Quick and Easy

How to Make a Healthy Portable Breakfast

January 25, 2014

There are so many great conversations on the Hotline -- it's hard to choose a favorite. But we'll be doing it, once a week, to spread the wealth of our community's knowledge -- and to keep the conversation going.

Today: A breakfast that's healthy, tasty, and portable is not out of reach. Here are your go-to breakfasts, to go. 

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In the chaos of long commutes and waking up when it's still dark, it's all too easy to skimp on weekday breakfasts: to guzzle coffee instead, to grab a bagel or a super-sized muffin on the road, or to hold out, stomach grumbling, for a proper desk lunch. Even the most culinary among us cannot be relied upon to think up a breakfast that's equally sustaining and tasty when we're still half-asleep.

But LucyS has bigger dreams for the most important meal of the day. This week on the Hotline, she sought to expand her options for healthy to-go breakfasts ("the less prep, the better") to bring on a 2-hour train ride to work. She won't be going hungry anytime soon.

Quick Prep (or No Prep)

  • It's a truth universally acknowledged that everyone loves smoothies. Combine produce -- from bananas and blueberries, to avocado and mango -- with your favorite nut butter, milk, Greek yogurt, and, if you're fancy like petitbleu, supplements like bee pollen and spirulina. ZombieCupcake boosts his smoothie with oats, and Dave on the grill adds that you can do all assembly the night before -- your Mason jar is here to help.
  • Hot cereal is painless to prep: just soak it overnight. Ali Bran prefers hers "soaked in almond milk (or any non-dairy milk), with cranberries, cinnamon, and almond slivers, mixed with a tablespoon of flax or chia," while petitbleu soaks hers in whole milk yogurt. For easy transit, kimhw recommends a clever container, "where the spoon has its own compartment to keep it and/or your bag clean!" 
  • Cut out the middleman of Thermoses and Mason jars, and do as ZombieCupcake does: choose "something that is its own container," like a hard-boiled egg or a banana. Pegeen boils her eggs, too, but then she mashes them and adds in some herbs, spices, and a tiny bit of mayo. "Stuff into a small pita and wrap to go. It shouldn't offend anyone sitting next to you on the train."

Freeze and Thaw

  • SuperYalda improvises whole-wheat muffins with carrots, oatmeal, walnuts, and raisins. If you're not into improv, make a batch of these.
  • Laura makes omelet muffins, a cousin of the mini-flourless quiches that kimhw makes in muffin tins with lots of veggies (and sometimes some meat and cheese), and freezes for easy reheating.
  • On the subject of eggs baked ahead in muffin tins, Sam1148 makes DIY Egg McMuffins on toasted English muffins. If they're wrapped well, they keep in the freezer and can be reheated in the microwave. (To make them healthy, swap the meat for these mustardy greens, which you can make ahead).

What's your standby for rushing-out-the-door weekday mornings? Tell us in the comments!

Photos by James Ransom

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Lee Ann
    Lee Ann
  • Carla Fisher
    Carla Fisher
  • Lisa D
    Lisa D
  • savorthis
  • ONaturelle
Fond of large dogs, tiny houses, pungent cheese, and dessert for dinner (or breakfast).


Lee A. April 5, 2016
I can't remember where I found this recipe (online somewhere), but it's super easy and will make enough oatmeal for a family of four, plus leftovers for another breakfast.
Mix 2 cups steel-cut oats, 5 c. milk (I use almond milk), 3 t. vanilla, 1/2 t. salt, 6 T maple syrup (I use half of that, especially if I add dried fruit), 1 1/2 c. chopped dates or other dried fruit (I usually use less), and 3 3/4 t. cinnamon.
Mix it all together in the rice cooker. Close the lid and set it on the white rice cycle. Check it after about 25-30 minutes, as sometimes it is done before the cycle finishes.
Carla F. April 5, 2016
My go-to breakfast is 7 grain cereal (steel cut, not rolled), cooked in the microwave. Takes 5 minutes. I start the kettle for tea, throw 1/4 cup of cereal, pinch of salt, and 3/4 cup of water (or, if I have it, I add some cream, milk, or coconut cream) in a big bowl, so it doesn't overflow in the microwave. While it's cooking, I get out the peanut butter and flax seed and lightly whip an egg white. As soon as the microwave finishes, mix in the egg white (the residual heat cooks it), add 1 TBSP PB, 1 TBSP flax, and 1 TBSP blackstrap molasses or treacle. It's like eating a warm peanut butter cookie and provides fiber, protein, and omega 3 fatty acids for my day. YUM! If I have to take it to work, I cook it 4 minutes, then add everything and throw it in a microwaveable container. At work, I add a little more water and cook it for another minute.
Lisa D. February 27, 2014
I'm kinda stuck on my hard boiled eggs for breakfast. Every now and then I remove the yolk and replace it with a spoon of avocado and sprinkle a bit of pepper on it. :)
savorthis January 27, 2014
I've been making these a lot: http://food52.com/recipes/24818-scrambled-egg-muffins and we make a batch of ying's slow cooker oatmeal every week: http://food52.com/recipes/3062-overnight-steel-cut-oats-with-almond-butter-honey
ONaturelle January 27, 2014
My Nutribullet has been my Godsend. I wash my chosen greens (generally parsley, because it's non-goitrogenic) the night before, and pop them in the jar and put it in the fridge. On weekends, I prep avocado (mash and mix with lemon, freeze ice-cream-scoop fulls) and also other fruits (bananas, pears, et cetera) I've picked up from the reduced rack. Come morning, I just open the freezer remove my fruit of choice, combine with the greens, add hemp hearts, water and ice and whiz until smooth, pop the lid on, and I'm off. This provides me with 3 - 8 oz glasses and carries me through until lunch.
Rémy R. January 27, 2014
Wow! Taking smoothies to another level. I'd never heard of a NutriBullet but now I'm intrigued. Thanks for the idea!
ONaturelle January 27, 2014
I've just been trying to get more raw foods into my diet Remy; trust me, I've had some true misses flavour wise, but some real winners ;-). I'm uncertain where you are located, but, in my town, I can purchase 600 gram bags of frozen berries, on sale, for $2.99 CAD. I try to incorporate at least four servings of fruits/veggies in my Nutriblasts; greens are exceedingly important. I had thought of purchasing a juicer, but then you lose all the incredibly important fiber. I also add a nub of ginger, half a stick of cinnamon, turmeric, et cetera for their incredible inflammation properties. There's no recipe, it's just you trying to be the best you, for you! Good luck!
bek1468 January 27, 2014
A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is easy, quick, and yummy.
Anne H. January 27, 2014
PB&J is my favorite to-go breakfast! I also go for steel cut oats in a coffee mug.
henandchicks January 26, 2014
Burritos made and frozen, to be thawed the night before and reheated in the a.m. are standard in our house- both for convenience and for the opportunity to use up some item that we have lots of (over enthusiastic sweet potato preparation= sweet potato burrito). I will usually prepare extra beans, cheese, etc, on taco night and scramble a few eggs to make a half dozen burritos during the meal clean-up- its pretty effortless.
Pegeen January 25, 2014
A helpful article to staying on the "right" food track in the New Year. Thanks!