5 Easy Breakfast Ideas for the Time-Crunched

Almost every new personal training client I see needs to be convinced of the benefits of eating breakfast.

  • your body needs energy after a 10-12 hour fast
  • eating breakfast reduces mid-morning food cravings
  • missing breakfast often leads to over-eating later in the day
  • breakfast eaters are more successful at losing weight and maintaining weight loss than non-breakfast eaters
  • starting your day with a healthy meal will set the stage for healthy choices the rest of the day

Many complain that they don’t have time to prepare and eat a meal in the morning. Those that do make time for breakfast typically eat toast and jam or cold cereal with milk. Better than nothing, but too much sugarnot enough protein and unlikely to keep them from reaching for coffee cart pastries mid-morning.

Week one’s homework? Eat breakfast every day, incorporating complex carbohydrates (for energy and fiber), lean protein (for muscle building and satiation) and a little, healthy fat (too many benefits to list!).

Here are 5 easy breakfast ideas, listed in order from the least to the most time-consuming. The first two can even be made the night before and eaten while you check your email or during your morning commute. And if you’re really clever, you can do a little of the prep work for 3, 4 and 5 the night before as well.

breakfast ideas in a hurry

1. Overnight oats (3 minutes prep, the night before)

Combine 1/3 cup large flake oats, 1/3 cup non-fat Greek yogurt, 1/3 cup water or unsweetened almond milk and 1 Tbsp almond butter in a jar or glass pyrex container. Refrigerate overnight. Microwave 45 s and top with a handful of your favourite fruit, fresh or dried.

2. Fruit and protein smoothie (3 minutes prep, evening or morning)

Place 1 cup fresh or frozen fruit, 1 scoop protein powder, 1 Tbsp ground flax or chia seed and 1 cup water or iced green tea in a blender. Mix. Drink immediately. (Smoothies can also be prepared the night before and refrigerated until morning).

3. Egg and veggie omelette (8 minutes prep)

Chop 1 cup of mixed vegetables (I prefer peppers, mushrooms and onions). Lightly oil a non-stick pan and sauté veggies until soft; about 5 min. Crack two or three eggs into pan and whisk until cooked through. Garnish with fruit of your choice.

**Speed up your morning prep time by cooking veggies the night before. I’ve been known to add leftover roast veggies to my morning omelette.

4. Protein pancakes (8-10 minutes prep)

Combine 1/4 cup commercial pancake mix (I use Coyote Whole Grain), 1 Tbsp each of wheat germ, wheat bran and ground flax seed, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 egg and 1 scoop protein powder. Mix with a fork and add enough water to create a thick, pourable batter. Heat and lightly oil a non-stick pan. Spoon batter into pan (this recipe makes 2 pancakes) and cook until bubbles appear on the surface of cakes. Flip and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes. Serve with non-fat Greek yogurt and berries. No syrup needed!

**Shave 3-4 minutes off your pancake prep time by making the batter the night before. Make sure to leave it in the fridge overnight.

5. Cooked grains (8-10 minutes prep)

Combine 1/3 cup of your favourite grain (I prefer either large flake/steel cut oats or teff) with 1/3 cup water, non-fat milk or unsweetened almond milk and 2 egg whites. Mix in a dash of cinnamon and 1/2 tsp honey (optional). Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until liquid is almost absorbed. Decorate with your favourite healthy toppings; fresh or dried fruit, nuts, shredded coconut, granola, non-fat yogurt and/or nut butter (but take care; toppings add flavour, but they also add lots of calories!).

**I like to make a big batch of steel cut oats on the weekend and store the leftovers in an air-tight container for quick and easy breakfasts during the week. Just place a 1/2 of cooked oats in a microwave-proof dish, top with a little milk or almond milk, heat and stir. Ready in less than 2 minutes!

Voila! Five easy breakfast ideas, regardless of how busy your morning is!

Now you tell me your favourite quick and easy breakfast recipes? I’d love to add to my morning repertoire!




