I'm gonna come clean here. Before I started working at Extra Crispy, I wasn't a breakfast person. The dishes, oh hell yeah. An egg and cheese on a roll is probably my most favorite food on the planet, followed closely by shrimp and grits. I spent an entire year of my life attempting to master the art of biscuit making, and I could probably and joyfully write you a graduate-level thesis on savory oatmeal. But rarely did I eat these things in the morning. In fact, I didn't eat in the morning, period. I scarfed down breakfast foods on midnight diner runs, Waffle House pilgrimages, and almost daily for a very late lunch during a several-month period while I was working from home, finishing writing my book. But consuming anything other than coffee before, say, 2 p.m.? Unthinkable. I’m just not built that way, I thought. 

As it happened, I was sitting in a diner enjoying a post-therapy omelet when a friend told me that Time Inc. was launching an all-breakfast site. Oh, I thought. Ohhhhh… I can fake it ‘til I make it, right? By the time I’d plowed through my hash browns, I had a plan in place. I was going to become a breakfast person. Here’s how I got there.

I made it a habit

I pledged to eat something—anything—before I left the house each day, unless I knew that there would be breakfast served at work. (We’re a breakfast site. It happens.) Didn’t have to be crazy elaborate, or multi-course, just something. This wasn’t just a random whim, either. My healthcare provider had identified that I have a genetic mutation that is best managed with vitamins and supplements that should be taken with food. She’d prefer that I sat down to a scramble, fruit, greens, grass-fed meat, and goat milk. I told myself that just getting something into my mouth before running out the door was good enough. I’ve stuck with it.

I planned ahead

If I am scraping around in my cupboards in the morning before work, it’s just not gonna happen. Before I turn in for the night, I make sure that there’s something easily edible on hand. It might be leftover Szechuan food, barbecue I can stuff into an omelet, or a cold kebab, I could make a batch of grits to dole out throughout the week, or I make sure that there’s some manner of carb (often a leftover roll or bread slice that came along with delivery food) that I can easily slather with butter or hummus (sweet breakfast just isn’t for me). The less I have to think about it, the more likely it is that I’ll do it.

I sat down like an actual human being

I confess, I’m a serial slapper of the snooze button, and my time gets crunched in the morning. Still, to metamorphose from a boneless, wordless, crusty-eyed dreamer into a functional member of the workforce, I allow myself several minutes to sit down with coffee and whatever I’ve scrounged up, watch a little bit of news, and come to life. By the time I arrive at the office, I can form actual sentences and make facial expressions of my own volition.

I set breakfast meetings

Over the years, friends and colleagues would suggest meeting for breakfast before work, and I would either cackle hysterically, or look around for the hidden prank camera. Really? Be social, articulate, and somewhat well-mannered in the pre-work hours on purpose? But I’ve come to truly embrace the breakfast meeting at a restaurant. It’s a bit of civility that sets a warm tone that carries me through the rest of the day. After work, it’s too easy to be exhausted and blow things off, but if it’s the first thing in the morning, it’s an appointment I’ll keep.

I ritualized it

If workdays are for grab-and-scarf, weekend breakfasts are for savoring. These are the days that I’ll plot it it: Here are the slow-scrambled eggs, the grits, the clever ham and bacon that I bought while traveling, planning for an occasion such as this. I’m not just cooking for myself, either. My husband leaves the house much earlier on weekdays than I do, but this is our chance to start the day together, planning how we’ll fill the rest of the hours. It’s a little luxury, this time, and if I’m clever enough, I’ll even make a little extra to have on hand for Monday morning when the cycle starts again.