Most parents who feed their children sugar-coated cereals for breakfast probably think their kids won't eat anything else - except maybe donuts. And even cereals that contain more sugar than cereal grain - and there are dozens of them - do contain a few vitamins and minerals. The problem is that many of these highly sweetened cereals contain as much sugar as a candy bar, and often more.

Of equal concern is the form in which the grain comes in such cereals. Because it is si highly processed, it has been robbed of most of its fiber and protein, which is the reason for eating grains in the first place.

Many conscientious parents have tried hot or unsweetened cold cereals, only to have the children turn up their noses.

But the alternative to sugar-encrusted cereals is not, as some cereal industry people suggest, no breakfast at all. Admittedly, the other choices require that you be open-minded. But why can't people eat cheeseburgers, tuna fish sandwiches and pizzas made on English muffins as the first meal of the day?

Only habit and convention keep most of us from trying something new. And only sheer desperation made me try soup and meat sauce when my children were young.They, too, wanted sugar-coated cereals, or nothing. After I figured out that they would eat soup in time of the day, I started serving it for breakfast. It worked. So will a number of other ideas, if you are willing to do a little planning ahead.

Planning ahead doesn't mean much more than making enough macaroni and cheese or meatloaf for dinner so that there are leftovers for breakfast; preparing a tuna filling the day before to that it can be put between two slices of bread in the morning, or deviling some eggs for children who won't touch one that is soft-cooked but think the kind you take on picnics are wonderful. For the slightly more ambitious, breads baked of several grains produce a far better source of protein than sugar-coated cereals, especially when served with a slice of cheese.

If you are willing to experiment with breakfast, here are some ideas to start the ball rolling.

This recipe and the one for Instant Breakfast are the very simple alternatives to the processed liquid breakfast drinks.

BREAKFAST NOG

(2 servings) 2 ripe bananas 1 1/2 cups cold milk

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Cut bananas in quarters and place in electric blender with remaining ingredients. Cover and blend until smooth.

INSTANT BREAKFAST (1 serving) 1 cup cold milk 1 egg 3 tablespoons undiluted orange juice

Place ingredients in blender and blend at high speed until frothy. Including froth, this makes 2 cups.

BEEF AND BARLEY SOUP

An old family favorite, but any soup is fine for breakfast if your children like soup.

(Makes about 2 1/2 quarts) 2 cups canned tomatoes 1/4 pound boneless chuck, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes Salt and pepper to taste Celery tops from 1/2 bunch 2 sprigs parsley 1/4 cup regular barley 1 cup tomato juice 1/2 pound green beans, tips cut off, washed and cut in half 1/2 cup coarsely chopped rutabaga 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped cabbage 1/2 cup sliced carrots 1/2 cup sliced celery 1/2 cup thinly sliced onion

Drain liquid from tomatoes and reserve. Add enough water to liquid to make one quart. Place in large kettle with beef, salt and pepper to taste, celert tops and parsley. Cover and cook slowly for one hour. Add barley. Cook one hour longer.Remove and discard celery tops and parsley. Add tomato juice, reserved tomatoes and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook about 45 minutes.

Refrigerate if not served immediately. Freeze, if desired, in portions suitable for family use. To serve, bring to a boil.

GRANOLA

This cereal is rich in protein, iron, fiber and CALORIES. Because of its calorie count, it is not for everyone. 3 cups rolled oats 1 1/2 cups wheat germ 1/2 cup dry skim milk powder 1 cup silvered or coarsely chopped almonds 1/2 cup sesame seeds 1 cup hulled sunflower seeds 1/2 cup vegetable oil 1/4 to 1/2 cup honey 1 cup raisins 1/2 cup dried apricots, cut up

Toast the oats in a shallow pan at 300 degrees for 15 minutes. In a large bowl combine the wheat germ, skim milk powder, almonds, sesame and sunflower seeds. Heat the oil and honey just until warm. Combine with mixture in the bowl. Combine contents of bowl with toasted oats and spread in several shallow pans in thin layers. Continue toasting, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes more, or until ingredients are toasted. Spoon into large container; add raisins and apricots and mix. Cool and store in tightly covered container in the refrigerator. Serve with milk.

MIKE'S BREAD

Crunchy, spongy textured with a nut-like flavor, this bread will keep for several days in the bread box, longer in the refrigerator, and, of course, freezes beautifully.

Makes 2 loaves 1 cup cornmeal 1 cup hot whole wheat cereal, uncooked 1 cup regular oatmeal 2 tablespoons yeast 1/2 cup honey 2 teaspoons salt 2 cups whole wheat flour 6 to 8 cups unbleached flour

Heat 4 cups water to boiling. Pour boiling water over cornmeal, wheat cereal and oatmeal; cool. Meanwhile, add yeast to 1 cup warm water and "proof." (The yeast is proofed when small bubbles appear on the surface, in about 5 to 7 minutes.) When water grain mixture is cooled to about 100 degrees or so, add yeast mixture to it. Then add honey, 1 cup water and salt. Stir well. Add whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well with spoon between additions. Add unbleached flour, about one cup at a time, mixing with a spoon.

Turn out a well floured board and knead for 5 minutes. Dough will be sticky. Place in well-greased bowl, cover with damp cloth, and place in warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, or until finger pressed into dough leaves imprint, (about one hour).

Punch dough down: turn out on lightly floured board. Shape into two loaves and place in well-greased 9-by-5-inch loaf pans. Cover with wax paper and allow to rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, until dough comes up almost to top of pans, (about one hour).

Bake at 350 degrees for about 65 minutes, or until loaves test done. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks before slicing.

NACHOS

From the land of Tex-Mex, but without the hot pepper on top. 8 pieces 2 corn tortillas (if frozen, defrost) 2 ounces Cheddar cheese, cut into 8 wedge-shaped pieces

Cut each tortilla into four triangles. Place cheese on top of triangles and run under broiler until cheese melts.

OTHER BREAKFAST SUGGESTIONS:

Peanut butter and banana sandwich

Leftover macaroni and cheese, reheated in toaster oven or on top of stove.

Egg salad or tuna with apple salad sandwich

Grilled cheese sandwich

English muffin halves topped with tomato paste, mozzarella cheese and sprinkled with oregano and broiled

Leftover meatloaf sandwich

Leftover fried rice, reheated in a little oil in a skillet.

Hard-cooked eggs delived with a little grated cheese, mustard and just enough mayonnaise to soften.