Stock Your Freezer with These Make-Ahead Breakfasts, Survive Hectic Mornings

September  7, 2016

We all want easy. We all want accessible. And we all want our food on the table thirty minutes ago. Or at least, I do. Since becoming a parent, I find myself relying more and more on make-ahead meals, big-batch cooking, and my good ol’ freezer to make that happen.

Lately, this includes breakfast, too. Our mornings are a flurry of activity with getting my toddler fed (a hangry two-year-old is never a good thing!) and then eventually throwing something together for us adults. This month, we’ll be welcoming our second baby into the family, and I expect time to be even more precious thereafter.

I’ve been brainstorming meals that I can make ahead and freeze before the baby arrives, and even though entrées tend to be the focus of these ready-to-pop cooking marathons, I know that I can’t forget about breakfasts. Because yes, even assembling smoothie ingredients can seem too time-consuming some mornings.

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But how do you know what will freeze well and what won’t? Well, a lot of it is trial and error, which is why I’ve tested all of these recipes in advance to ensure that they freeze and thaw without losing integrity and flavor. Generally, I err on the side of caution with freezing duration, opting to freeze for less time (say, 2 to 4 weeks) as opposed to longer time frames (2 to 3 months or longer) because I’m pretty sensitive to the dreaded freezer-burn taste. But you can find your own preferences, of course. In each recipe, I’ll also share my tips and storage methods for freezing so you don’t have to do any guesswork.

I’m so excited to share these 3 delicious make-ahead and freezer-friendly breakfasts straight from my new plant-based cookbook, Oh She Glows Every Day. Whether you want portable or fork-and-knife, savory or sweet, cool, or warm, I have something delicious in store for you below.

Green Tea Lime Pie Smoothie Bowl

This smoothie offers the tropical flavors of lime, coconut, banana, and avocado in a rich blend that’s fortified with fresh greens and matcha green tea powder. If you’ve never tried matcha in a smoothie, prepare yourself for an energizing kick: Matcha is a natural source of caffeine, and it’s rich in disease-fighting antioxidants. On its own, it has a slightly bitter, toasted flavor, but you won’t detect so much as a hint of bitterness when you blend the powder into a sweet, refreshing smoothie bowl. I happen to think that this smoothie tastes like key lime pie: creamy, tart, tropical, and sweet all at once.

  • Make it kid-friendly: Omit the matcha powder and reduce the lime juice.
  • Tip: To turn this into a smoothie freezer pack, simply place the spinach, banana, avocado, and matcha into a small freezer bag. Press out the air and seal. This can be stored in the freezer for 1 to 2 weeks. When you’re ready to use, simply add the coconut water, lime zest, lime juice, and maple syrup into the blender along with the contents of the bag. Blend on high until smooth, adding ice only if necessary.

Strawberry Oat Crumble Bars with Berry Chia Seed Jam

These delicious anytime bars are vegan, lunchbox-friendly, gluten-free, and made with a strawberry-vanilla chia seed jam that’s free of refined sugar. (With the chia jam, the bars will be lightly sweet; if you use store-bought jam, they’ll be much sweeter.)

It’s hard to resist gobbling them up once you slice them, but I actually find that they taste better the following day, after the flavors have had a chance to meld in the fridge overnight. I also recommend making the chia jam in advance, so it has time to cool in the fridge before you begin making the bars.

Once chilled, the bars firm up (thanks to the coconut oil), but at room temperature they soften and will virtually melt in your mouth while you eat them. At either temperature, you’ll love the roasted sunflower seed “cookie” crust.

Enjoy these as a quick breakfast with tea or coffee, as an afternoon snack when you need a boost, or warmed up for dessert with a scoop of ice cream (it’ll remind you of a berry crisp!).

  • Tip: If you have a food processor with less than an 11-cup (2.6-liter) capacity, you might need to process the crust in two batches and then stir it all together in a large bowl before measuring.

Chia seed jam—while not traditional by any means—has been my go-to quick-and-easy jam recipe for years. You can use any kind of berry you prefer, and you can have fun changing it up with different mix-ins like lemon juice or zest, orange juice or zest, vanilla bean seeds or extract, cinnamon, cardamom, and any other spices or extracts you enjoy. Since berries vary in sweetness, adjust the sweetener to suit your own taste with each batch.

You’ll be happy to know that chia seed jam also freezes well. I like to portion individual servings into a silicone mini-muffin tray, freeze them until they’re solid, and then pop them out and store them in a freezer bag. This way you can have chia seed jam ready anytime: Simply thaw it in the fridge or at room temperature. If I’m making overnight oats, I will often thaw a cube of chia seed jam in the fridge overnight while the oats thicken. Then it’s ready for me to enjoy in the morning without any fuss. How’s that for easy?

Black Bean Rancheros with Cherry Tomato Salsa

This recipe is a great savory breakfast option, and it comes together in less than 30 minutes. Try making it at the peak of summer, when you can enjoy the fresh, sweet flavors of corn, bell pepper, and juicy cherry tomatoes.

For a complete brunch spread, serve it with my 9-Spice Avocado Hummus Toast (page 39 of Oh She Glows Everyday) and Roasted Breakfast Hash (page 53). You can also try serving it with brown rice, Crispy Smashed Potatoes (page 123), or even grilled corn. A dollop of Cashew Sour Cream (page 261) brings the recipe to life and adds cool, tart flavor to an otherwise spicy, savory dish. I love to make these rancheros with my Fresh Cherry Tomato Salsa, but any store-bought salsa will work in a pinch.

  • Storage: Store the bean mixture in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze the rancheros for up to 1 month. Simply assemble each ranchero in a wrap, wrap it in a layer of parchment paper and foil, and place in a freezer bag. To thaw, remove the foil-wrapped rancheros from the bag and place in a 400° F oven for 20 to 25 minutes, flipping halfway through, until warmed throughout.
  • Make it grain-free: Omit the corn kernels and corn or flour tortillas, and use a lettuce wrap instead.
  • Tip: To warm tortillas in the oven, preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C) and wrap up to 6 tortillas in aluminum foil. Place them directly on the oven rack and heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until warmed through. To warm the tortillas in the microwave, place up to 6 tortillas on a large plate and cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave in 20-second intervals until the tortillas are warmed to your liking. Last, you can reheat the tortillas on the stovetop by placing a single tortilla in a dry skillet and heating it over medium heat for about 30 seconds on each side.

What do you do in advance to make weekday morning a little less crazy? Tell us in the comments below!

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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Author of Oh She Glows Cookbook & Oh She Glows Every Day