Redefining Breakfast…

Our house has always been a “cereal and fruit” breakfast place.  Most of that stems from the fact that I go to work before 6:00am every morning so my girls have learned to fend for themselves.  Cereal and fruit require little cooking and are fast and easy to fix…

My cattle eat breakfast at the same time that my children do, so Daddy is in charge of breakfast at our house…

There are times on the weekends when one of my older girls will make home-made pancakes (my grandfather has a secret recipe that is awesome!), or they will con their daddy into making home-made crepes with strawberries.  But, up until this week, cereal and fruit have provided the mainstay on school mornings.

As you all know, my girls went back to school last week.  You may or may not be aware that school lunch requirements as dictated by the USDA have changed significantly this school year.  These changes were precipitated by Mrs. Obama’s “Let’s Move” program designed to reduce childhood obesity.

She’s long and lean and needs to be properly “fueled”…

While I am a huge fan of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and fully support seeing more of a priority placed on these food items in the lunchroom; I am truly at a loss at the calorie and protein limits that are also included in the new school lunch plan.  As a seventh grader, my favorite Junior High Cross Country runner will only receive between 9-10 ounces of meat per week and 600-700 calories per day if she chooses to eat school lunch…

For someone who leaves home at 7:45am, goes to school all day, and then has Cross Country practice until 5:30 at night, the new school lunch leaves her body nutritionally unprepared for the demands that are being made on it.  As a young athlete who is still growing and developing, she needs some ZIP (Zinc, Iron, Protein) to get her through the day.  A 2 ounce hamburger is just plain not enough…

Neither are Cross Country races…

Matt and I spent the weekend discussing what we could do to solve this problem.  This week, we are “redefining breakfast” at the Feed Yard Foodie house.  Matt is taking up residence as a short order breakfast cook.  The cereal and fruit that used to be on the menu are now being replaced with needed protein and a hot meal to help my girls get through the day.

Hot oatmeal, bacon, eggs, pancakes, and breakfast burritos with eggs and hamburger will likely all appear on the menu as we venture through the week…

Only time will tell what Chef Matt will come up with–I am simply thankful that he is such a devoted daddy :)

While I am confident that Matt and I can come up with a compromise at our house to make sure that our girls get enough to eat, I am frustrated that this is an issue.  I worry that other children whose parents do not have the time, money or motivation to get up and cook for them will suffer.

We live in a small community where many of the Junior High and High School students do a sport after school.  Universal participation is necessary so that our school can have sports teams.  These young athletes need a good lunch that will carry them through the afternoon and its physical challenges.

Our school lunch program needs to FUEL THEM so that they can MOVE!

Does anyone have breakfast menu suggestions for Chef Matt to help him fuel our girls for the day?

41 Comments

Filed under General, Nutrition (cattle and human)

41 responses to “Redefining Breakfast…

  1. Nancy

    Reminds me of the “no child left behind” act. While that program helped the slower kids it did nothing to challenge the gifted and higher achieving kids. While obesity is an epidemic, there are some very active children that do need more food. Some children don’t get enough nutrition at home and the school lunch program helped fill the gaps.

    • I agree, Nancy. A “one size fits all” program does not work given the diversity that exists in our country. I believe that the cure for obesity lies in teaching good nutrition/eating habits and encouraging exercise—limiting offerings of healthy food in the school lunch room makes no one a “winner”.

      Thanks for sharing!
      Anne

  2. Michelle

    Biscuits and gravy are a favorite at our house as well as egg, cheese and bacon or ham sandwiches. They’re easy and the boys are ready for the long school day.

    • Thanks Michelle! Matt wants to try various “breakfast sandwiches” so we’ll see how it goes :) Perhaps I can talk him into writing a follow up post after he gets his “chef routine” figured out.

      Great ideas and I really appreciate you sharing,
      Anne

  3. Bill

    Anne ~ Eldest daughter is a fashion model. How can I score my own blood red beef wear? I could not find it online. And for the good of the order… “Pancakes! Pancakes!! Pancakes!!!” That’s my four year old daughter’s official Saturday morning cheer. ~ Bill

    • Bill,

      A group of young women at Penn State University sold those t-shirts to raise money for their collegiate beef group. I don’t know if they still have them or not–

      You will have to send me a picture of you cooking pancakes with Maddie–I am sure that is a sight to see. Which one of you washes the dishes??

