Weekend Musings: Meal Prep

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!


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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!


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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 Ancient Grain Oatmeal with Cherry Jam and Almond Butter

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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 (1)

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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.

Happy prepping!

About Lauren Smith

Lauren is a herbivore, Slytherin, and connoisseur of oats. She is a former teacher who is currently studying to earn a master's degree in curriculum development. You can follow her on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.

10 Responses to Weekend Musings: Meal Prep

  1. Lyndsey B says:

    I love all of these hacks! I often will bake a bunch of baked oatmeals and freeze them, and they hold well for up to month. These are my “emergency” oats, for those days when I am in a big rush. I also will often measure out my 1/2 c oats and tbsp cocoa powder for a healthier instant oat pack. 🙂

  2. Cathy crandall says:

    Hi Lauren-As usual,what a great post & your 4 bowls all look so pretty! I’ve been prepping and freezing ahead for quite some time now but tend to do a bit of ‘recipe repeating’ a lot so really appreciate these awesome ideas to change it up a bit. I’m off to cook up some sweet potatoes right now! Hope u have a good weekend! Cathy C.

  3. Sandra says:

    Thank you so much for the time saving tips!! The make ahead bulk ideas are extremely beneficial! Leftover sweet potatoes and vegetables would also be very helpful for next day breakfasts. The only forms that I had make ahead oatmeal was in the cold overnight form (chia, oats, and mix ins soaked in milk, and yogurt). I have also tried to pass Oatmeal Craisin Chocolate Chips as a healthy breakfast. Your baked oatmeal recipes are a great inspiration for heathy cookie recipes!! I can’t wait to experiment with you make ahead tips!!

  4. Laura says:

    Thanks for the great tips. I will very often prepare several single portions of baked oatmeal on Sunday without baking. Then they are ready to be put in the oven when I want to eat them.

  5. Jessica N says:

    A lot of your recipes have zucchini in them – do you also prep the zucchini during the weekend? I’ve been curious about trying it in my oats!

  6. Cassie says:

    Sweet potatoes prepped in bulk = LIFE GETS SO MUCH BETTER. Seriously, I love my sweet potatoes so much that I could eat them every single day and not get tired of them at all!
    People also like cooking their oats in a slow cooker or crockpot in bulk so that they can just have smaller portions for the week! I don’t have either of those, but do you know anyone who has tried this?

    • Lauren Smith says:

      I did this with my Peanut Butter Banana Steel-Cut Oatmeal, and I tried it many times before I started the blog, but I personally don’t like the flavor of it so I don’t make it much!

  7. Lieke says:

    Meal prep is amazing for when you are the only one in your family that consistently eats oatmeal 😉
    I would like to try several butternut squash recipes, but I am afraid the squash will turn bad in the fridge. What is the best way to save it? Would it be to cook a big batch of butternut squash oatmeal and save it in the fridge, and if so, how long will it stay safe to eat? Or is it better to cook in a big batch and save in the freezer? Or is it best to cook the squash and keep it in a tupperware box, to add to “fresh” oatmeal each morning?
    And how would this all go for baked oatmeal?

    I hope you can answer the questions! I absolutely adore this blog and was over the moon when I got featured in a “this week in oatmeal” post a few weeks ago 🙂 Keep it up!

    • Lauren Smith says:

      I would bake or boil the butternut squash in cubes. Then I would mash it and store it in tupperware in the fridge. If there’s a lot of it and you don’t think you can use it all within a week, I would throw half of the baked cubes in the freezer. When you’re ready to use them later, you can thaw and mash them. For baked oatmeal, you would just want to use thawed, mashed squash. I hope that’s helpful! And thank you. 🙂

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