Cooking Ahead

The buzzing of the alarm brings you to consciousness for another day. Well, almost to consciousness. You hit the snooze button a few too many times, finally waking up with a start.

There is no time for a proper breakfast. Instead, it is a roll or doughnut with a cup of coffee once you get to work. Or maybe it is a quick glass of juice on the way out the door. Or maybe breakfast just does not fit into your schedule.

The keys to a Cooking Ahead breakfast are putting the food on your schedule and expanding your repertoire of morning meals.

Putting the food on your schedule means planning ahead. For winter months, this can be as simple as putting the oatmeal or porridge in the crock pot before going to bed. In the morning you will have a hot bowl of cereal, ready to eat.

Another "do ahead" breakfast is a simple fruit salad. Do all the peeling, cutting and sectioning while waiting for dinner to cook or while watching the evening news. If you have children, get them involved in peeling oranges and cutting bananas.

Be sure to mix a bit of citrus juice (lime, lemon, orange) with the fruit to prevent browning. Then mix together a bit of yogurt and honey for a simple dressing.

Refrigerate the salad overnight and you have breakfast ready for the morning.

A family favorite at our house is bran muffins. This recipe, another from Kurt's mother, makes a large batch of muffin batter. We pop a batch of muffins into the oven while taking a shower. Fresh, hot muffins help make the day start right.

The second key to Cooking Ahead breakfasts is expanding the definition of breakfast food. There are no rules that say cereal, eggs, bacon, muffins and toast are the only breakfast menu items.

Kurt likes leftover pizza for breakfast (check out last month's column for pizza information). Charla will take a tortilla and wrap it around rice, small pieces of meat and other refrigerator tidbits for her morning meal.

Expanding the list of "acceptable" breakfast foods can be helpful in getting children to eat in the morning. A peanut butter and jelly tortilla can seem more exciting than toast (try jalapeno jelly). If a child likes vegetables, serve up the leftover veggies from last night's meal.

We make habit of cooking more rice than we need. A few raisins plumped in hot water, some milk, sugar, cinnamon and a sprinkling of nutmeg turn the leftovers into a wonderful (and inexpensive) breakfast cereal.

Creativity and flexibility, along with a little planning, can turn breakfast from an ignored meal to a morning highlight.

Mom's Refrigerator Muffins

  • 15 oz. raisin bran
  • 3 c. sugar
  • 5 c. flour
  • 5 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 c. shortening, melted
  • 1 qt. buttermilk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the ingredients in order. Bake in muffin tins for 15-20 minutes. Batter will keep for six weeks in refrigerator. It may also be frozen.