Before the pandemic, did you or your family sit down to enjoy for what might have been considered the most important meal of the day? Breakfast, regrettably, had become an afterthought for many people and families on-the-go. A 2019 survey of 2,000 Americans by OnePoll and Sabra found the average person ate breakfast just three times a week, while 13% rarely, if ever, ate the meal.
Increasingly, people turned to portable options as they rushed out the door, like a cup of oatmeal or cereal, bar, breakfast sandwich or bowl. Or maybe it was just a cup of coffee. Guilty as charged.
2020 May have swung the pendulum. For many of us, working or schooling from home for the greater part of 2020 hasn’t come without its challenges: constant Zoom, FaceTime, Google or Skype calls, barking dogs, meowing cats and not a single ounce of alone time has changed the reality of work as we know it. And whether you were once accustomed to fancy office perks, perhaps including endless free coffee or snacks, or had your food routine down to a perfectly packed lunch box, the way we eat during working hours has transformed as well.
Little did I know or fully appreciate how important breakfast was growing up. We always, always had to eat breakfast. Eggs (scrambled, fried, poached, hard boiled), cereal (hot or cold), French toast, sometimes fried fish and grits. We had very long days; my sister and I "commuted" by public buses out of our neighborhood to attend school so we didn't want to be hungry. I’d occasionally sneak a bite out of my sandwich for lunch if I was really famished.
I followed the breakfast routine when I had my own family. "Eat something or just carry it with you to eat on the bus" I'd yell out the door, as the kids raced to catch an early morning bus. Sometimes I didn't have time to eat or pack breakfast and had to rely on a coffee and bagel or sweet roll from a sidewalk cart in New York City. The vendors even knew what "regulars" had every day and would have it ready to hand to us when we got to the window. Now, THAT was customer service. The bank where I began working in after college had a cafeteria and if I got there early enough, I could have a hot breakfast which was such a treat. Cinnamon raisin oatmeal! Oh, yes!
Hot oatmeal reminds me of childhood, even though I wasn't a fan back then. My sister recently told me she enjoyed the best oatmeal of her life when I prepared it for her as she recovered from heart surgery a few years ago. I prepare slow cooked oats with milk, water, a little butter, maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger and some freshly grated orange peel. Slowly cooked and stirred often. Topped with granola and fresh fruit...you’ll be fueled for several hours after a bowl of Pat’s oatmeal!
Breakfast can be many things and doesn't have to be traditional "breakfast" foods. I've enjoyed soup, salads and leftovers for breakfast and was glad to have them. Food is fuel for me when I start the day.
As we look ahead to the future of breakfast, many people may revert back to the fast-paced pre-pandemic lifestyle — providing a boost to snack bars, drinks and other offerings that have struggled during the outbreak. However, for some of us, we'll continue the breakfast habits adopted earlier in life or perhaps just resurrected during the last year. Consumers will have gotten used to their new morning routine, while others will value the benefits that go with a less hectic morning, including more time to connect with their family. I'm going to stick with the latter. What about you?
Pat Bennett is the founder and President of Pat's Granola, a Cleveland based food company. Pat's Granola is sold online at www.patsgranola.com and is also available at several Northeast Ohio businesses including:
Troubadour Coffee Roasters www.troubadourcoffeeroasters.com
Sports and Spine Physical Therapy www.sportspine.com
Local Flavors Shoppe www.localflavors.net
Rittman Orchards and Farm Market www.rittmanorchards.com
Cleveland Hopkins International Airport www.clevelandairport.com
Locle Box www.loclebox.com
Market Wagon Northeast Ohio www.marketwagon.com
Made Cleveland www.madecleveland.com
Mister Brisket www.misterbrisket.com