      Anne

  4. I love this post! Kids need more than these school lunches are providing. I know your kids will be fine, but what about those kids on free and reduced lunch programs? Those are the kids I worry about.

    Egg and cheese sandwiches are high protein and easy to fix.

    Great post! Keep Em coming!

    Janeal

    • Janeal,

      I share your worry. Our community has a significant percentage of our students on free and reduced breakfast and lunch programs—many of these kids are also athletes. I wonder where they will get their nutrition?

      I am glad that you enjoyed the post!

      Thanks for sharing,
      Anne

  5. Herbert C Gibson

    Anne: Good homemaking and valid public criticism. One size does not fit all. You know that breakfast is the one to fuel the start when the body needs to start performing. What I added was tomato slices to increase fruit and vegtable intake early in the day. After fresh fruit and yogurt as a starter, full breakfast includes tomato slices served on a plate with egg and canadian bacon slices. Canadian bacon is loin and lean! Love bacon but it should be ocassional due to fat content. Lean sirloin is a great breakfast meat if expense and time permits. Changing protein source, i.e. meats, is a great way to vary the menu . Adding a vegtable and fruit gives a good source of carbs, and plain Greek yogurt or cottage cheese provides more protein,and fat can be controlled by 2% lower fat product preperation.I have read good training sources that say 40% protein for training athletes is appropriate with the rest of the intake divided ,20-30 percent good carbs and the balence good fats. Once a distance runner burns through carbs, their metabolism turns to fats so higher percentage of good fat is important along with the protein.This works for an active Granddaddy.

    • I thought of you as I wrote this post! Thanks for the tips–we will try them.

      The first cross country meet is Thursday afternoon, AG is pretty excited to run :)

      Anne

  6. Paula

    I am very concerned about the redesigned school lunch portions and calories, too. My senior high daughter is a swimmer and she gets up at 5:30 am to get ready for school. She is not interested in eating a large breakfast at that time and usually has cereal or bagel/cream cheese, and she is out the door! I told her we should start packing her lunches. I wonder how other student athletes would fare under this lunch menu change. Plus, this is probably the only balanced meal that most school kids eat in a day!! School lunch has long been the easy target for those who think kids should eat low-fat this and that. It started with the elimination of whole milk a couple decades ago. Very sad. Kids need nutrient-rich foods to keep them going. Regulators/educators/parents also need to put more effort into limiting kid-time in chairs and in front of screens. Recess and mandatory gym time are needed for all.

    • Paula,

      As a “retired swimmer” I can empathize with your daughter! I remember those years when it seemed like I was always hungry. Just like you, we are talking about packing lunches a couple of times per week for the girls.

      I agree that kids needs nutrient-rich foods and a good balanced diet that includes high quality protein sources and enough calories to fuel them for the day.

      I also agree that exercise is critical for kids of all ages. We do a lot of “family exercising” to encourage our kids to be active. It is a lot of fun and keeps Matt and I in shape too!

      Thanks for sharing,
      Anne

  7. Some yummy breakfast things

    Leftover fried rice topped with egg. Grilled fish. Miso soup. Breakfast taco. Whole wheat pancakes. Hot chocolate made with milk. Yogurt.

  8. Renae

    We make extra french toast on the weekends. It will keep well in a fridge container, and easily heats up in the microwave with a little extra sausage, or whatever you like with french toast. I too have noticed how ravenous the kids are when they come home after school. My youngest really likes adding some greek yogurt, and I am pleased with that choice as well. Our first week school was only half days, and they were ravenous coming home @ 130pm, let alone this past week at 4pm. I don’t see how the teachers even get anyone’s attention in the afternoons beyond 130pm. My kids love their fruits and veggies, and I am glad there is a salad bar available, and in fact, I have donated extra garden produce to their lunch program so my kids have Home Grown stuff available on the salad bar. HOWEVER a LOT of folks have their kids eat breakfast @ school in the morning, so now there is a “double deduction” of protein in thier diet. Somehow a funnel cake and fruit just doesn’t seem like a good menu choice in my book. I noticed last week they announced the government was going to buy lots of meat due to the drought affecting the farmer’s ability to care for livestock. Well, I say, where is the beef? Pork, Chicken, etc? Put it on the school lunch menu and feed it to my kids!

