This particular struggle is so real.
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Credit: Photo by Mizina via Getty Images

I knew I needed to get my morning routine in order the time I came home from work and noticed that I’d left the stove on from my morning fried egg. Just hours before, I put my yolky fried egg on a piece of avocado toast and rushed out the door to get to work. (Unfortunately, I have a gas stove and I can’t even imagine what my bill will be for this month.) I’m one of those try-to-do-way-too-many-things-in-the-morning people, and making a legitimate breakfast is one of the many tasks I aim to accomplish before heading to the office. However, after my stove mishap, I realized I needed to find smarter, more efficient ways to make breakfast happen; it was time for a breakfast routine overhaul.

I know there are plenty of people who “aren’t hungry in the morning” and tend to skip breakfast, but I need a morning meal that will energize and satiate enough to prevent my stomach from growling in morning meetings and keep me fueled to lunchtime. And I’ve recently learned that by putting in slightly more effort when I grocery shop and prepping my breakfast the night before, I can conquer my morning meals with no stress. Here are some tips that will help you get some food in your system before you start your day.

Prepare the Night Before
Do your best to prep as much as possible the night before. This means you should wash out your tumbler, coffee mug, or insulated travel mug so that it’s ready for you to pour your piping hot coffee or tea into in the morning. Pull all any pantry ingredients that you will need for breakfast out and set them on the counter. They will be there waiting for you in the morning for easier assembly. As you acclimate to a new prep routine in the evenings, it may be helpful for you to put a sticky note (or a few) on your fridge or cabinets with reminders of anything you need to do before bed to make for an easier morning. Even pre-filling your water bottle to have it ready to grab and go will make a difference during the morning rush.

Have the Right Appliances for Coffee and Tea
If you are a morning coffee or tea drinker, you should have the gear that will allow you to fill your mug quickly. For tea, or even a manual pour-over coffee maker, an electric kettle will boil water in less than a few minutes and it will also shut off when the water is boiling. As much as I love my whistling kettle, it’s not the speediest and I obviously run the risk of forgetting to turn off the burner... For coffee drinkers, there are many appliances on the market for making coffee at home, but I find that a simple French press or a pour-over brewer, like the Chemex, are the easiest ways to make coffee at home for one or two people. And again, in this case, an electric kettle can be a huge help in terms of efficiency. When making coffee for the household, a basic pre-programmable coffee maker will do the trick.

Make Overnight or Steamed Oats
Overnight oats are the low-maintenance solution to getting a boost of whole-grain energy in the morning. Simply fill a 16-ounce jar with about ⅓ cup of old-fashioned oats followed by ¾ cups of dairy milk or non-dairy milk and let it chill in the refrigerator overnight. Add a little honey, brown sugar, or agave nectar to lightly sweeten your oats and add a pinch of salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg for spiced-up punch. In the morning, customize your oats further by stirring in nuts or fresh fruit into the jar. You can take the jar on-the-go as-is or pop it into the microwave (without the metal lid) to warm for a quick minute.

My own hack for oats in the morning, sans night-before prep, is to scoop them into a bowl followed by hot boiling water (another chance for your electric kettle to shine!) until it covers the oats fully. I’ll cover the bowl with a plate and let the oats steam while I get dressed. When I come back to the kitchen, I'll stir in a shot of almond milk and mix in my sweetener with a handful of raisins.

Fry or Boil Your Eggs
I am all for frying an egg or two for breakfast, but not so much when I’m rushing. Instead of frying an egg on high heat, turn the heat down to medium or medium-low and allow the egg to cook without the putting it at risk of over-cooking while you are doing other things in the kitchen. (So not an option when it comes to the comparatively needy scrambled egg or omelet, which require your constant attention.) You can already have your nonstick skillet on the stove waiting for you in the morning so you aren't fumbling in your cabinets for it. For a couple of days, you can even wipe the skillet out with a paper towel as it starts to cool and leave it right on the stove for the next morning if you want.

Another hack to enjoying an egg in the morning is to boil a few at the start of the week refrigerate them for easy morning meals in the days to come. Boiled eggs are easy to eat alone with a sprinkle of salt and black pepper or you can slice them up and layer them over mashed avocado and a toasted slice of your favorite bread for a heartier breakfast. The best part is, left unpeeled, boiled eggs are already packaged for breakfast to-go, which makes them ideal when you’re running way behind and need to just grab something you can eat at work.

Credit: Photo by Ali Slagle

Keep Plenty of Fruit on Hand
The easiest fruits to eat in the morning are the ones that you can eat without any prep at all. When you go grocery shopping over the weekend, pick up a few apples, blueberries, grapes, strawberries, bananas, peaches, and oranges. There is also no shame in picking up the pre-cut fruits in the produce section, especially if they include pineapple chunks (because no one has time to butcher a fresh pineapple in the mornings, if ever). For smoothies, bags of pre-cut frozen fruit are also a great option. Of course, you can throw your fruits and a little Greek yogurt in your blender when you wake up, but I never find this to be the quickest process when I’m trying to get out of the house. Thus, I opt to pre-blend my smoothies the night before (really, it all comes back to the night-before prep) and store it in a Mason jar to drink as I walk out the front door.

Know Your Carb(s) of Choice, and Keep It Stocked
Sliced bread is the obvious starchy go-to for the morning time, but I like to switch up my carbs and will often opt for pita bread or a flour tortilla to wrap my eggs in. Both are far more pliable to work with and are also very easy to eat with one hand while I drive (I do not encourage eating and driving, or any level of multitasking and driving… I’m just being honest about how I do things). Kaiser rolls, bagels, and my personal favorite Hawaiian sweet rolls are also great alternatives to sliced bread for breakfast stacks (that can be wrapped and taken to-go if need be) and even faster toast + spread (more on this below) breakfasts. Whatever you find to be the best option for you, make sure you have some in the kitchen before the beginning of the week.

Embrace Tasty Spreads and Sprinkles
Once you figure out your carb of choice, a super-quick breakfast can consist of some sort of toasted (or not) bread and an easy spread such as herb butter, nut butters, cream cheese, Greek yogurt, hummus, or even leftover tomato or pesto sauce. Dress up your spread of choice up with a flavor-packed sprinkling of such seasonings such as the Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel Seasoning, flavored salts, freshly cracked pepper, chia seeds, or crushed red pepper flakes.

Buy A Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker Editor Christopher Michel absolutely swears by this rice cooker that he uses to cook prepare steel cut oats. Given that the price tag is a little hefty, I’d definitely suggest that you use it to actually cook rice as well; that said, Michel says that, on average, he uses the cooker 3-4 times a week for breakfast. There is a specific porridge setting on the rice cooker that allows you to set your oats the night before and have your breakfast ready for you as soon as you wake up. To date, it’s the most used appliance in his kitchen.