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Breakfast of Champions

Caitlin Connell


Margaret Beck

UCLA Sloan Center on Everyday Lives of Families
Working Paper No. 61


This paper peers into the lives of working families and examines the preparation and consumption of the breakfast meal throughout the week. Using filmed breakfast preparations and breakfast consumptions of 3 carefully chosen (non-random) middle-class families in Los Angeles County during 4 days for each family – 2 weekdays and 2 weekends – I was able to study the following aspects: how much time do the families devote to preparing the breakfast meal – and how much of a factor is the day of the week? Who prepares the meal – does the father or children help, or is the meal still the duty of the traditional cooker, the mother? And what are these families eating – quick fixes, fully cooked meals, healthy or unhealthy?

Of the 12 breakfast meals, the average time spent preparing was 10:27. The average of the 6 weekday meals was 11:42, while the average of the 6 weekend meals was 9:12. In terms of who prepared, breakfast meals were a free for all. Family members either prepare their own breakfast, or if it is was a large meal prepared for all, multiple people help prepare it. The main food to appear throughout the breakfasts was cereal, followed closely by fruit.

Although previous studies have remarked upon the importance of the breakfast meal in providing children with the required energy for an optimal educational experience, as well as creating an opportune setting in which to strengthen family ties and relationships, many American families remain devoted to a morning plan consisting of individual preparation, unhealthy sweets, or breakfast-skipping. American families with the need for improvement in their breakfast routines can succeed in simple ways. The involvement of just one parent in the meal can accomplish a strong start for a child’s academic day by providing a present role model and by overseeing adequacy of the foods chosen. The families studied in this paper prove that complete breakfasts can be prepared in less than ten minutes, and taking the time to share the meal together can lead to healthy, happy lives and strengthened family bonds.

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