School is back in session and for many of us, that means more responsibilities, tighter schedules, and often…less time for food prep. Breakfast especially can take a hard hit if school mornings are chaotic. Even if the start of school doesn’t change your schedule much, it’s rare to find someone who has time in the morning to sit down to a freshly prepared meal, especially as the weather starts to cool, the sun rises later, and your bed feels ever more cozy & comfortable in those early morning hours.
But rather than skipping breakfast or just grabbing a pastry at the coffee shop that will leave you hungry an hour later, do yourself a favor and prepare some healthy items ahead of time that are ready in a jiffy or that you can take with you on your way to work. While the internet is full of make-ahead breakfast ideas, I’ve rounded up some of my favorites to share with you all, plus a few additional recipes that actually sound realistic and manageable for the average working person with morning responsibilities.
Remember to include a source of protein with breakfast to keep you satisfied longer, and to spread your protein intake out throughout the day, which has been shown to be beneficial in helping your body utilize protein most efficiently.
- Mini-Crustless Quiches in Muffin Tins. These are easy to adapt to your preferences with different veggies, cheeses, etc.
- Freezer Veggie Breakfast Burritos. Make a big batch (i.e. half dozen or more) for the entire week. Take out of freezer in the morning and throw in the microwave for ~2 minutes. Use smaller tortillas (8” or so) for portability and cool the filling first before wrapping in a tortilla and freezing to prevent your burrito from becoming soggy. You can change up the recipe based on what ingredients you have available in your fridge; I always recommend going heavy on the non-starchy vegetables, and easy on the potatoes and processed meat (or skip those altogether).
- English Muffin Breakfast Sandwiches. Again, easily adaptable based on what you have available.
- Hard-Boiled Eggs. Ok, so you probably don’t need a recipe, but I wanted to make sure to include these on the list. Having hard boiled eggs prepped and ready in your fridge means you have a perfect, transportable protein source to take along with your fruit smoothie or oatmeal.
- Overnight Kefir Oats. These are really yummy, plus you can start your day with a boost of beneficial probiotics.
- Steel Cut Oats: Given their heartier texture, these stand up to being made ahead of time. You can cook a big bowl on the weekend or whenever you have a chance, then add some milk or water when you warm them up. I love throwing a nut/seed trail mix on top, with a spoonful of honey or jam if you want to sweeten them up.
- Homemade Muesli: Muesli tends to have less sugar and more fiber than granola, especially when homemade and you can limit the dried fruit and any added sweeteners (which I would suggest on the recipe linked above). Can be soaked overnight or added to yogurt/milk in the morning.
- Homemade instant oatmeal: Most instant oatmeal purchased from the store is loaded with sugar and artificial flavors. Instead, make your own at home! This recipe comes from MUS employee Jane Wolery’s blog, who adapted it from the Iowa Extension’s Spend Smart Eat Smart blog. Thank you Jane!
- 4 cups rolled oats or quick cook oats
- Optional mix-ins:
- Chia seeds
- Dried fruit
- Pumpkin pie spice
- Brown sugar (could also add honey or maple syrup right before serving)
Put rolled oats in blender or food processor. Blend for a bit, until you get some fine powder and some regular oat shapes. You could probably powderize about 1 cup of oats and then add 3 cups regular or quick cook oats to that powder. The powder should make a creamier and faster cooking product.
If doing different flavors of packets, take about ½ c. of the oats and put in snack-size bags or containers. Add about 1 tsp of sugar, dried fruits, nuts, chia seeds, etc. If doing all the same, mix “extra” dry ingredients into one large container with oats and then portion out 2/3 c. or so into snack-size bags. You’ll have to experiment with the sugar for a bigger batch or just add it to each portion. When ready to use, pour contents of packet into a bowl, add hot water and let sit until oatmeal is creamy.
- Yogurt Parfaits: These can be made several days in advance, and then if you want a little crunch, you can sprinkle a whole grain cereal on top just before eating.
- Chia Seed Pudding With the chia seeds as a natural thickening agent, it’s possible to make chia seed pudding without yogurt, but in my opinion, the texture if far superior when you do add yogurt.
- Breakfast Muffins. The key to a healthier breakfast muffin is portion size (no oversized muffins please!), less sugar, and hearty ingredients like nuts, seeds, and vegetables to increase prortein and fiber content.
- Tina and Michael’s Nutritional Breakfast Cookies. Thank you to MUS employee Michael Bloom for sharing this recipe!
- 1/4 cup butter, softened 1/2 cup chopped dates
- 1 cup peanut butter 1/4 cup chopped figs
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
- 2 tsp vanilla extract 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 2 large eggs 1/2 cup craisins
- 1/2 cup cider or cold coffee 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 cup flaxseeds
- 1 cup whole wheat flour 1/2 cup coconut
- 2 cups whole oats
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp baking soda
- Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray or lightly grease baking sheets.
- In a large bowl beat together butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in eggs and cider or coffee.
- In a medium bowl stir together flours, oats, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda. Mix flour mixture into peanut butter mixture. Stir in remaining ingredients.
- Drop by ice cream scoopfuls (or 1/4 cup measuring cupfuls) 2-1/2 inches apart on greased cookie sheets. Flatten slightly.
- Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden but still soft.
- Remove from the oven and cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.
- Snickerdoodle Green Smoothie: If made ahead, the avocado may discolor, but a quick stir before eating will make it unnoticeable.
- 1 handful spinach
- 1 frozen banana
- ½ small avocado
- ¼- ½ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- ½ tsp vanilla
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
Directions: Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Serves 1. Adapted from https://rabbitfoodformybunnyteeth.com/
- Make-ahead Smoothie Packs. You can package ingredients for individual smoothies in ziploc bags, then let a bag chill in the refrigerator overnight and add the liquid to blend in the morning.
- You can also prep entire smoothies a couple of days before and store in mason jars to transport. They will require a shake/stir to remix ingredients that may have settled, but they will be all ready to go!
- Mini-Tofu Quiches: Don’t turn up your nose so quickly at the mention of tofu for breakfast! These are delicious and packed with protein.
Happy Breakfast Eating!