    • Renae,

      Great idea–I’d sure love to see more high quality protein in the school lunch program. I do not know where that meat is going from the drought buy out—and I think that the government purchase of meat actually did not include any beef–but I’d love to see some of that protein end up in the school system.

      I agree that the additional fruits and vegetables (as well as the whole grains) are a tremendous improvement. My girls are enjoying them. The problem is that there is not enough protein to keep them satisfied throughout the afternoon. My oldest daughter, in particular, is not getting enough nutrients given her athletic/activity requirements.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!
      Anne

  9. Nebraska Farm Wife

    We don’t have kids yet… (next generation for our family farm is on the way)… but looking down the road 5 or 6 year I am already concerned and have thought about what will I do when we get there. I have asked the question why don’t we teach kids about healthy eating. A “revamped” home ec class that teaches all kids about healthy portions, including activity with a balanced diet, nutrient intake, what those nutrients do specifically for the body, how to calculate low cost high quality balanced meals, and how to prepare those meals in a healthy way that still taste good. Limiting them now will not prepare them for later when there isn’t somebody limiting their intake for 1 meal a day. I look around my community in rural Nebraska, where most kids participate in sports, many go home after school and sports practice to do farm chores, those in town still run around with their friends in the streets, and for the most part I see healthy kids. I know that this is not the case other areas of the country, so why not let the state and local school boards make adjustments based on their specific needs. I have read a lot of conversations about this subject the past week, and I get the feeling that those lucky enough with the means will change how they feed their kids (pack lunches and snacks, and change meals at home) but I wonder how the families not fortunate enough to be able to make these changes will do.
    GOOD LUCK to your new morning CHEF!!!

    • Congratulations Bobbi! I am glad to hear that your family is expanding :)

      I also agree with your thoughts 100%–thanks for sharing them.

      Anne

  10. Great post, Anne. Like you, the new standards concern me for children who depend school lunches for their primary nutrition. I’m frustrated to be paying taxes into a system that by choice cut the amount of protein from their meals.

    PS: I love that your husband is embracing the role of short order breakfast cook.

    • Aimee,

      I am fortunate that he is such a good sport. He is a great daddy :)

      I also share your sentiments about financially supporting a flawed system…

      Thanks for sharing,
      Anne

  11. Kathy Bottrell

    Overheard a similar conversation in Dollar General here in Beloit, Kansas. The Mom was purchasing lots of boxes of snack type foods (to be stored in his school locker) so her football playing son had enough calories to keep him going through practice. Probably not the best nuitrition in the world, but………he obviously needs more calories than school lunch is providing. The folks who developed the new guidlelines failed to include 2 basic building blocks for young bodies-protein and good fats.

    • Kathy,

      We have talked about “snacks” at our house to have between school and practice as well. There are a couple of reasons why I agree with you that they are not a very good fix for the problem: 1. they will likely lack nutritional value relative to a good balanced lunch meal, and 2. my daughter doesn’t want to eat right before running—it is still hot here in the afternoon, and she figures that she will get sick if she eats before practice due to running in the heat.

      The best thing is to have a filling and balanced lunch—which is all but impossible with a 6-700 calorie limit as well as only 8-10 ounces of meat each week…

      Thanks for sharing,
      Anne

  12. Nancy

    Anne – On the weekends when I have more time, I make up a weeks worth of breakfast burritos, complete with eggs, potatoes, spinach, sausage or hamburger, mushrooms and cheese. I wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze them. On school mornings, I defrost and heat in the microwave and breakfast is complete! My family loves them! This also works well for me as I venture to work as they are handy to take along.

    • Nancy,

      Great idea–I just told Matt and he agreed. I love the idea that they are “mobile” and I could take them with me to the feed yard as well!

