great!

  24. Karina says

    -Quail eggs, hardboiled (just 5 minutes), peel night before and leave ready in small container.
    -Cubed cheese and whole grain bread cut into fun shapes
    -Ham and cream cheese rolls, cut into bite-size pieces (you can also add some veggies in these, like shredded carrots). Ok, maybe a bit messy, just don’t put too much cheese.
    -Grapes, seedless
    -Bread roll: flatten bread with a rolling pin and fill with cream cheese, fruit jam or other spread. Roll up and cut into bite-sized pieces.
    -Grilled cheese sandwiches, bite-size

    Hope this helps ;-)