Adaptable frittatas and overnight oats: Make-ahead breakfast ideas for the morning rush

Mackensy Lunsford
Southern Kitchen

I'm no stranger to the morning rush. I have a full-time job and an easily distracted small child I have to dress and get to school. There's just not enough time to get a small twitchy human ready and also make a well-rounded breakfast, not to mention get myself ready for work. 

That's where food prep comes in. Here are three basic guidelines for make-ahead breakfasts you can adapt to your own preferences.

Making the perfect frittata

A frittata is essentially a crustless quiche, and it can be cooked ahead and eaten cold or quickly warmed in the microwave. Once you get used to making it, you won't need a recipe at all. 

Country Ham and Broccoli Frittata

Ingredients

8 eggs

1/2 cup heavy cream, milk or half and half

Up to 1 cup shredded or softened cheese of choice

Salt and pepper to taste

Around 2 cups of "mix-ins" and a little fat to cook them in

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 375. 

To make your frittata base, whisk together eggs with heavy cream. Season that with a pinch or two of salt and a few twists of a pepper grinder.

Frittatas are endlessly adaptable. You can use just about anything you have on hand to make them sing. Slice leftover steak from last night's dinner and pair it with diced leftover baked potatoes and shredded fontina, for example. Use up leftover roasted vegetables and yesterday's bacon. Toss in the smoked salmon that's lingering in your meat drawer, and use up the rest of that cream cheese while you're at it.

You'll want to prepare approximately 2 cups of flavorful ingredients to add to your base. Anything that needs to be cooked should be sauteed in a 10-inch skillet, which is where you will also bake your frittata. 

Ideas for frittata ingredients:

  • Cooked breakfast sausage, onions and red peppers (pair with mozzarella).
  • Black beans, red onions, jalapenos, diced tomatoes (pair with pepper jack).
  • Cooked bacon, scallion (pair with cheddar).
  • Smoked salmon, chives and everything seasoning (pair with dollops of cream cheese). 
  • Ham, caramelized onion (pair with gruyere).
  • Roasted red peppers, olives, pesto swirl (add dollops of ricotta at the end).

Once you're done cooking your hot ingredients (already cooked ingredients only need to be heated through), remove the skillet from the heat, then stir in your seasoned egg mixture and cheese. You don't want the pan to be screaming hot, but you don't want it to be cold, either.

Stir in any easily bruised or delicate ingredients, such as fresh basil and other herbs, right before the pan goes in the oven.

Slide the whole skillet into your preheated oven and cook until just set, about 15-20 minutes. Let it rest before slicing. Frittata also makes a great dinner with a big salad.

Need a more exact recipe? Try this Country Ham and Broccoli Frittata 

How to make overnight oats

My child eats overnight oats with more gusto than nearly anything else, and they're even simpler to serve than they are to make. 

Overnight oats are, simply, old-fashioned oats soaked overnight in milk. I prefer to use almond milk, for the best flavor.

Carrot Cake Overnight Oats from Orchids + Sweet Tea.

To make your overnight oats, simply add one part oats to one part milk, and then stir in a bit of sweetener of your choice and a minuscule amount of salt. 

In my kitchen, it looks like this. Right before bed, I fill a mason jar about 1/2-3/4 of the way with oats, cover that with milk until the milk level is just slightly higher than the oats, then stir in a generous tablespoon of coconut sugar or agave nectar and a tiny bit of salt. I then screw on the top and give the jar a good shake.

You can stop here and stick it in the fridge until the morning, or you can add extra ingredients. 

In the fall and winter, I stir in pumpkin pie spice and a dollop of pureed pumpkin and then sprinkle pumpkin seeds, almond slivers or pecans on top. Vanilla extract and maple syrup pair well with this flavor combination.  

In the summer, I'll add fresh, chopped strawberries or other fruit. Peaches and blueberries work great with a touch of cinnamon. Frozen fruit works fine in this recipe as well.

Serve overnight oats cold, straight out of the refrigerator. Overnight oats should keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Need a more exact recipe? Try Spiced Carrot Cake Overnight Oats: The healthy breakfast that tastes just like cake

Make-ahead breakfast burritos

Did you know you can make your own frozen breakfast burritos? It's easy, but there are a few tips you need to know.

  • To prevent sogginess, your fillings must be at room temperature or cooler before you wrap them up.
  • Also, put cheese down on the tortilla before you add scrambled eggs to cut down on the sog.
  • Drain any wet ingredients well.
  • For best results, use large, burrito-sized tortillas, though you can use medium tortillas if you take care not to overstuff them.

Now that you've absorbed those tips, consider what you want to put in your burrito.

First, scramble some seasoned eggs and then cool them down. This will make up the base of your burrito. A tofu scramble works just as well. 

When considering the rest of your ingredients, think about what will freeze well. Lettuce and avocado won't work, for example, but meat and heartier vegetables freeze fine.

Some ideas:

  • Ham, cooked bacon or sliced steak.
  • Cheddar or jack cheese.
  • Well-drained canned pinto, black or refried beans.
  • Diced onion.
  • Sliced fresh or pickled jalapenos.
  • Cooked potatoes or hash browns.
  • Roasted vegetables, such as sweet potatoes or bell peppers. 
  • Corn kernels.
  • Rice or other grains.

Prepare all ingredients, make sure they're cool, then create an assembly line with your fillings, a la Chipotle. Don't forget to season everything well. Salsa is a bit watery, so if you like your food spicy, try adding some hot sauce to the mix in small quantities. You could also squeeze as much liquid out of your salsa as possible.

Lightly toast each tortilla under the broiler before wrapping up your ingredients. Layer ingredients, taking care not to overstuff. Dab up any extra liquid with a clean paper towel.

Fold each side of your tortilla over the filling and roll tightly from the bottom up. 

Make sure each burrito is cool before you wrap it in parchment paper. Label if you'd like, then place wrapped burritos in freezer-safe ziplock bags. These freeze for up to a month.

To heat, remove frozen burritos from paper and wrap them in a paper towel. Microwave on high, turning once or twice, until heated through, about 2-3 minutes. 

Now you're ready for the day.

Mackensy Lunsford is the food and culture storyteller for USA TODAY Network's South region and the editor of Southern Kitchen.

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Reach me: mlunsford@southernkitchen.com