Make-Ahead Breakfasts for Busy Mornings

On busy weekdays, a healthy breakfast can be a tall order. These nourishing make-ahead meals can help simplify your mornings.

bowls of oatmeal with a glass of milk

Starting your morning with a nutritious breakfast can set you up for a more focused, energized day — but it’s tempting to skip or skimp on a meal that happens so, well, early.

Maybe you’ve been getting by on coffee and counting the minutes until lunch, or maybe you’ve been relying on packaged grab-and-go fare to get through the early hours. Either way, you might feel clearer, brighter, and more energetic with some high-quality fuel in your tank.

The key to a healthy, satisfying breakfast on a busy morning is to plan ahead. These meals are designed to be prepped in advance, so you can pack individual portions in your favorite food-storage containers and wake up each day with one less item on your to-do list.


Polenta Parfaits

polenta parfait

Makes four servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes

1/2 cup coarse cornmeal
1/2 cup chickpea flour
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped red onion
½ cup coarsely chopped baby spinach
1 tbs. capers, drained
1 cup plain, full-fat Greek yogurt
1 large scallion, chopped

Wash and dry four 2-cup canning jars.

In the bottom half of a double boiler set over high heat, bring a few inches of water to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. In the top half of the double boiler, place the cornmeal and chickpea flour, then gradually whisk in the stock and olive oil until smooth. Cook over the simmering water, whisking often, until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. Whisk the Parmesan in until melted, then scoop ½-cup portions into each prepared jar. Smooth with a wet spoon and let cool.

In a small bowl, toss tomatoes with balsamic vinegar, then divide between the jars.

In a large sauté pan, warm olive oil over medium-high heat, and then add the onion. Sauté until soft, about three minutes. Add the spinach and capers, and stir until the spinach is wilted, about one minute. Place about 1/4 cup in each jar.

When the jars are cool, measure 1/4 cup yogurt into each one, then top with one-fourth of the scallions. Cover tightly and refrigerate.

Microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes before serving.


Crispy Oat Waffles

crispy oat waffle

Make these vegan, gluten-free waffles and freeze them for the ultimate meal prep. Thaw in a toaster and top with yogurt or maple syrup, or go savory and serve with roasted veggies.

Makes five servings
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

1 cup unsweetened almond milk or milk of choice
1 tbs. ground flaxseed
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. white or apple-cider vinegar
1/4 cup avocado oil or melted coconut oil
1 tbs. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups gluten-free rolled oats, divided
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt
Oil for waffle iron

In a small mixing bowl, combine milk, flaxseed, applesauce, and vinegar; let sit for a few minutes. Add oil, maple syrup, and vanilla. Whisk thoroughly, then set aside.

Place 1 cup of the oats in a blender and grind to a powder, stopping to scrape down as needed. Add the baking powder and salt and pulse a few times to mix. Add the liquid mixture and process briefly to mix. Use a spatula to scrape the bottom of the blender container to make sure everything is mixed in. Add the remaining 1/2 cup oats and pulse just to mix in. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes until thickened.

Preheat the waffle iron according to manufacturer’s instructions, for about five minutes. When the iron is hot, open it and oil lightly. Measure 1/2 cup batter into the middle of the iron and close the top. In about two minutes, when the waffle is browned and crisp, transfer the waffle to a plate or a cooling rack. Repeat with remaining batter.

Serve hot, or cool completely and place in a zip-top freezer bag. To thaw, toast frozen waffle in a toaster or toaster oven, and serve with desired toppings.


This originally appeared as “Breakfast Matters” in the January/February 2020 print issue of Experience Life.

is a Minneapolis-based recipe developer and cookbook author.

Photography by: Andrea D’Agosto; Prop Styling: Alicia Buszczak; Food Stylist: Paul Jackman

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