In praise of the unconventional breakfast

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    Clockwise from top left: sweet potato dhal; mash with onion gravy; kimchi noodles; root vegetable soup with buttered sourdough toast; leftover Thai takeaway; roast veg, peas and mash

    I’ve always been a fan of less-than-mundane morning meals, and ‘dinner for breakfast’ is my favourite way to start the day. Before you jump straight to thinking I’m crazy, breakfast wasn’t a big deal for most of history and, when people did start the day by eating, it was usually made up of whatever was in the house, often leftovers. Breakfast didn’t have a list of prescribed foods until US marketing campaigns were created to sell first cereal (in the late 1800s), then bacon (1930s) — both of which were incredibly successful, and changed the way most Westerners thought about their morning meal. I don’t like being told what to do, especially when it comes to how I eat, and eschewing these fabricated “rules” has led to some of my most enjoyable mornings.

    Here are some very good reasons why it’s worth hopping on the Weird Breakfast Bandwagon…

    It cuts down on waste

    Leftover stir-fried veg and rice? That’s breakfast. Mashed potato and gravy? Breakfast. Soup? Add some bread or toast and you’ve got yourself some breakfast. Once you open your mind (and your mouth!) to the idea that breakfast can consist of literally anything, it suddenly provides you with an extra opportunity to use up your leftovers every single day.

    It cuts down on time

    The idea of ‘cook once, eat twice’ definitely applies here. Most evenings, I cook more than we need for dinner, and all I have to do to prepare my breakfast and lunch for the following day is transfer the surplus to some containers.

    It keeps things interesting

    It’s easy to fall into a food rut, especially when you work full-time. Swapping in a variety of foods for standard breakfast fare keeps me interested and excited for my first meal of the day, every day.

    It helps to fit in five-a-day

    I’m always trying to increase the amount of plant foods in my diet, and I find that starting at breakfast really helps. My weekend breakfasts, in particular, often include a pile of veggies, whether it’s a large salad plate with some smoked salmon and brown bread, or a pile of sautéed spinach, onions and mushrooms topped with a healthy dose of kimchi and a fried egg. Midweek, it’s often a bowl of hearty veggie soup that packs in at least one or two servings.

    It works with batch-cooking

    Just like lunch and dinner, batch-cooking is super handy for breakfast, too. If you’re prepared to eat the same foods for a few days in a row, why not mix up the mealtimes at which you eat them? During the winter, I make a pot of soup, stew or dhal every Sunday, but then alternate enjoying that week’s dish for breakfast and lunch so I don’t lose interest.

    It’s got low or no sugar

    I’m not in possession of a sweet tooth myself but, if you’re trying to cut down on your sugar intake, having leftover dinner or lunch as breakfast removes the opportunity to eat something sweet. Plenty of traditional breakfast foods, like cereals and pastries, are high in sugar; leftover fish pie is not.