Breakfast in the classroom: example six

Cornflakes, string cheese (far left), milk, OJ

Kids are not offered chocolate milk for breakfast; the only option is white milk. My students like cereal and I’m happy that the string cheese is there. When I’m at home eating breakfast in the morning, I’ll eat cereal by itself most of the time. Instead of cheese, I’ll eat fruit with my cereal. For breakfast today I ate cereal and half a peach. Thoughts on cereal?

(Working on a BlogHer Food post…hopefully tomorrow…)

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29 Responses to Breakfast in the classroom: example six

  1. Emmy May 25, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    Cereal is convenient, but doesn't seem like it has "staying power" with my 7yo. We try to incorporate more protein in the am to limit snacking midmorning. How hard would it be for the cafeteria to to give the kids some scrambled eggs (no attitude there, very grateful that these kids are getting fed, just genuinely curious).

  2. Anonymous May 25, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    Not enough protein for starting the day. You'll burn through it fast and need more sustenance before it's close to lunch time. Yogurt or toast with a nut butter would be a good addition.

    I think of a small bowl of cereal as more of a snack. If I'm hungry at bedtime I'll have a bowl (sometimes with sliced banana) and it helps me fall asleep.

  3. The Table of Promise May 25, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    I just think cereal is not that filling. I don't find as much issue with sausage bisquits as I do with cereal which may be high in calories, but is also high insugar and leaves the kids hungry 90 minutes later.

  4. Katie May 25, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

    Most of my students art starving by mid morning after cereal or crashing since they mostly just offer high sugar cereals such as cinnamon toast crunch or frosted flakes.

  5. Dorothy May 25, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

    I love cereal, my kids love cereal, but it's really not filling enough. I try to get them to eat a protein in addition to the cereal in the morning.

  6. Firefly May 25, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

    Cheerios. Chocolate cheerios, cinnamon cheerios, multi-grain cheerios, and, my favorite, the original cheerios. Lower calories, appeals to kids, and even when they're sweetened, the sugar was only increased by a few grams. You get the sweet chocolaty or cinnamony flavour you're craving, but without tons of excess sugar. No, not terribly filling compared to, say, sausage biscuits, but it's also fantastic to snake on throughout the day. Or late at night.

  7. Meg May 25, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

    I've never been a fan of cold cereal, and I don't find it has much staying power. (Oatmeal is a different story–I hated it as a kid, and adore it now!) I have recently become a fan of mixing granola with Greek yogurt as a quick and easy breakfast or lunch, though–the protein from the yogurt helps keep me fuller longer.

  8. Liz May 25, 2011 at 3:08 pm #

    Cereal is good with something else. We like do do protein with breakfast for our boys. It helps keep them going longer without wanting a junky snack.

  9. Milehimama @ Mama Says May 25, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    This is where I part ways with the "real food" community. We eat cereal, though I buy the kind without HFCS and with at least 4g. of fiber (even for the kids). Although our special treat on birthdays is that the birthday child gets to pick out any cereal they want for breakfast (well, not ANY cereal, we're still dye free).

    My kids actually like to eat leftovers for breakfast.

    I LOVE cereal, especially granola. I will eat it for breakfast, for a snack, even for dinner. I usually eat half and half bran flakes/granola to cut the sweetness and give it a bit more staying power.

  10. lauren_015 May 25, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    Not only does cereal not keep me full, but it leaves me terribly bloated and miserable, even if it's low sugar. So I guess I don't have a problem with cereal; it's just not for me. My stomach generally prefers that I stick to oatmeal.

  11. Anonymous May 25, 2011 at 3:38 pm #

    I think cereal is awesome! I even eat is as a night time snack sometimes. However I think you should choose one that doesn't have too much sugar, and has a good amount of fiber. Also, I do not think a bowl of cereal is enough food to get you through the morning. I think it should be paired with some type of protein and fresh fruit!

  12. Anonymous May 25, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

    I think that this is a great breakfast. Often better than what I eat at home. The student is getting a serving of grains, 2x dairy, fruit. While you may complain it does not fill you up, it is far better than nothing. Schools have budgets. Donate money to your school food service program if you dislike it. They get Zero district funding. They only get what the federal/state gives them, plus a small amount from full-pay/reduced. You may say well I can make that meal for .50 cents, but you are not factoring in labor, equipment, utilities. Labor costs are normally 50% for the cost of any meal, even cereal. It has to be counted, inventoried etc.
    While there is room for improvement in the school meals programs, I feel they do a marvelous job.
    Interesting article here: http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2011/05/18/federal_food_police_against_business_and_science_99026.html

  13. Christina May 25, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

    Cereal is an excellent night time snack but for breakfast it doesn't have enough protein for me and then I am STARVING by lunch, even if I suppliment an additional protien.