      Thanks,
      Anne

  13. Anne-I have had a issue with our kids school lunch for awhile “nutrition and atmosphere” in the elementary. Last Sept I made a HUGE change in our home where my boys where not allowed cold cereal for breakfast on a school day. It was one of the best things I have done for my boys!
    Growing up my parents had a rule that if you didn’t eat breakfast then you didn’t get on the bus. (always thought it was a funny rule but as a child I didn’t understand the point behind it).
    I loved your post and it really made me think even more about the new changes in this years school lunches. Good Luck!!!

    • Gwen,

      Thanks for stopping by to read and comment! I agree that there are certainly improvements that could be made in our lunch system.

      I am laughing about your parents rule–it is a good one. I have always believed that breakfast was an important meal—now it is even more important! There are so many challenges that our kids face, and I want to “set them up for success” so that they make good food choices and are strong and healthy.

      I am glad that you enjoyed the post,
      Anne

  14. Anne,

    I was also disappointed to see the new school lunch requirements for protein. It is unfortunate that it is not socially/politically acceptable to admit we all need more protein in our diets.

    Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and I am continually working to insure that my young children have plenty of protein in their breakfast to give them the foundation to get through the day. There are several convenience items that I have tested and approved, but my favorite is my own homemade “egg muffins”. Basically I make an egg casserole with lean sausage or hamburger, eggs, veggies and cheese in muffin cups. Then I freeze them or keep them in the fridge for an easy quick high protein breakfast. Plus you can change them up by adding different cheeses or seasoning to meet all different tastes! I have found that they freeze and reheat the best when they are in the thicker specialty muffin cups. Be sure to spray the inside of the muffin cup with non-stick spray for easy removal.
    Also, may help to pack high protein snacks with a carbohydrate such as raisins for your daughter so she has the fuel she needs for practice as well. Best of luck!

    Jennifer

  15. MeganS

    I am from a small town where most everyone was an athlete. We had great, home cooked meals at school (okay, most of them were great!) and we never in a million years had to worry about calories. My Dad made us breakfast often on game days and his favorite thing to make was steak and eggs. It was usually leftover steak from the night before but we didn’t care! Usually we had eggs, pancakes, cereal (not sugar cereal), waffles, french toast. Something like that. I like to read Trent Loos in the High Plains Journal and he had an article a while back on what to eat for breakfast. It might surprise some of those who are “health conscious”. Here is the link: http://www.hpj.com/archives/2011/oct11/oct24/1019LoosTalesMRsr.cfm

    I now live in a suburban area. It is difficult to see so many children overweight. They just don’t get the exercise and nutrition they need to stay healthy. Schools around here “cut” kids from sports teams because there are just too many and it is too competitive. Major mistake in my mind. I think if a kid wants to go out for a sport, they should be on the team. I coach volleyball and track and I would have a really hard time turning a kid away who wants to put in the time and effort to learn and appreciate a sport.

    While I appreciate the government’s attempt to make the meals in our public schools healthier, I know it isn’t going to be perfect for everyone. I am not sure how to remedy this. When I was in college playing sports, we had Training Table. Any athlete ate there and the food had the caloric intake necessary to sustain us through our workouts. Maybe this should somehow be an option for these kids who need more calories during the day. I think you guys are doing a great job of taking the lead with your family and ensuring your kids receive what they need. It’s a tough issue to work through for all involved. Wish I had an answer.

    • Megan,

      That was such a well thought out comment. I so much appreciate you taking the time to share. I agree with you that there is no easy answer–I only hope that we keep searching so that we can improve. I worry about federal regulations setting one “cookie cutter” for school lunches all across the country. I think that flexibility at the local level is vitally important.

      I also agree that all kids should be included in athletics–every single young person would benefit from the exercise, work ethic, and team comraderie that is learned playing a sport. A big portion of “getting fit” and being healthy lies in exercise.

