Make ahead/freezer breakfast and lunches
February 8, 2016 6:14 AM   Subscribe

We're expecting baby #2 in a couple months. I have plenty of practice and am happy with our make ahead/freezer dinner options, but with a toddler in the mix now, I know I'm not going to have the time to prep breakfasts and lunches immediately before mealtimes as often as I do now. I'm looking for your favourite ideas/recipes/blogs to cover those meals.

Things like a big pot of porridge, tray bake of banana flapjack, or frozen burritos are already on my list, but I'm happy to hear ways of spicing those options up, and obviously want to hear other thoughts too. We all eat pretty much anything, although our toddler has a mild egg allergy which prevents him from eating things like scrambled/boiled eggs. Eggs cooked into something else is not a problem. At the moment, breakfasts mostly involve bagels with cream cheese plus maybe a bit of breakfast sausage, and lunch is either a sandwich plus fruit or leftover dinner from the night before. I expect we'll still have those in our routine come second kid, but I want options that I can pull out of the fridge or freezer and whack in the microwave for those times when I don't actually have a free 10 minutes to prep.
posted by catch as catch can to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
 
Chicken nuggets are classic for this reason.
posted by Sublimity at 6:34 AM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Most types of chili freeze well, and it's easy to defrost if you portion it out in freezer bags. I like this vegetarian one.
posted by neushoorn at 7:02 AM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Muffins. I make pizza muffins from purposelyfrugal.com, and there are tons of breakfast muffin recipes around.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 7:39 AM on February 8, 2016


Our scenario is different in that we have an afterschool nanny who feeds the kids before I get home but the underlying principle may work for you. I made food schedules for the kids (and we go along with the breakfast one too). They are written out and taped to the fridge.

We have:
Muffin Monday
Toast Tuesday
Waffle/Pancake Wednesday
Toast Thursday
Fried-egg Friday

and

Chicken Monday (I freeze raw chicken tenders in kid-size portions, nanny defrosts and sautees)
Tuesday: whatever we cooked for the week
Quiche Wednesday (I cook quiche ahead and freeze it in quarters)
Thursday: whatever we cooked for the week
Shrimp Friday (I keep frozen shrimp, nanny thaws and serves)

Muffin Monday also includes banana bread and similar. Bake ahead, freeze, pull out Sunday night, it's ready to warm and go on Monday morning. For a loaf of banana bread, I cut it in half and freeze half for another week.
Toast Tuesday/Thursday: Obviously you can mix this up by varying what you put on the toast: cheese toast! peanut butter toast! cream cheese toast! lemon curd toast!
Waffle/Pancake Wednesday: toaster waffles in a pinch, more often when I cook pancakes on Sunday I make extra and freeze the leftovers. Put frozen pancakes into a cold toaster oven, cook ~5 minutes on 350 and you're ready to go.
Quiche Wednesday: Ideally you pull a quarter out of the freezer and put it in the fridge on Monday or Tuesday night, and it's ready to go Wednesday. Scale up to half if you're eating with the kids.
Fried-egg Friday: Our child has a raw egg contact allergy, but we've discovered she can (and will happily) eat scrambled eggs if they're way, disgustingly overcooked, so we cook ours, and then cook hers awhile longer so they're really dry.

All meals get supplemented with fresh whole fruit, yogurt, cherry tomatoes, and vegetables from the freezer as appropriate.