    I absolutely do NOT understand why chocolate milk is the devil. It has only a tiny bit more sugar than regular milk. Seriously do the comparison on nutrition information. Perhaps "they" want us to feel shame for the chocolate. Geeze

  14. Anonymous May 25, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

    Really? Cheese with cereal? Is this a regional thing I'm not aware of?

    I used to have cereal for breakfast growing up, and I never noticed myself ravenously hungry on cereal mornings. Oatmeal on the other hand leaves me scrambling for food an hour or two later.

    I don't think scrambled eggs would be super practical for Mrs. Q's school (I seem to recall that the kitchen is equipped only with heat and serve ovens, correct?) But I wonder if the breakfast supplier offers hard boiled eggs? I've seen them for sale in snack packs at the grocery store and even gas stations… could you imagine breakfasts with a hard boiled egg, a bran muffin, milk, and some fruit? What a way to start the day!

  15. Anonymous May 25, 2011 at 6:09 pm #

    Oh, and I am SO GLAD to hear that the kids don't get chocolate milk for breakfast. Yay!

  16. Mommy Lisa May 25, 2011 at 7:00 pm #

    I feel like the cheese and milk add good protein to the cereal, so I think this looks great.

  17. Anonymous May 25, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

    I eat gluten-free cereal every morning with ground flaxseed. Fast and easy!

  18. Anonymous May 25, 2011 at 10:53 pm #

    My school serves cereal nearly every day, probably 4 days a week. With chocolate milk. (Same company supplies the food.) There is most always a muffin involved. Never anything warm, only occasionally a piece of fruit if they are going to spoil. Bleh. The kids don't eat much of it, and it's pretty gross to see chocolate milk dumped on top of corn pops.

  19. Kim May 25, 2011 at 11:23 pm #

    What strikes me about this breakfast is that it's devoid of fiber. Corn flakes are highly refined and processed. I'd rather see something whole grain like shredded wheat, oatmeal, or bran flakes (caveat regarding bran flakes: although not coated with sugar, I have yet to find a brand that doesn't contain added sugar but in some cases, sugar is pretty low on the ingredient list). Kids in this country typically aren't used to low sugar or no sugar cereals so I realize this would be a tough sell.

    I'd also prefer to see whole fruit in this breakfast rather than juice. The classic banana, orange, apple, or pear would suffice, but how about some raisins, a dried plum or two (yes, prunes), or a couple of dried apricots to provide some variety.

    I've never tried it, but I've heard that some people like to mix instant oatmeal with yogurt and it makes a yummy breakfast concoction. It needs to sit for awhile (overnight I think) so the oats can absorb moisture from the yogurt. Some people like to stir in things like fruit, seeds, nuts, and/or nut butter. This sounds like something schools could try out. (After writing the preceding, I realized that I have mixed muesli–which contains some rolled oats–with yogurt, chopped dates, and walnuts and it's pretty yummy especially if it sits for 20 min. or more.)

    I used to work with a woman who was born in England. Her family moved to the U.S. when she was in elementary school. Almost every morning when I worked with her, she ate a bowl of Wheatabix soaked in milk. She never added sugar or sweetener to the concoction and I don't think Wheatabix contain added sugar. She told me she had been eating it just like that (unsweetened) since she was a little kid in England and it was her comfort food. That indicates to me that kids are capable of liking unsweetened breakfasts if that's what their palates are accustomed to. Of course, these days a parent in the U.S. would also have to ban TV, movies, the Internet, and virtually all forms of media if they wanted to raise their kids that way. Marketing sugary crap to impressionable kids is big business here in the land of the overweight free and the home of the diabetic brave.

    I really like Milehimama's idea of mixing equal parts granola and bran flakes to "average down" the sugar in granola. I'm going to try that out myself. (Gracias, Milehimama!)

  20. Anonymous May 26, 2011 at 12:55 am #

    My thoughts on cereal are mostly that it's fine, if you limit the sugar. Obviously Cheerios and Shredded Wheat are good. But with other cereals, you have to watch very carefully. Some of the most "healthy" cereals are actually quite high in sugar (think Raisin Bran and most granolas). My rule is to choose cereals with 5 grams of sugar or less per hundred calories (serving size varies wildly, so I don't do it that way), and at least half as much fiber as sugar. Leaves me with things like Quaker Oat Squares (really good), Shredded Spoonfuls, and a few carefully selected Granolas.

  21. Anonymous May 26, 2011 at 12:59 am #

    Love cereal, but I can't do it for breakfast; there's no staying power with that sort of fuel, and the milk leaves me farty and unfit for social interaction later in the day.

    I wouldn't say I'm exactly lactose intolerant, but dairy does make me gassy.

