The workday ended up turning into more of a work-all-day, you haven’t had a chance to hit the grocery store yet this week and the pantry isn’t looking too promising—but you’ve got a houseful of hungry people wondering what’s for dinner. Before surrendering to the DoorDash app, take another look at your inventory and consider bending the mealtime rules a bit. You might not have the makings of a traditional dinner on hand, but you probably have the ingredients to whip together one of the most magical concepts in meal planning history: breakfast for dinner.
In addition to the high deliciousness factor, enjoying a morning meal in the evening also can be a real time-saver. Many breakfast foods can be whipped together in just 10 to 15 minutes, notes Toby Amidor, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., FAND, nutrition expert and author of "The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook."
“Having breakfast for dinner helps break up the monotony of dinner and also makes eating fun,” she notes. “You can find breakfast recipes to enjoy for dinner that are quick and easy. You can even meal-prep some recipes like a vegetable quiche or a Mexican egg wrap.”
Health coach Liza Baker adds that having breakfast for dinner can be a great way to use up any leftovers you might have on hand. “If you consistently make extra of everything you cook, you'll end up with a plethora of ingredients you can call on to whip up breakfast for dinner at least one night a week,” she says.
11 Nutrient-Rich Breakfast Choices
Of course, not all breakfast items make wise dinner choices. Registered dietitian Summer Yule recommends skipping the foods that are highest in refined flour and added sugar, such as many cold cereals, muffins and toaster pastries.
Instead, opt for these healthier, nutrient-rich options:
- Eggs are packed with filling protein and contain very few calories (only 70 per large egg). “Making an omelet with cheese and veggies covers additional food groups and could not be easier,” Yule says. “And if you use chopped, frozen veggies to make your omelet, you don't even have to do any cutting.”
- Yule likes to think of plain, unsweetened oatmeal as a canvas for nutrient-rich fruits, nuts and seeds. “Plain, unsweetened oatmeal is one of the best cereal options, since it is a whole grain with no added sugar,” she points out. Plus, it contains soluble fiber that promotes healthy cholesterol levels.
- Yule says that plain (unsweetened) Greek yogurt is packed with protein, calcium and beneficial probiotics. “If you don't like plain yogurt, try the lower-sugar varieties (Chobani is one brand that offers lower sugar yogurt),” she suggests. And Amidor recommends topping Greek yogurt with nuts and fruit.
- Baker recommends cooking up a healthy hash for dinner. In a skillet with butter or olive oil, sauté finely chopped onions, peppers and any other raw veggies you like. Add leftover cooked potatoes, a cooked protein and cooked veggies. Stir until heated through, add salt and pepper to taste and serve with eggs any style (or not).
- Smoked salmon is one of Yule’s favorite ways to get some important omega-3s. She recommends preparing a whole-grain bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon, which covers several food groups. “Consider adding some slices of tomato, cucumber or roasted red pepper to get some produce into the mix,” she suggests.
- Regardless of what you’re preparing, Baker says it’s always good to include some type of veggie or fruit. “Most American breakfast foods provide plenty (or too much) protein, fat and carbs,” she warned. “Your goal is to include some micronutrients from fruits and veggies to help those macronutrients do their best work in your body.”
- Protein shakes and smoothies can work well as a dinner option, especially if you’re looking for something light, slightly sweet and different, notes registered dietitian Ilana Muhlstein.
- Prepare a crustless quiche (or frittata) using any veggies, meats, beans, cheese and herbs you have on hand, Baker suggests. “Leftovers go in easily!”
- Fritters are another of Baker’s breakfast-for-dinner go-tos. To make them, combine two cups of cooked, leftover grains and finely chopped vegetables with one egg and one to two tablespoons of flour, plus salt and pepper to taste. Cook as you would pancakes on a griddle with a little olive oil, butter, ghee or coconut oil. Serve with eggs any style or with apple (or other fruit) sauce or a little sour cream.
- Amidor loves to prepare shakshuka for dinner, which can be ready in less than 30 minutes. She serves it with her Israeli style salad and crusty whole-grain bread.
- Not only are breakfast foods quick, easy and budget-friendly, they can also be filling and nutritious when you choose the right foods.