The key (for me) is to have some kind of routine in place so you do all these things on autopilot. You don't HAVE to remember to freeze extra pancakes, it's just a thing you do. The freezer is stocked with wrapped up chicken tenders and frozen shrimp; when you use the last quiche quarter you know it's time to make another one that weekend. Et cetera. The DOING the things is manageable, it's remembering TO do the things and remembering what things to do. Reducing the mental energy involved in reinventing the wheel on a weekly basis has been huge for me. Having a couple of things that are different every week keeps a bit of novelty in the mix and is a nice balance for us.
posted by telepanda at 7:40 AM on February 8, 2016 [9 favorites]


For breakfasts, my two make-ahead go-tos (both of which freeze well) are:

--steel cut oats. I prep them in a pressure cooker, but they are also really easy to do in a slow cooker. (You can also do them on the stove top, but it's more stirring and I am lazy.) I would freeze in individual portions and defrost the night before. I think steel cut oats freeze a lot better than regular rolled oats because of their heartier texture. I cook them with water and store plain, and then add in whatever I want to serve when heating up -- this is especially important in my case because my husband does almond milk and I do cow milk, so the bulk portions aren't contaminated either way. :) Our favorite toppings are brown sugar, cut up fresh fruit, or raisins, plus a little milk-of-choice.

--homemade granola. Lots of recipes online, although this one is my absolute favorite because it is super easy (dump and stir) and is a little less sweet than some recipes. I usually bake it about 30 minutes because I like my granola toastier, so you can experiment with this. I store in the freezer in big gallon-size freezer bags and scoop out just what I need -- it thaws in about 10 minutes, so it's an easy morning option where you do not have to plan ahead. I usually eat it over yogurt, but my husband likes it plain, so I think it works either way (milk is another option).
posted by rainbowbrite at 7:49 AM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


For breakfast, I love oatmeal baked in muffin tins. 30 seconds in the microwave and you're ready to eat.

This recipe makes a dozen, and the ingredients can be adjusted to suit your taste.

3 cups old fashioned oats (gluten-free, if needed)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons flax seeds (optional)
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or chopped nuts
2/3 cup raisins and/or other dried fruit
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
2 large eggs
1/4 cup tablespoons nut butter, or 2 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/2 cup milk (any kind)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a muffin tin very well with butter or coconut oil, spray with Pam, or line with paper muffin liners.

Combine the oats, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, seeds, nuts, berries, etc., and raisins in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and nut butter (or melted butter) until smooth, and then then slowly mix in the milk. Pour the liquids into the bowl of dry ingredients, and stir well.

Divide the oatmeal mixture among the muffin cups, filling each one up to the top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until slightly risen and dry on top. Run a knife around each muffin and turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Muffins can be kept an airtight container on the counter for up to 5 days. Individually wrap any muffins you won't eat within a few days in plastic wrap and freeze. To defrost: leave overnight at room temperature. Once defrosted, they can be reheated in the microwave for about 30 seconds.
posted by Dolley at 8:08 AM on February 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


Muffins freeze well, so pumpkin, zucchini or banana muffins. Zip, zap done.

Soups and stews freeze well, as do some pastas, like baked ziti, stuffed shells or lasagna. When you make one for dinner, make it big and freeze individual portions for later. (or make two big ones!)

Enchiladas, again, make two at a time, big enough for a meal and leftovers.

I made curries that were easy to freeze and zap for some friends.

Basically, anything with a wet component to keep things from drying out.

Mazel-tov!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:26 AM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I make breakfast sandwiches on English muffins and freeze them.

Toast a whole package of English muffins. Line up the bottoms. On them, put:

2 slices of cheese
Scrambled eggs if you want (I hate eggs)
protein - I do sausage patties but you could do bacon or whatever

Top with the other half of the English muffin. I slice this in half, then wrap the whole thing in Saran Wrap, then put them all into a freezer bag. Take one out and microwave for a minute or two.
posted by lyssabee at 8:36 AM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


You can make a bunch of peanut butter sandwiches and freeze them. Seems silly but makes life easier!

(Just make sure not to do this the day before your son's school discovers a peanut allergy and bans peanuts from the classroom...)
posted by wyzewoman at 11:58 AM on February 8, 2016


Love soups for this kind of thing a lot a lot >
this black bean quinoa soup is the bomb!
posted by speakeasy at 2:57 AM on February 9, 2016


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