How “Dinner for Breakfast” Revolutionized School Mornings for My Family

updated May 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Meghan Splawn)

Breakfast for dinner is one of our favorite easy weeknight meals, but what about dinner for breakfast? Believe it or not, this upside-down idea has revolutionized school-day breakfasts at my house.

“Dinner for breakfast” was actually inspired by my daughter’s request for quesadillas one morning before school. It was fast and easy to toast up a tortilla filled with cheese, and I was happy she was getting protein from the cheese and a side of leftover black beans. When she gobbled it down without complaints, which isn’t always the case with her routine egg scramble, I knew we were onto something.

(Image credit: Meghan Splawn)

Why I Serve My Kids Dinner for Breakfast

Protein and whole grains are important fuel for growing brains. Dozens of research studies have shown that children who eat breakfasts rich in both have longer attention spans and perform better as a result. Eggs, oatmeal, and yogurt are great breakfasts for kids and are easy to make on busy mornings for parents.

On breakfast and brainpower: Read more on boosting brainpower with breakfast at NPR

I believe in all of these nutritional points and practice them with my kids. But one morning, with a heavy sigh, my daughter declared that she was “over eggs.” Quesadillas became a quick solution, but slowly other dishes we deemed “dinner” migrated to the breakfast table. Pasta with bacon and eggs (a riff on classic carbonara) made the best of leftover pasta, dinner baked beans became breakfast beans, and grilled cheese and tomato soup became a great alternative to eggs and toast.

How I Serve My Kids Dinner for Breakfast

I am not a morning person, so I rely on dinner leftovers to pull off the magic that is dinner for breakfast. Monday night is usually pasta night for dinner, so I boil extra and stash it in the fridge to reheat with fried bacon later in the week. Similarly, on Taco Tuesdays, I’ll make extra beans or shred extra cheese for quesadillas. Even leftover roasted vegetables get invited to the table as hash.

This formula isn’t limited to leftovers, though. Grilled cheese is as easy to pull off for breakfast as scrambled eggs. Soba noodles cook up quickly and can be tossed with peanut sauce and sliced vegetables. Pita bread pizzas, warm and melty from the toaster oven, have gotten us through many Monday mornings.

Sometimes the best ideas come from kids telling just what it is they want.

Read more: Dinner for Breakfast: Why Not? (many more great ideas in the comments).

Do you ever serve dinner for breakfast? What are some of your favorites? Cold pizza, anyone?