Getting ready-to-eat breakfasts right

01/06/2015 Help for Parents, Product Reviews

Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day. It is the time kids and adults literally break their overnight fast and give themselves the energy and nutrients needed to get through the day.

However, in these busy times, many kids and adults don’t have the time for a sit-down breakfast and instead leave it last on the priority list. Conveniently-packaged ready-to-eat breakfasts are an attractive alternative, but are they really as good as they claim to be?

What types of ready-to-eat breakfasts are available?

A wide variety of ready-to-eat breakfast alternatives are now available on supermarket shelves. The most common types of ready-to-eat breakfasts are liquid breakfast drinks in Tetra Paks and packaged breakfast bars and biscuits. Packaged snack bars, such as granola bars and cereal bars, are also used as breakfast alternatives.

How does the nutrition content of a ready-to-eat breakfast compare to a normal breakfast?

Liquid breakfast drinks often promise the goodness of cereal and milk in one package, but do they meet their target?

Healthy Kids found Sanitarium’s Up&Go and Oats2Go have a similar protein, carbohydrate and fibre content to their regular breakfast counterparts. However, these pre-packaged options do have a higher sugar and sodium content.

 Sanitarium Up&Go Choc Ice 250mlTwo Weet-Bix and 125ml reduced fat milkSanitarium Oats2GO Cocoa 250ml30g oats and 125 ml reduced fat milk
Energy (kj)815715693739
Protein (g)8.38.5108.1
Total fat (g)3.82.02.34.2
Saturated fat (g)0.51.10.31.5
Carbohydrate (g)29.527.623.525.0
Sugar (g)19.38.5187.5
Dietary fibre (g)4.33.352.9
Sodium (mg)16313815053

So, while there are positive nutrition aspects that tick the boxes for a ready-to-eat breakfast, it is important to be aware that, compared to its traditional counterpart, it might not hit the mark completely.

Before settling in to a routine of frequently using convenience foods for kids’ brekkies, check out the portion size, ingredients list and nutrition information panel and compare. The Eat For Health website has a handy table to help you with this.

When should ready-to-eat breakfasts be used?

When it comes to breakfast, eating something is always better than eating nothing. But keep in mind that breakfast drinks and snacks are usually the equivalent of a whole meal, so its important to remember that these are meal replacements, not side snacks.

Overall, eating a wholesome homemade breakfast is ideal, but quick breakfast alternatives may be a suitable choice to help get the troops going in the morning while meeting their nutritional needs.

What to watch out for when making a choice

Products containing dairy (or a dairy alternative) are an excellent choice to help kids meet their calcium requirements. And when choosing your products, look for and compare the amount of added sugar, saturated fat and sodium.

How to make everyday breakfasts easier

Here are a few budget-friendly ideas for quick and healthy on-the-go breakfasts:

  • Pack a ziplock bag of cereal to snack on with a poppa of plain milk (fresh or UHT).
  • Grab a plastic container and scoop in low fat yoghurt and an untoasted muesli topping.
  • Make a brekkie smoothie; throw in milk, yoghurt, banana and frozen berries and whizz.
  • Make a breakfast sandwich with raisin bread filled with ricotta or nut butter.