      All the best,
      Anne

  16. Rex

    Anne,
    I wonder how much of the school lunch program is trying to do the right thing with too little.
    When I grew up, we lived four blocks from school so we ran home at lunch and back to school in 40 minutes because my Mom knew she could provide a better meal than the school. Remembering the menus, I am not so sure. For us, school lunch was a treat, but I remember it being long on carbohydrates, so so on protien and a single serving of canned veggies and maybe canned fruit or a slice of cake. The new guidlelines seem to be trying to upgrade the veggies at the expense of protien. Personally, I think they should trade some SNAP (fiood stampss) for additional support in the school lunch and breakfast
    programs.

  17. I worked in school food service(florida) for 25 years and watched many kids come in so hungry for breakfast and lunch that they would clean there plates and then lick the corners to make sure they go every bit of taste that was on the plate. as a manager I always offered a PBJ if the kids were still hungry after the meal. we had a share table that the kids placed foods that they did not want and other kids could get the food to eat, we had very little waste in my kitchen. I know these new guide lines will not take care of most kids needs, I do not think for one minute that school lunch made our kids over weight, it is too many snacks and trips to fast foods. I watched some parents bringing happy meals and such to there kids for lunch because they would not eat any thing else they said. these kids have never been hungry. I worked in a school with very high free lunch, every one was offered a free breakfast, I held breakfast open until every bus was in. we cooked good food and most of the staff ate in the lunch room because they liked the food, that says a lot of food service. I am glad I am retired because I am not comfortable with these new guide lines.

    • Ellie,

      As always, I very much appreciate your thoughts. You have a unique perspective and that was an insightful comment. I am currently trying to figure out what the rules are for children that want to go back for “seconds” after they finish if they are still hungry. Like you, I do not want to see kids go without.

      All the best,
      Anne

  18. I really don’t think there is a set standard for geing back for seconds. I know on pizza day kids would tell me they were still hungry and when I said you can have a PBJ they said no I just wanted a free pizza. Our program allowed kids to buy seconds of anything they wanted. When I worked in Mississippi the kids had to buy a whole lunch for seconds. In Miss. they sold no snacks unless it was a milk product or 100 percent juice.this is a big school system here in Tampa, the 8th in the country, it is hard to make the director realize that all kids don’t eat the same, here in farming areas the kids like filling wholesome food, in town they want trendy things but the menu is the same all over the county. I think the areas where the kids come from should play a part in the food offered. the kids are offered a hot food dish, sandwich or a chef salad so there is usually something everyone likes. I read that milk is to be offered only 5 times a week, that means if you have cereal for breakfast you have used you daily milk up, I don’t understand.

  19. Breakfasts: Carna Asada burrito’s work at our house, crock pot breakfasts, We had our standard lists of three or four basic things (eggs, cheeses, potato, meat {-bacon-ham-sausage-small steaks-}, then would change it up with cottage cheese and fruit with whole grain bread or Hash and eggs, or simple grilled under the broiler open faced sandwiches with tomato. I now change it up with greek yogurt spread on whole wheat breads with fruit toppings.
    Lunch addons: use to be hard boiled eggs, home cut cheese sticks, or bagged up nuts, yogurt and fruit to eat with lunch
    After practice pack a piece of fruit, fruit drink (pear was my fav), carrot sticks, or a no cook oatmeal nut bar we made to eat after working out as we did not get home to eat after practice then after chores until 7 pm, later on game nights. My bother the college a star track member use to eat jerky or beef sticks to help him fill up.

    I am a big believer in several small “meals” to help young bodies grow if they are in sports etc. Learning to keep the blood sugar level is key in learning and being in sports. Protein, good fats, and slow release carbs balenced with fresh veggies are in my book is a key in filling these growing bodies.

    Your hubby is a gem of the first rate,

    • I love all of your ideas, Robin! Thanks so much for taking the time to write them all down for me.

      My kids love jerky and beef sticks so we try to always have those around :). I am going to work on your other ideas.

      I really appreciate you sharing,
      Anne

  20. Betsy

    Thanks for a thought-provoking post! There are times when you instinctively feel that “something’s not quite right here”, but can’t put your finger on it. In this case, it was an assumption of what “all kids” are eating and what “all kids” need – which didn’t apply. Way to go, proactive parents! And way to go, Chef Dad!

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