  1. I have YET to try protein pancakes! Must jump on the bandwagon – i love pancakes!

  2. There are so many great recipes out there! Get on it girl!

  3. Great breakfast ideas. I love my breakfast time. It’s when I enjoy my tea and newspaper (wow, that makes me sound old). But I’m boring. I always keep a bowl of mixed berries in the fridge, and every morning I have them with yogurt and some granola mixed in. A whole wheat English muffin completes my fine dining. I know I should change things up, but it’s all good for me (though I go easy on the high-calorie granola), and I love my routine. 🙂
    crubin recently posted…Help A Girl Out With Her Author HeadshotMy Profile

    • You are anything but old and boring, my friend! Did you know that people who eat the same thing over and over and over again tend to stay at the same weight for a long time? It’s a great dieting tip!

      And I sooo wish that granola wasn’t so high in calories. I could eat an entire bag in one sitting…

  4. I love topping my pancakes with Chobani and fruit. Best way to go. Well, that and peanut butter. Great list!

    Always a must – Breakfast.
    Christine@Oatmeal Bowl recently posted…@eMeals : Easy Dinner Meals for Busy People & #GiveawayMy Profile

    • Hey, you posted about easy meals for busy people today too! How funny is that?
      Quick, I’m thinking of a number between 1 and 10…

  5. YOU ROCK with these recipes!!! I have new ideas! I am not a cook really so I love to read other recipes & then use myself or alter just a bot for me.. LOVE!!!!
    Jody – Fit at 54 recently posted…Hidden Agendas – Can They Harm You?My Profile

  6. What is teff? I have never heard of it. And I also love steel cut oats. And you had me pegged correctly – I love that first recipe with the almond milk. Thanks!
    AlexandraFunFit recently posted…The Klout Workout: Perks & CircuitsMy Profile

  7. I have been eating omelettes with veggies made from a couple of eggs and egg whites, or grain-free crepes made with coconut flour and ground flax, or whey protein powder pancakes or even a hot ‘cereal’ made with egg whites and ground flax… all great and almost 0 carbs!
    Elle recently posted…Off to a Great Running StartMy Profile

  8. Breakfast is a must for me, and it needs to have some protein! Which I eat depends on what I’m doing for the day or if I’m working, but here are my current faves:

    1) Yogurt, berries or fruit, and a little granola or high protein cereal
    2) English muffin, natural peanut butter, and fruit
    3) Steel cut oats, apples and almond butter
    4) Eggs (scrambled or an omelette with veggies) and fruit

    In a real pinch I’ll make a smoothie with protein powder, but I find it just doesn’t stick with me as well as the rest do. Mmmm now I want breakfast!
    Kris recently posted…Racine Ironman 70.3 Race Recap – July 15, 2012My Profile

  9. (caint tell if my comment took?)
    I cannot fathom how people SKIP BREAKFAST.
    your five reasons why NOT TO nailed it all.
    MIzMiz recently posted…PLAYouts: Doing the sprinkler.My Profile

  10. Great recipes and ideas, Tamara! Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and I usually start with an egg white omelet filled with sauteed spinach, mushrooms, onions and 1/4 cups shredded cheese that comes in at 200 calories and 20 grams of protein. I can’t wait to try the make-ahead oatmeal and protein pancake recipes you shared.
    Shira recently posted…Are Extreme Diets Evil?My Profile

    • I do seem to remember you loving the breakfasts at Fitness and Health Bloggers Conference! Your omelet sounds divine! Check out my blog tomorrow for an introduction to teff (plus another breakfast recipe!)

  11. I am so a breakfast eater! I love my morning oats so much that I go to bed excited for them in the morning! Lately I’ve been making smoothie “soups” topped with a granola or Grapenuts and fresh blueberries. So yummy and refreshing when it’s hot!
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted…The Rise of the Fit MamasMy Profile

  12. I am trying to cut down on bread and have totally changed my peanut butter on squirrel bread religion! I’m really enjoying cottage cheese, fresh or frozen fruit, a dollop of peanut butter (1T) and sprinkle hemp, chia, flax if and when I have them. It really keeps me well fed and satiated until lunch!