Friday, August 2, 2013

Foodie Friday - Fast, Cheap, and Easy: Breakfast Options!

So far, every job I've had since we moved here has required me to commute at least 30 minutes (if not more). I HAVE to eat breakfast, and as I value my sleep, I prefer it to be quick to make or reheat and something I can eat while driving. Even better if I can make/prep everything on Sunday night in as little amount of time as possible! Plus the easier and faster I can make a breakfast at home, the less tempting it is to spend money in a drive-thru!

There are a few options I have come up with that work really well for me; I need a healthy-ish carb, protein, and if I can squeeze in some veggies, all the better! I've sorted them between "ridiculously easy", "needs a little prep", and "needs a LOT of prep". Enjoy!

Ridiculously Easy

  • Fruit and Yogurt Parfait (pictured above): I use about 3/4 cup of vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt (You can use non-Greek yogurt, but Greek yogurt has way more protein), about a 1/4 cup frozen berries that I defrost overnight in the fridge, and a small handful of "Honey Bunches of Oats"-style cereal. It's surprisingly filling, probably due to the Greek yogurt. I can't eat this while driving, but I will pack the ingredients in separate containers and mix it up when I get to work - it's still quick to eat while starting my work day.
    • Why frozen berries, and why defrosted? As the berries defrost, they create their own sweet-tart syrup (you can see it in the picture!) which just adds a ton of flavor. Yum!
    • Why the cereal instead of actual granola? Well, the "bunches" are granola-like, and the cereal flakes add some light crunch and stay surprisingly crispy, even when mixed in with the yogurt and berries.
  • Hard-baked egg & breakfast treat: I say "hard-baked" because I don't bother hard-boiling eggs anymore, I hard-bake them. Takes all of 2 minutes to put them in a muffin tin and throw 'em in the oven! (Just like with hard-boiled eggs, if you let fresh eggs sit in the fridge for a week, they'll peel easier.) For breakfast on the go, I throw one in a tiny container that I shake some salt and pepper into first, and once I place the lid on it, I shake the egg around to get lightly coated in the seasoning. For the breakfast "treat", I'll either buy some frozen pancakes on a stick and bake one in the morning as I finish up getting ready, or frozen waffles that I'll spread a little butter on; I save both of these for the last moment possible, so they stay warm until I'm in the car. Since they're both finger-foodish, I snack on them as I drive. A small piece of fruit rounds things out nicely!
    • If you need more protein, frozen breakfast sausages grill up in about 2-3 minutes on a Foreman grill; I've done it with frozen raw sausages by Farmer John (which are quite tasty and cheap!), and they cook through super-fast. Try it on the weekend if you don't believe me!
 Needs a Little Prep
  • DIY McMuffins: I so wish I could take credit for this genius, but alas, I can't. It's from The Yummy Life! When I make them, I scramble each egg because I prefer them that way, and I use ramekins because I didn't want to buy a whole pan just for this. FYI, spray the CRAP out of your pans/ramekins because burnt egg is a P.I.T.A. to remove. When properly sprayed, it came out easily when loosened around the edges. Once they cooled, I placed squares of paper towels between each egg and placed them in a container to keep in the fridge. As the eggs cook, I grill/pan-fry sausage patties and let them cool so I can store them in the fridge as well. (or if you really want to be lazy, buy the pre-cooked patties) In the morning, I toast my English muffin, throw on a slice of cheese (I like American because it's melty/reminds me of the McDonald's version), and warm up the egg in the microwave - it needs about 30 seconds max. I warm up the sausage as well, and if I want to be a total health nerd, I'll steam some spinach next to the egg/sausage in the microwave and throw it under the cheese on the sandwich! It takes a little more time in the morning, but it's still relatively fast and can be eaten on the go. (You can also make them in advance like The Yummy Life does, but I prefer the morning assemblage because I like a slightly-crunchy English muffin!)
  • Mini-hashbrown "muffins": They're almost like mini-quiches made with hashbrowns for the crust! The Village Cook blog calls them "Idaho Sunrises". I followed the recipe exactly, except I scrambled my eggs again. (I'M WEIRD WITH EGG TEXTURE, LEAVE ME ALONE.) The day of cooking, I loved them and they were super-tasty... and RICH. Re-heating during the week, they were fine but they obviously lose that great crispy hash brown texture; if I were to do it again, I'd try re-warming them in the oven for 15 minutes to see if that re-crisps them. As such, they're not my favorite breakfast on the run, so I haven't made them other than the one time, BUT I would totally make them for a brunch or something (plus if you're not as finicky as me, you might love them as a breakfast-on-the-run, which is why I'm including them). I consider them "little prep" level because you bake them all in advance, and it's not too terribly difficult of a recipe, other than the double-baking of the hashbrown crusts.
Needs a LOT of Prep

