Weekend meal prep has solidified itself as an important ritual in many people’s tight schedules in the past year. It boasts many perks: prevents you from needlessly eating out or ordering delivery, saves money by avoiding “convenience” items (e.g. precooked rice or prediced onions), saves you time during busy weekdays, and encourages you to stick with healthy choices—even after an exhausting day at work or school.
Meal prep is often discussed in regards to lunch and dinner, but preparing breakfast ahead of time is just as useful, if not more. I’m willing to bet most of us are sleepy and desperate for every minute in the mornings. Even if you insist on cooking your oats on the stove every morning, there are some tricks to save yourself a few minutes or allow you to experiment with recipes you otherwise wouldn’t have time for.
1. Cook & Reheat
Of course, a popular choice is to cook or bake a large batch of oatmeal over the weekend and reheat individual portions throughout the week (either on the stove or in the microwave). This is a major timesaver and is how I adjusted to my 5:30 am alarm during my service year in Newark. However, it means you’ll be eating the same breakfast all week, so pick one you like, or vary the toppings!
- How to make four different oatmeal recipes from one pot
- Apple Pie Steel-Cut Oatmeal
- Peanut Butter Banana Baked Oatmeal
- All other “big batch” recipes
2. Prepare mashed sweet potatoes for an easy filling
Honestly, I love sweet potatoes in porridge, but I rarely do it because it’s so much work. Here’s how to save yourself the trouble: Roast or boil several sweet potatoes (or butternut squash), mash them up, and store in the fridge. When you’re ready to make the oatmeal, add 1/4-1/3 cup mashed sweet potato after adding the oats. So much easier!
- Sweet Potato Gingerbread Oatmeal (Pictured above)
- Maple Sweet Potato Oatmeal
- Sweet Potato, Almond Butter, & Raisin Oatmeal
- Sweet Potato Fudge Oatmeal
- All other sweet potato recipes!
3. Make a big batch of applesauce
Grating or dicing apples in the morning can be a nuisance. Similar to the sweet potato hack, it’s much easier to prepare homemade applesauce or stewed apples on Sunday and stir them into your oats on Tuesday morning.
- Applesauce Oatmeal with Almond Butter & Cherry Jam (pictured above)
- Applesauce Oatmeal (original version)
- Applesauce Overnight Oatmeal
- Stewed Apple Oatmeal
- All apple recipes (which can often be made with applesauce or stewed apple)
4. Make overnight oats
These are a great option if you eat on a bus or at your office desk because they can be eaten cold. (I sometimes pack them for lunches! Shh!) I often just make one the night before and reheat it in the morning (I prefer mine warm), but sometimes I make several mornings’ worth at once to just get it over with.
- Chocolate Banana Overnight Oatmeal (pictured above)
- Banana Cream Pie Overnight Oatmeal
- French Toast Overnight Oatmeal
- Mango-Coconut Overnight Oatmeal
- Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oatmeal
- All other overnight recipes
5. Make a simple base recipe in bulk
Similar to #1, you can cook a large pan of plain banana oatmeal or plain apple oatmeal, and then flavor each serving individually in the morning. This gives you four unique breakfasts so you don’t eat the exact same breakfast in the morning.
Here are three ideas:
- Make a big batch of applesauce oatmeal by cooking 1 cup steel-cut oats in 4 cups liquid (I usually do 2 cups almond milk and 2 cups water). After adding the oats, grate in one apple and dice another (or add 1 cup applesauce). On Monday, turn one serving into Salted Apple, Maple, and Pecan Oatmeal by adding the vanilla extract, cinnamon, maple syrup, pecans, and topping with salt. On Tuesday, enjoy Apple PB&J Oatmeal. On Wednesday, have Blueberry Apple Oatmeal. On Thursday, have Apple Oatmeal with Chocolate Tahini and Coconut.
- Make a big batch of plain banana oatmeal by cooking 1 cup steel-cut oats in 4 cups liquid (I usually do 2 cups almond milk and 2 cups water). After adding the oats, mash up two RIPE (or even better, overripe) bananas and stir into the oats. On Monday, turn one serving into Banana Bread Oatmeal by adding the vanilla extract, molasses, and spices. On Tuesday, make Banana PB&J Oatmeal. On Wednesday, make Pomegranate Nut Butter Oatmeal. On Thursday, make Nutty ‘Nana Berry Oatmeal. (You can also make any of the chocolate recipes in the next bullet by adding 1 tbsp cocoa powder to a single serving.)
- Make a big batch of chocolate banana oatmeal by cooking 1 cup steel-cut oats in 4 cups liquid (I usually do 2 cups almond milk and 2 cups water). After adding the oats, mash up two overripe bananas and stir into the oats, along with 3 tbsp unsweeetened cocoa powder (add more if it doesn’t look or taste chocolatey enough for you). On Monday, turn one serving into Fudgy Banana & Peanut Butter Oatmeal by adding vanilla extract and topping with peanut butter. On Tuesday, add peppermint extract to make Thin Mints Oatmeal. On Wednesday, make Mocha Brownie Batter Oatmeal with Almond Butter by mixing in vanilla extract and coffee granules, and topping with almond butter. On Thursday, make Berry Blackout Oatmeal.