    We keep three cereals around at all times for the kids: generic Cheerios, Rice Krispies, and maybe Life or Kix. Sometimes I will buy Cap'n Crunch and hide it from them. I'll eat a bowl with milk for dessert. It's good.

  22. Anonymous May 26, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

    I love cereal! However, I've been trying to reduce the amount of processed food that I eat and as far as "whole grains" go, cereal is about as processed as it can get. For breakfast I've been eating oatmeal with raisins or greek yogurt with sliced fruit in it, both are low cost and very easy to make in large amounts. That being said, if these kids aren't being fed breakfast at home and are eating the school-provided lunch then processed cereal is the least of their worries so I say two thumbs up for the school's effort and hopefully they will be able to make some improvements in the future.

  23. Sara May 26, 2011 at 2:59 pm #

    I used to eat cereal for breakfast when I was little and I never got hungry before lunchtime. But now if I try to eat cereal for breakfast, it just doesn't stay with me long enough!

    I think one other commenter mentioned something like that, too. I know that a person's metabolism changes throughout life, but I would think with the all-carb cereal, it would have been the other way around – super-hungry as a child eating the all-carb breakfast since metabolism is higher when young.

    Anybody have any insight on that?

    P.S. Our kids have cereal every day for breakfast and are never hungry before lunch – but then again, their lunchtime is super-early in the day at school so that they can rotate all the grades through the cafeteria for lunch. My kindergartener's lunch starts at 10:35am!!! So, at our school, parents sign up to bring snack for one week each semester in kindergarten and 1st grade so they don't get too hungry in the afternoon.

  24. Anonymous May 26, 2011 at 8:48 pm #

    My eight year old will eat grape nuts (or kashi nuggets) with yogurt, which is more filling and lasts longer than your average sugar cereal. I always look at the label if we are buying regular cereal, because some of them are not only high in sugar, but also have a lot of sodium and almost zilch for vitamins/ minerals.

  25. Anonymous May 27, 2011 at 4:20 pm #

    I'm a fan of cereal unless it's a sugar cereal… One of my favourite breakfasts (or sometimes lunches) is an organic no-sugar muesli with plain yoghurt and a spoon of real maple syrup. It's funny that I say this about sugar cereal, because tbh when I was a small child I wouldn't eat breakfast and my mother, frustrated and desperate to get something into me before school, let me eat frosted flakes and fruit loops. no joke. Nowadays I'm horrified by them, but I admit that I ate them. Frankly, I also like oatmeal, whole wheat toast. So in summary, it's OK… in moderation.

  26. ms. T May 27, 2011 at 8:36 pm #

    I used to be a cereal fan but I've found that cereal just doesn't stay with you long enough. It just turns to sugar in your bloodstream and leaves you craving more sugar in the day. Eating a combination of a high fiber food and a good, lean protein sets a much better tone for the day. Plus, who needs all the "junk" they put in cereal these days. Can you really pronounce have the additives? Do you even know what they are? Yuck!

    My school district does offer a cheese omelet a couple times a week, so the kids do have that option. I think it's much better than all the high sugar cereals and muffins that are offered. I'd love to see more high protein options available for our kids at school.

  27. ashley October 6, 2011 at 8:10 am #

    we do cereal for breakfast a lot just because its fast so we can get out the door on time, but after seeing all the sugar filled cereals at school we always eat it at home, and with fruit if possible. Not to mention our school does serve chocolate milk at breakfast and that they dont even bother to try to encourage the children to get the white instead, but ill try not to start ranting about my issues with that situation

  28. Rachel November 25, 2012 at 11:08 pm #

    You need to be careful when it comes to cereals – I don’t think they qualify as a good or healthy breakfast for anyone! Just start reading the ingredients. Sugar is in the top 4 ingredients of every cereal I’ve checked so far, except for some types of plain muesli. I know Rice Krispies has sugar as the second ingredient! So I doubt corn flakes is any better. Plus, 80% of processed food in America contains GMOs – and corn flakes (unless organic) counts among that number! GMOs are really harmful to human health, as many independent studies show. And let’s not get started on dairy and BGH… I don’t think this lunch qualifies as healthy AT ALL.

  29. Anonymous March 15, 2013 at 9:38 pm #

    I know this is a REALLY late response to this post, but cereal is one of my obsessions. If I DON’T eat Shredded Wheats in the morning, it starts my entire day off on the wrong foot. I can’t eat protein in the morning (and I try to limit my meat consumption, anyhow, so no sausages or bacon for me), and Shredded Wheats have more than enough fiber to tide me over until lunch. Even giant meals of toast and fruit or pancakes and eggs (the few times I end up eating late enough in the morning to justify eggs) just don’t do it for me. I’m obviously not in the majority, though.

    I think the issue is what is being considered “cereal.” There’s obviously a gulf between Trix and Raisin Bran, or Cookie Crisp and Shredded Wheats.

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