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Here are some tips for having a healthy breakfast every day and planning ahead.

Include foods from one or more food groups

Breakfast does not have to be a big meal. It should consist of food from at least one food group, excluding a beverage. Try to include two or more food groups in your breakfast to keep fuller for longer and to improve variety of nutrients provided by the meal. The table below gives examples of foods that can be eaten for breakfast, either alone (first column) or in combination with other types of foods.

  • Ideally, starchy foods eaten at breakfast should have a low or moderate glycaemic index. This means a food where the carbohydrates break down slowly during digestion and so glucose is released slowly into the blood stream. Examples include brown/seeded/wholewheat bread, maize meal porridge (that was cooked the night before) or oats porridge. This can be eaten in combination with one or more of the following foods: fruit, vegetables, low-fat milk/yoghurt/maas, egg, lean meat, legumes, peanut butter or nuts.
  • Examples of a grab-and-go or a ‘packed’ breakfast by using the options given in the table above:
    • A piece of fruit to go and a packed brown bread sandwich with peanut butter;
    • Nut trail mix on the go with unsweetened low-fat yoghurt;
    • Lightly blended smoothie made the night before from low-fat milk, unsweetened low-fat yoghurt/maas and fruit or vegetables;
    • Leftover rice mixed with unsweetened low-fat yoghurt, dried fruit and nuts. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
  • Examples of fillings for sandwiches:
    • Left-over meat and /or vegetables from the night before. For instance, combine left-over chicken with avocado or sweetcorn or with low-fat yogurt and mango chutney or with lowfat mayonnaise, tomato and lettuce;
    • Tuna with low-fat mayonnaise and sweetcorn, gherkins, spring onion, red onion, or cucumber or with lettuce and tomato or with sweetcorn, bell pepper, tomato and lettuce;
    • Grated mozzarella or reduced-fat cheese with left-over coleslaw, onion or tomato, or with chutney or tomato and lettuce;
    • Low-fat cottage cheese with grated carrot, pineapple or apples;
    • Boiled egg and low-fat mayonnaise with lettuce or a curried egg with carrot and lettuce;
    • Avocado and banana;
    • Hummus and grated carrot or with roasted peppers;
    • Peanut butter on its own or with apple or raisins.
  • Infants should be given breastmilk only for the first six months of life. Breast milk contains all the energy, vitamins and other nutrients in the correct amounts and water that the baby needs. Infants should not be given any other food or fluids not even water, except for medicine prescribed by a doctor or nurse. From the age of six months, complementary foods should be introduced and breastfeeding continued until the child is at least two years old.
  • Children under 5 years require full-cream milk instead of fat-free or low-fat milk.

Stick to meal plans and a food budget

  • Create a budget for food. Have an amount in mind and do your best to stick to it. Look at past receipts as a starting point. Compile a menu plan then make a shopping list (See Annexure III for an Example of a Menu Plan and Annexure IV for Example of a Master Shopping List). Be realistic. If you only have 20 minutes to prepare a meal, don’t choose a recipe that is complicated.

Download a sample shopping list


Save money - buy smart!

  • Avoid shopping on an empty stomach.
  • Buy only what is on the shopping list. Use a calculator to help you stick to the budget.
  • If not buying in bulk, use a smaller trolley to control how much food you can actually put in.
  • Look at the top and bottom of the shelf for lower cost foods.
  • Buy store or “no name” brands.
  • Be sure you have enough extra money and storage space to buy in bulk.
  • Buy only foods that your family will use up before it gets spoiled.
  • Dry products like maize meal, wheat flour, rice, pasta and frozen foods keep well for a longer period and therefore can be bought in bulk.

Choose healthier options when buying food

  • Buy brown bread or whole-wheat brown bread rather than white bread as brown bread and whole-wheat bread has more fibre than white bread.
  • Buy porridges that you can cook, such as maize meal, oats and mabele (sorghum meal) which are healthier options than instant cereals and will keep you fuller for longer.
  • Don’t buy tinned meat and processed cold meats such as polony, salami and viennas., their high sodium (salt) and fat content makes them unhealthy. They are also expensive.
  • Buy fewer prepared/ready-to-eat foods, especially muffins, cereal bars/energy bars. They are often higher in sugar, salt and fat.
  • Check the nutritional information table of the label for the fat, sugar and sodium (salt) content of foods. The following cut-offs can be used when looking for healthier alternatives.

    Per 100g food (not per serving):
    • Sugar: < 5g
    • Saturated fat: < 1.5g
    • Sodium: < 120mg
    • Fibre: > 3g

Save time – prepare breakfast the night before

  • Set out dishes, utensils and non-perishable ready-to-serve foods, such as whole-grain bread or ready-to-eat cereals, on the counter the night before.
  • Move refrigerated items, such as low-fat milk, yoghurt and fresh fruit to the front of the refrigerator shelf for easy access.
  • Wash fresh fruit and cut it for fruit cups.
  • Layer fruit, cereal, and low-fat or fat-free yoghurt in a sealable container for a grab-and-go breakfast.
  • Prepare hard-boiled eggs the night before so they are ready for a grab-and-go breakfast or to make an egg sandwich with toasted whole-wheat bread.
  • Cook extra maize meal porridge for the next day’s breakfast when making supper. Maize meal porridge that has been cooked and cooled and then eaten either at room temperature or reheated is healthier than freshly cooked porridge.
  • Oats do not need to be cooked on the stove. Save time by cooking them in a microwave or by soaking it overnight

For more tips and references, download the concept document: