We know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so why do we skip it or blow it off? Breakfast needs respect. With a little pre-planning, we can get breakfast on the table and be out the door, ready to face the day with all of its challenges. Healthy breakfasts help us focus on the pop quiz at school or the dreaded meeting with the CEO.

Europeans know how to do breakfast well with their multigrain dense bread, sliced cheese, breakfast meats or smoked salmon, muesli, fresh fruit and thick yogurt. A European breakfast is easy and it sustains until lunchtime. Americans seem to be stuck with sugar-laden cereal or pastries that leave you hungry before the first recess or 50 emails. A friend of mine always has a piece of warm whole wheat toast and a slice of cheese that melts slightly. She makes it until lunch without raiding the cookie jar or devouring the comp donuts in the office kitchen. Why not try whole grains that can be prepared ahead of time? Or give cheeses, Greek yogurt, smoked salmon, hard-boiled eggs or old-fashioned oatmeal a second try in the morning? Even leftovers from the night before are better than the drive through.

Below are five breakfasts (and some extras for the weekend) you and your kids will enjoy. They are easy to prepare; just add the ingredients to the weekly grocery run. Take 15 minutes Saturday morning and make the LIST for breakfast menus for the week. Then you'll know what your family is eating for a stress-free morning. Everyone will sprint out the door ready to face in the world with all engines fired.

  • Monday: Brown or red quinoa (prepared ahead) with dried cranberries, flax seeds, chia seeds, milk and toasted walnuts. Serve at room temperature.

  • Tuesday: Multigrain toasted bread slices with cheese and ham, and fruit (whatever's seasonal (apples, grapefruit, berries, peaches, nectarines, etc.)

  • Wednesday: Old-fashioned oatmeal (follow the package directions for the microwave), apple chunks, raisins, cinnamon and brown sugar, and fresh-squeezed orange juice (when citrus is in season)

  • Thursday: Grilled cheese on whole wheat toast with a slice of tomato, basil, and a side of grapes, or tuna salad on toast with a thin slice of cheese (make the night before).

  • Friday: Layered bowl of fresh berries, Greek no-fat or 2 percent yogurt; sprinkle with homemade granola. (Make ahead and store in a large container to last a month)

Bonus Breakfast Ideas

  • Yogurt Smoothies: Low-fat or no-fat Greek yogurt, frozen non-sugared berries and some honey whirled together with an immersion blender.

  • Smoked salmon (purchased), with whole wheat bagels, cream cheese, sliced red onions, cream cheese/capers, sliced tomatoes.

  • Have the kids help put together bags of homemade granola in re-sealable bags, and add a banana.

  • Half a banana with crunchy peanut butter and a 120 calorie energy bar, such as Kashi, or make your own.

  • Slices of pears or apples with chunks of cheddar, whole wheat crackers.

  • Fresh figs with blue cheese/aged manchego, and walnuts, homemade banana bread (make three mini-loaves ahead of time and freeze for breakfast).

  • Egg salad on whole wheat toast and a slice of tomato. Cook the eggs in advance, chop the onions and celery in advance and assemble in the morning.

  • Breakfast sandwiches. Toast whole-wheat English muffins, layer with basted eggs, tomato, grated cheese and sliced ham. Broil until bubbling.

  • Homemade breakfast cookies or breakfast bars made ahead and frozen.

Connie Fairbanks, the home chef, is the author of Scratch That: Seasonal Menus and Perfect Pairings, which is organized into seasonal menus and wine pairings, and one page recipes made from scratch. For more info, visit conniefairbanks.com or Follow her "Tips of the Day" on