I never claimed to be a photographer. :p
  • Spinach smoothie: HEAR ME OUT. Yes, it's spinach. Yes, it's BRIGHT green. But I swear on my life that it DOES NOT TASTE LIKE SPINACH. It tastes like bananas and peanut butter! I consider this one to be a lot of prep because you have to chop and freeze the bananas in advance, then throw all the ingredients in the blender, then BLEND it. Ok, the mixing part doesn't take so long, but unless you have a Magic Bullet or something with individual cups, you have to wash the blender and that's just more work (Worth it, but still more work). So for the extra step of daily washing of a blender, I'm putting it in extra prep. The recipe makes a HUGE smoothie, though - that glass above is about 2/3rds of a batch. It's super-filling, too, and could easily be cut in half and still make plenty for your morning commute. :)
  • DIY Breakfast Hot Pockets:  Here's the deal. They are a LOT of work, but they are TASTY little pockets of goodness. If you want to take care of your breakfast for, like, the next MONTH, I would totally recommend this recipe. I used Pillsbury Grands biscuit dough instead of making the dough in the recipe, and I think I would attempt the actual dough; the biscuit dough was hard to stretch out, and resulted in pockets that were quite (deliciously) bready. Since I want more of the filling and less of the bread, the dough would probably give me this result. (I also stuck to just sausage, eggs, and cheese in my filling, but I would love to incorporate some veggies in future batches!) I wrapped them in plastic wrap and freeze them, then unwrapped them and nuked them in the microwave until heated through.
  • DIY Breakfast Burritos: I still haven't mastered a proper burrito wrapping technique (and being half-Mexican, that's just EMBARRASSING), but usually if you wrap them tightly once you're done, they stay together just fine. If you need specifics, there are about a million tutorials, but I wing it. I scramble eggs, brown crumbled sausage or cook bacon and break it up, throw cheese on top, and wrap it up in a flour tortilla. To keep the tortillas from drying out, wrap them in a paper towel and then in aluminum foil (Look in dollar stores for pre-cut squares of aluminum foil, it'll make this task much easier). I totally steal extra packets of hot sauce from fast food places (I esp. love Jack in the Box's taco sauce) to drizzle on my burritos - when I'm not eating while driving, of course. ;D
One Last Thing: I love my Keurig. Love love LOVE it. It was not a cheap purchase, BUT it works out to be reasonable. For one thing, I buy K-pods when they're on sale (they're not usually extravagant sales, but whatevs). I also have a reusable K-cup so I can use my own grinds (which is economical AND environmentally friendlier); I'll use grinds on the weekends when I'm not in a rush, but I use the pods during the week. It's not as cheap as making a whole pot of coffee, sure, but I really only WANT one cup! I like coffee in the morning, but I rarely drink more than that, so brewing a pot (which takes longer) makes NO sense for my needs. So I get exactly as much as I need and it's WAY cheaper than a coffee from a drive-thru. So would I recommend a Keurig? If you drink a lot of coffee, no, but if you like just one cup like me, I think it's worth it, especially to speed up your morning routine!

1 comment:

  1. I've always been a breakfast person, but I know not everyone is. Great ideas for quick choices!



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