With a little advanced planning, healthy morning meals can easily become part of your weekly routine. Too much planning can be prohibitive, however. I find it overwhelming to shop for a full week’s worth of recipes (breakfast or otherwise) in one fell swoop. So I’ll generally choose two or three recipes to tackle on any given week and then stock up on breakfast basics — plain yogurt, eggs, good bread for toast, and fruit for parfaits or smoothies — to fill in the gaps.
Simple Spinach and Feta Egg Cups:
Whisk six eggs with 1/3 cup milk, a handful of crumbled feta, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, cook 4 cups of chopped spinach in a little olive oil just until wilted, and then fold into eggs. Grease 8 cups of a muffin tin and fill each to the top with the egg mixture. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 18 minutes, or until set in the center. Once cooled, these will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days and are simple and satisfying to eat on the go, whether rewarmed or cold. (You can easily make these dairy-free by using unsweetened nut milk and a cashew-based cheese.)
No-Bake Energy Bars:
I like my energy bars nutty and not too sweet. Picking them up at the store can get costly — plus they’re often loaded with sugar. I rely on these naturally sweetened bars for a quick breakfast or afternoon snack. To make your own, place 2 cups roasted nuts (I like almonds), 2 cups chopped Medjool dates (remove pits), 1 cup rolled oats, and a pinch of salt and cinnamon in a food processor until the mixture comes together with a pasty consistency. This will take several minutes. If it seems too dry, keep going; it’ll get there as the nuts release their oil. Scoop the mixture into a mixing bowl and fold in 1 cup of your favorite energy bar additions (toasted coconut, chocolate chips, dried fruit, or nuts and seeds). Press into an 8-by-8-inch baking dish. Refrigerate for at least two hours, then slice and enjoy. Store the bars individually wrapped in an airtight container for a few days. (For sustainable storage options, see “Safe Food Storage.”)
Always at the Ready
Easy Overnight Oats:
Keep things simple with this easy ratio for two people: In a small bowl, stir together 1 cup rolled oats (not quick-cooking) and 2 cups liquid. (Water works, but full-fat dairy or nut milk, apple or orange juice, and other liquids work too.) Season with a pinch of salt and cinnamon. It’s also nice to add a spoonful of fermented dairy, such as yogurt or kefir, to kickstart a natural fermentation in the oats. Cover and leave overnight at room temperature. Just before serving in the morning, stir in honey or maple syrup, nut butter, or fresh fruit. Overnight oats are fine cold, but many prefer to eat them warm. Soaked oats last several days in the refrigerator, so they’re a great candidate for doubling or tripling on the weekend to enjoy throughout the week.
While smoothies are certainly one of the simpler things to make in the morning, if I’m in a hurry, I’m rarely standing in the kitchen chopping fresh fruit and measuring out ingredients. That’s why I’ve started making single-serving smoothie packs in small freezer containers with just enough fruit, greens, and mix-ins (try your favorite nuts and seeds, or a dollop of nut butter) for one killer smoothie. Aim for about 1 cup total ingredients per bag. Come morning, blend contents with 1 cup of liquid (milk, nut milk, water, or coconut water), and you’re on your way. For a little extra sweetness, blend in 1 to 2 pitted dates or a teaspoon of honey. You can also make ice cubes from coconut water, green tea, or nut milk for a frothier drink.
Stocking the Freezer
Cheesy Chive Breakfast Burritos:
For these one-hand freezer favorites, scramble a dozen eggs with a splash of milk and some salt and pepper in a big, buttered saucepan over low heat. When they appear nearly done, remove from heat and fold in 1-1/2 cups grated cheese and a generous handful of chopped chives. Divide the scramble evenly among eight flour tortillas. Roll tightly into burritos, wrap individually in foil, and freeze. You can reheat them in the foil in a toaster oven or wrap them in a towel and heat in the microwave for a couple minutes. For variety, add leftover roasted veggies, beans, rice, or some spicy chorizo.
Homemade Waffles or Pancakes:
After realizing homemade waffles and pancakes freeze beautifully, I now double the batter for each batch and cook more than I need. I freeze leftovers wrapped individually after cooling for up to a few months. To reheat, we use our toaster oven to thaw and crisp them. If you’re reheating for a crowd, place on a baking sheet and warm them at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 8 minutes.
Get Dressy With Your ToppingsFrom everyday oats to weekend waffles, dressing up your breakfast with a few favorite (or unexpected) toppings is a great way to bring a fresh perspective to the table.
Sweet:• Drizzles: Coconut milk, honey, maple syrup, sorghum syrup
• Fresh or dried fruit
• Shaved dark chocolate
• Spreads: Honeyed ricotta, jam, nut butter
• Toasted coconut flakes
Savory:• Drizzles: Olive oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, Sriracha
• Fresh herbs
• Grated or crumbled cheese
• Pickled onions
• Puffed quinoa or millet
• Sliced avocado
Spreads:• Curry paste, labneh, miso paste
• Toasted and chopped nuts and seeds
Put Your Leftovers to Work
Leftovers from the night before often make their way into the lunchbox, but if you have leftover grains, then a pan of breakfast fried rice is a great alternative to the usual morning fare. And it’s simple: Warm some olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add your grains, sliced scallions, a quick glug of soy sauce, leftover veggies, and a few beaten eggs. Season with salt and pepper, and you’re in business.
Author Bio: Megan Gordon is a recipe developer, culinary educator, and author of Whole Grain Mornings: New Breakfast Recipes to Span the Seasons. She writes regularly for national magazines and websites as well as her own blog, A Sweet Spoonful.