Monday, September 12, 2011

Quick school year breakfasts!

The school year has begun and hopefully your family is back into the swing of things.  To get each school day started right it helps to have a plan for breakfast.  We have found that it's very expensive to buy store bought and  not always the healthiest (though seemingly the easiest) option.

Over the years I've found that having things planned ahead is the way to go.  I love being able to pull things out of the freezer and be good to go!

A friend reminded me the other day of breakfast cookies when she asked me for my recipe on facebook.  As I looked up the post for her on my old blog I remembered how good this information is, so I thought I'd share it again.  So here it is again, originally posted at in January of 09.

Better Breakfasts!

My kids used to love cereal for breakfast (and really they still do sometimes) but let’s face it, most of the time it’s not the best choice.  Cereal has become so expensive.  Even if you get it on sale you’re talking most of them time $2 a box and that’s for 12-18 ounces if you’re lucky! 

This is not to mention that most of the cereal that appeals to kids is more nutritionally like candy instead of healthy food!  The ones that are somewhat nutritious seems to hang out more towards the $3.50 or more per box range and most of them my kids would rather not eat. 

Several years ago for both nutrition and cost reasons I started trying to get my kids to eat less cereal.  The biggest reward of this came in the budget.  We’d easily go through 10-15 boxes a week for my four kids when my entire grocery budget at the time was only 50-70 per week.  That was a huge savings that I could spend elsewhere!

At first they were less then excited and on certain days I too wished for “easy” cereal.  After all, cereal they can serve themselves, it stores well and I don’t have “make it”.  They like pancakes, waffles, eggs and other things but they take more effort on my part.  The kids missed having instant gratification and had to wait a few minutes for breakfast. Wow, are we Americans spoiled or what?  They probably also missed the sugar but that’s just too bad.

This wasn’t just a one week switch over but took us probably 1-2 years to really prefer what we do now for breakfast.

For me I had to change the way I thought about breakfast and think more like I do for dinner and plan ahead.  This brings me to the reason I decided to write this today.  I found a new plan ahead breakfast that we all love!

Once in awhile before I’d take our pot roast leftovers, you know carrots, potatoes and meat and make them into hash for breakfast the next day.  My husband and I both bought potatoes accidentally so we had tons which lead me to think why not make a huge batch of homemade “hash” to freeze ahead!

I got a new huge roaster from my Mom and Dad for Christmas which I filled with scrubbed potatoes, carrots, a couple parsnips, a few turnips and onions.  On top of this I put two pork steaks (I would have used corned beef, or beef but it wasn’t on sale), then I added water to about 1/3 the depth of the roaster.  I let it cook on 250 for probably 6-8 hours. Once it was done I broke up the meat, removed the bones and gave it a stir.  Then I put batches in my kitchen aid to “mush” it slightly and simply bagged it up for the freezer.

You could use several crock pots, which is what I did before I got my big roaster, to do the same.  We ended up with about 7 quart bags for seven made ahead breakfasts.  To serve I just thaw and "fry" it in a skilled till it browns a little. The kids like to eat it with ketchup.  I prefer a little butter and salt.  At any rate it’s much healthier and cheaper then cereal.

Some of the other made ahead breakfast we love:

·         Breakfast burritos (eggs, sauce, cheese and sometimes sausage rolled in a tortilla, individually wrapped in waxed paper for microwave reheating.)
·         Breakfast pizza’s (bread dough flattened in 6 inch rounds, flash froze on cookie sheet with sauce, eggs, meat and cheese, I usually freeze these 6-8 in a bag and cook in the oven.)
·         Dixie Breakfast (this is a breakfast casserole froze liquid in a gallon bag and just poured into a 9 X 13 to bake.)
·         Texas Toast (this is “texas toast” with an egg, milk, little bit of sugar mixture poured over it and baked into pan French toast.  I freeze this ahead in foil pans.)
·         Breakfast cookies (I’ll have to see if my friend Heather will let me share this recipe, they are awesome with milk or in hand.  I have seen other recipes on the web so feel free to search.)
·         Muffins and quick breads are also great when I get them made ahead which is not as often as I’d like.  They disappear so fast!

Besides the make aheads, the morning of we’ll often do baked oatmeal, regular oatmeal, pancakes, pan pancakes, German pancakes, waffles, eggs lots of ways, on occasion eggs benedict (a family favorite!), banana crepes (another family favorite!), homemade yogurt mixed with fruit and jam, toast and jam or peanut butter, and sometimes bagels or English muffins if they’re on sale.

benedict and banana crepes they are all pretty easy.  Even those two aren’t “hard”, just time consuming really, but worth it once in awhile!

Without further delay then, here’s the breakfast cookie’s my friend Heather shared with me;

Breakfast Cookie
2 cups wheat flour
2 cups oatmeal
½ cup oil
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup milk
1 t. baking soda
½ t. salt
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
raisins, nuts or chocolate chips optional

Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes. 

We like these warm from the oven in a bowl crushed up with milk but we also eat them like “cookies” on the go.  When my son was detasseling corn and had to be up at the crack of dawn he would often take these for the bus ride.  The kids on the bus decided they shouldn’t be called cookie’s because they’re healthy and that would just be wrong.

I use regular (not instant) oats and we always add raisins, other’s I know add chocolate chips and use instant oats. The old fashioned oats give it a drier, more granola like texture while the instant make them smoother like a cookie texture. 

Typically I make a double batch and we eat half that morning.  The other half I freeze in a 1 quart freezer bag for another day.

 The next on the go recipe we’ve just recently found is granola bars.  This one is adapted from the recipe in Dining on a Dime Cookbook (which by the way has some really good stuff!) 

Granola Bars
½ cup brown sugar                                         
½ cup sugar
½ cup margarine, softened
2 T. molasses
½ tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
1 ½ cups old fashioned oats
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
Starting at the top mix ingredients together (sugar’s and margarine first then adding each in order and stirring.)  Grease a 9 X13 pan and press mixture evenly in pan.  Microwave on medium power (50%) for 7-9 minutes.  Cool and cut into bars.  They do firm up as they stand (if you can wait that long!) 

I had tried other granola bar recipes before that required you to make “granola” first and then turn them into bars. These are much easier and are more of a chewy granola bar.  They went fast at our house!  If you’ve got an easy one too please share!

Again with these like the cookies, make double, eat one and freeze one! 

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