Back when I was a single mom with two young kids at home, meal prepping for dinners during the school week was a survival tactic–particularly during those busy, busy first few weeks at the beginning of a new school year. Back then, I’d take a couple of days in August to prepare myself. I’d make freezer meals that could be easily dropped in the crockpot before rushing out the door in the morning, or freeze casseroles that could be slipped into the oven after a hectic day. I’d brown 10 pounds or more of ground beef, and then portion the cooked meat in individual packages that were perfect for quickly adding to spaghetti sauce or turning into taco meat.
Now, I’m remarried, the kids are older, and either off to college or busy doing their own things a lot of nights. As a result, we aren’t responsible for making family meals every single night, so I don’t meal prep in that same way anymore. When it’s just my husband and me for dinner, we usually have “happy hour at home” instead of dinner. We make a craft cocktail, or pop open a bottle of wine, and create a charcuterie tray, or a simple appetizer like flatbread. Then, we carry it out to the deck or screened porch, kick our feet up, and relax. That’s my kinda evening right there, folks. Sometimes, if we are extra worn out, we go even easier, and have popcorn and smoothies.
While this does have its obvious rewards, the down side is that I can no longer rely on leftovers as my lunch for work the next day. Mark works in a hospital, so he has the benefit of the hospital cafeteria, where he regularly purchases lunch, and sometimes breakfast, too. Me, well I work in a middle school, so the lunch options here are not always as desirable. I choose to bring my own lunch 95% of the time. And, since moving last year, I now have a longer commute in the mornings and need to leave the house about 40 minutes earlier than I used to. This can make the mornings extra stressful if I’m rushing around trying to figure out what to eat for a quick breakfast, or rummaging through the fridge looking for something to pack for lunch.
Now, my meal prepping has switched to focus on breakfast and lunch. Having this planned out ahead of time gets my day started on a much calmer note.
I’m one of those people who don’t really like the thought of food until mid-morning. I want my coffee the minute my feet hit the floor, but am not ready for food until an hour or two later. Therefore, I need things that can be toted to school and eaten after I arrive,
Freezer Breakfast Sandwiches: Two Ways
One thing that works well for this is breakfast sandwiches. You can customize them to your liking, they freeze well, are portable, and heat up nicely in the microwave.
Before school started this year, I made two different varieties. A couple of days per week, I just grab one from the freezer, toss it in my lunch bag, and heat it up when I arrive at school. I can hold it in my hand and eat it while I’m getting things ready for the day to begin in my classroom.
- Cook your eggs as you like them. You can scramble them, fry them, and mix in any veggies or seasonings you like. I used these silicon rings that I got on Amazon. They work great for keeping the eggs in a tidy circle that will fit nicely on your English muffin, biscuit, or bagel.
2. Next, lay out some foil sheets large enough to wrap your sandwiches. You’re creating an assembly line here. Place a damp paper towel on top of each piece of foil. This is important for reheating your sandwiches, because it will provide some steam and moisture while microwaving, and prevent the bread from getting too hard.
3. Place your bread of choice on each paper towel/foil square. I did some of mine with light English muffins, and some with homemade bagels using 2-ingredient dough. I’ll share the recipe at the bottom if you want it. They are super easy and yummy and somewhat healthy for you. Because they are made with only flour and Greek yogurt, they are low in fat and contain protein from the yogurt. Really, they are so good. I topped mine with Everything but the Bagel Seasoning from Trader Joe’s. Trust me. Try them. You’ll be glad you did.
4. Top your muffins or bagels with cheese. I used the Sargento Ultra Thin Sharp Cheddar, because it gives just enough yummy cheese flavor and melty-ness to “glue” the sandwich together, without adding a lot of unnecessary calories.
5. Add bacon, or thin ham, or Canadian bacon– your choice here. You could also omit entirely if you want a vegetarian version. I used one slice of pre-cooked bacon per sandwich. Again, bacon-y flavor without overdoing it on the fat and calories.
6. After putting the 2 sides of the sandwich together, carefully wrap the damp paper towel around it, tucking it around all sides. Then, wrap tightly in the foil. I always make sure to label the top of each one, so I’m not surprised later when I unwrap one. 🙂
7. Place all the tightly wrapped and labeled sandwiches in a freezer bag, and store in the freezer for several weeks.
8. To eat, remove foil, and place the paper-towel wrapped sandwich in the microwave. Heat for 1 minute on 50% power. Then, heat for 30 seconds more on full power. Carefully remove paper towel, and let cool slightly before eating. I like to wrap it partially back in the foil to hold it while I run around and get stuff done in my classroom. 🙂
Mornings just got sooooo much easier!
Two Ingredient Dough Bagels
- 2 cups self-rising flour
- 2 cups nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 1 large egg beaten
- 1 teaspoon water
- Everything bagel seasoning OR sesame seeds, poppy seeds, etc. all optional
- 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place parchment or silicon baking mat on a baking sheet. Lightly spray with cooking spray to prevent sticking.2. In a large bowl, combine the flour and the yogurt until the mixtures forms a shaggy dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured workspace or silicon mat. Knead the dough by hand for about 5 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic. Lightly sprinkle with additional flour if dough is too sticky to work with.3. Divide the dough into 8 pieces. I cut mine with a dough scraper. Shape each portion into a ball. Use your thumb to make a hole in the center of each ball. Pull and stretch the dough gently, until it forms a ring. Repeat with all dough balls, flouring hands as needed to prevent sticking.4. Evenly space rings on prepared pan. Make the egg wash by whisking the water and egg until smooth. Brush egg wash over each bagel, and sprinkle with seasoning of your choice.5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating baking sheet once to ensure even browning. Remove pan from oven and increase oven temp to 450 degrees F. Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 3 to 5 minutes until the bagels have browned. Cool on a baking rack.