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So You Want to Stop…Your Fast Food Breakfast Habit

eating donut while driving
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My grandmother, and I bet yours, used to tell me all the time that breakfast was the most important meal of the day. I remember going to visit my grandparents in Memphis, and sitting with my grandmother while she had tea. Everyone in the family would come over to the house to chat and eat fruit, bacon and whatever people felt like cooking or bringing over. These were some of my favorite times as a kid (and where I learned you could froth milk then put it on cereal!), but I don’t think these leisurely breakfasts, however wholesome, are what most adults experience. And I know that because I read Quick Service Restaurants, the official magazine of the fast-food industry.

“Nearly half of consumers visited a limited-service restaurant for their early meal last year, up from a third in 2009,” they wrote in 2012. More and more of us are hitting the drive thru or coffee shop for our breakfast now.

Twenty-five percent of McDonald’s sales are breakfast items, up from 15% in 2009. Nineteen percent of Starbucks sales are breakfast foods, and they’re invested $200 million in buying breakfast food brands. Taco Bell saw the writing on the wall and, in 2014, started opening at 7 a.m. for commuters who want breakfast. Their key menu item? The Waffle Taco.

Why are fast food breakfast items selling like hot cakes (or waffle tacos)? Because we’re desperate for convenience. We’re already stopping for coffee … why not a bagel? Or an Egg McMuffin? There are more and better food choices that we can make at the start of our days, but when it comes to fighting for convenience, you can only win by being more convenient.

One of the problems with fast food breakfasts is that they create a habit loop—a powerful, subconscious drive where, triggered by our environment, we buy amped-up, ultra-tasty food that rewards our tastebuds immediately. According to the top researchers on breaking habit loops, the key is avoiding the cue altogether.

So we’ve got to stay OUT of the restaurant; otherwise, we’re just fighting our brain chemistry and tempting fate if we say we’ll just go to Dunkin’ for coffee and not get a donut.

Feeling rushed to get out of the house is a terrible feeling that most of us contend with at least a few times a week, but you can still get a healthy breakfast in if you plan ahead. Putting yogurt and fruit into individual mason jars on Sunday can ensure that you have a convenient option every day of the week. Cooking a quiche on Sunday means you can cut it up into individual servings, put them in glass or plastic containers, and zap them in the microwave when you get to the office.

“Customers are looking for breakfast options that are portable, and save time and money,” revealed a 2014 study by market research firm Technomic Inc. And while I wouldn’t recommend driving and eating, this is the reality of most commuters, who buy one-handed foods like Egg McMuffins and Waffle Tacos.

You can fight back by making your own one-handed breakfast foods the night before (or a week ahead on Sunday), such as quiches in muffin tins, or even your own egg-white-based breakfast sandwiches.

If you love smoothies, but the thought of prepping all the fruit and veggies in the morning is daunting, you can make things more simple and convenient by trying out smoothie blocks. Fruitera will deliver pre-frozen cubes of healthy, organic smoothie ingredients to your door, and all you have to do is throw them into the blender with some water. They’re even pre-packaged in single servings. It’d be hard to top something more convenient than that.

Looking for more on-the-go breakfast ideas you can make quickly at home? Try these:

Mini Whole Wheat Egg Sandwich Recipe
Egg and Hummus Breakfast Wrap Recipe
Flourless Banana Bread Muffins Recipe
Health Nut Blueberry Smoothie Recipe
Refreshing Kale & Pear Smoothie Recipe
Berry Beet Smoothie Recipe
Banana Bread Granola Bars Recipe
Cinnamon French Toast Breakfast Wrap Recipe
Chia Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies Recipe

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